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Queueing is not for sissies - especially when a heavyweight steps on your toes

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

I have always been thankful that my life allows me to miss the queue for the child support grant.

We have all seen the scenes on the second of every month in town. They're made worse by entrepreneurial young men who place bricks in various positions in the queue to sell the spaces to those who can't wait too long.

The lines are aggravated by the fact that town planning sophisticates never imagined that the poor would queue in shops in such great numbers.

Contrary to my shade of black and historical misgivings, I am not designed to withstand the hardships of a disadvantaged life. I suffer from all sorts of illnesses that would literally render me a public spectacle if I were to be confined to that much congestion.

But, as life would have it, I recently found myself in one of those service centres where the prerequisite for access to help is proving you have the patience and conviction of Job - qualities I do not possess!

I was devastated to realise I would be held there, standing between a lady's very generous posterior and a loudmouth reeking specifically of Street Wise 3 (you know, the pap and gravy combo).

Thankfully, I have a busy, creative mind, so I can never get bored when surrounded by that many people.

I got right into the business of studying the masses to get my mind off sight of the fact that I am half a kilometre away from the actual door where I will be attended to.


I could read the history of wear and tear on almost every strand of Asian hairpiece straddling the patrons' heads. From hot-irons to dye and wool knots.

But I cannot say which part of queueing is worse for human endurance.

After spending hours absorbing what should be near-fatal amounts of direct sunlight, I was naturally relieved to finally have entered the door to wait in sight of the help desks.

Only, inside the building, I was still sweating ice cubes because in places like these, the aircons are part of the vintage decor!

And, while my English is good enough to escalate matters to the boss's boss to deal with the gum-chewing clerk, I do not have the energy to speak anything outside of my home language at this juncture.

I was silently praying that today, unlike the last visit, the gods of IT would be with us.

I knew I could not live through another "the computer keeps freezing, shame . (click, click, click).

"Oh no, the system is down. We can't help any more customers; the computers are not working."

While there was finally movement in the queue, I found myself subject to possibly the worst pain one could ever endure.

I went deaf for a second after the lady in front of me hastily turned and stepped on my foot. She was heavy and masculine.

Yes. I was deaf from the pain, but not numb. No.

Karma made sure I absorbed all of the pain from that crushing. I was wearing peep-toe stilettos and exposed myself to the assault on my toes.

There was a stage when I thought the wetness on my hand was blood, but it was just my tears that felt like my heart bleeding. I leaned over, and tried to sit and nurse my injury. That's when I saw her feet! Jovongcwele!

I was lucky I hadn't broken a bone. Her feet looked like an asymmetrical mould of crusty concrete - carelessly spread into sandals.

They reminded me of a late cousin who used to put out coal fires with his bare feet.

Then to twist the knife, she says: "Kodwa wenzani ucishe ungilimaza ngalama qhoks enu acijile! [You almost hurt me with these pointy heels of yours]."

I wept.

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