Dept of Clutter and Chatter with a Smile (In the main)

That dreaded time has come where I have to renew my driver’s licence. I have already circumvented the grim unhealthy looking eye machines that the Licensing Dept has on offer, by going to an optometrist that will certify your sight levels for you… the next step is to tackle Randburg’s driver’s licence renewal department.

My memory tells me that one gets accosted by lady-and-man-beef-cakes at the reception, and you are urged to fill in the forms there and then as you won’t get past security if you don’t. That hasn’t changed, although beefy and beefette look like they have had some people training and are slightly more helpful than before – or was it because there was no crush against the desk this time?

So far so good, forms clutched against my chest I climb the stairs to the first floor to sit and wait. I sit down next to about six or seven peeps…. but whoa … the queue is moving… to another queue inside the renewal room? eye testing room? Anyway, whatever room you call it they had these chairs, which one sat on, moved up one, sat on, moved up one, sat on…. sort of like creeping round the corners of an old living room like a weirdo!

The one good thing about this kind of arrangement is that most people around you giggle at the silliness of it all. We all sit and hear the conversations between the renewal officers and the licensee – all the inane banter and misunderstandings and eye machine fiddling: “No, move the stick to the right.. what do you see madam” “Nothing! Man nothing” “Move the stick to the middle on the x please stick your head firmly into the machine madam” “Place your thumb into this machine.. YOUR THUMB not your finger please”. What a giggle, better than Mr Bean. Adds a whole new dimension to social networking.

Then I started looking at the conditions within which these civil servants are working. Knowing that a work environment impacts upon the worker, what did I see? I saw tatty walls with chunks of concrete missing. Broken desks, old chairs, dilapidated cupboards, cramped office space, corridors that haven’t seen paint for at least 10 years, pieces of paper stuck onto walls with sellotape – shocking for these people really. Surely, the department can get these things fixed, put some paint on the walls, give these people decent desks, clean walls and floors, and clean windows to look out of – the offices resembled a flea play pen.

But then the constant laughter and chatter that crept down the room from the extreme end of this play pen caught my attention. That lovely warm and jovial Cape Coloured accent and turn of phrase. My turn came up – pretty quick only waited a mere 30 minutes this is such an improvement – I walked to the gentleman at the back who was merrily bantering to his two colleagues about the death of another colleague’s relative. The work at hand was just an interruption into this extremely polite and funny exchange. A great debate ensued as to whether ‘my guy’ had in fact told the other lady that this guy had died “I did man” “Nee jong you never did ey” “Oh I am so sorry neh I thought I told you he died”.

And so he looked at me and said ” S J neh?” “Yes” I reply. “Your eyes are perfect hey, really good hey” “Charlton” he tapped into his keyboard, I nodded. I smiled.

I love it.

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