Last Saturday, I decided to pop through to Riebeek West – 5km each way, a quick trip of no more than 10 minutes – to pick up a litre of paint I’d ordered by phone on the Friday.
Taking the most direct route, I drove up the hill. It was the church’s birthday party and they’d closed off the road, so I had to turn around, drive to the bottom of the village, go out that way, then drive around the village and finally get on the linking road.
Where I got stuck behind a day-visitor who, like many of his kind, was clearly under the impression that nobody actually lives in these towns, and that they only quaintly come to life on the weekends so city folk can drive at a snail’s pace more or less in the middle of the road, staring and pointing out the window , and not noticing the actual resident behind them foaming at the mouth and screaming ‘Get the fuck out the way, you useless fat bastard of a tourist’.
In Riebeek West, I went in to Agrimark (never my favourite place to shop at the best of times) and requested my paint. John, the paint person, said to me, ‘You said I should mix it only when you got here.’
This was a baldfaced lie (why in god’s name would I give such a pointless, time-wasting instruction?!), but I sighed and said, ‘Okay, how long is it going to take?’ He said five minutes, but that was five minutes in a universe where the paint person knows how to use the paint-mixing computer, and doesn’t switch the screen on and off multiple times in an obviously fruitless effort to get the program to do his bidding.
By now a terrible primeval scream was building up inside my skull, and I said in a strangled voice, ‘John, can I come and fetch the paint on Monday? I can’t wait for you to learn how to use the bloody computer.’
‘No, hang on, I’ll go and get somebody,’ he said, and ran off and came back quite quickly with another man. The two of them stood at the computer, poking at it with their index fingers as if it was a half-dead frog at the bottom of a ditch and they were two moron boys escaped from a lunatic asylum.
By now I’d ground my jaws together so hard that they seemed to have gone into some sort of spasm, so I screeched quietly, ‘Phone me when it’s ready,’ and fled from the shop before I spontaneously combusted.
I got back in my car and drove back towards Riebeek Kasteel, getting stuck behind yet another useless fat bastard of a pointing, middle-of-the-road, snail-pace-driving tourist. I took the long way round to get back into the village, and then I got stuck at the end of a very long procession of un-be-lieeee-va-bly slow-moving vehicles, which I finally realised were themselves stuck behind a long procession of un-be-lieeee-va-bly slow-moving antique tractors – part of the church’s birthday celebrations.
I shook my fist at the heavens and screamed, ‘Fuck you, universe, you stupid fat cow!’
I don’t usually do this, as the universe has a nasty way of getting back at me for insulting her – stubbed little toe, lost keys, unsightly agonising pimple in the nostril, etc.
As I got home, John phoned. I let the call go to voicemail because I didn’t trust myself to speak, and when I listened to it later, this is what it said: ‘John. Paint.’ A more obscure and less helpful message it’s hard to imagine.
And that’s how I spent 45 minutes last Saturday morning not getting paint.