Day 476 – Flip side

I – quite reasonably – wrote this post the other day, lamenting the state of… well… all of this stuff [gestures wildly]. And while some of that stuff is still in a thoroughly lamentable state, there is a light at the end of the tunnel in a couple of cases.

The biggie: 25,000 troops moving in to nip what looks like an attempted insurrection in the bud. (A bud that has cost billions, killed hundreds and cost the livelihoods of tens of thousands, but still something of a bud.) We still need to address the failure of government intelligence though. There were clues that weren’t difficult to spot:

Away from the real drama… the gutter/waterproofing team turned up out of the blue this afternoon and they’re busy repairing all the problems on the roof. That means that the ceiling guys can finish up with their work over the next day or so, and that means that we’ll be able to have a nice warm fire at some point real soon now.

Joy. Rapture. Small wins.

In other news, we are now the parents of two teenagers. Gone are the days of having “kids”: they’re young adults now. So Happy Birthday, Scoop! (but God, I feel old).

Thankfully, even that has a silver lining: I’m now old enough to register for my vaccination, and I nearly even got it today, before I was turned away by a lazy jobsworth at the local vaccination centre. I wasn’t old enough for them to jab today, he said. It wasn’t like they were jabbing anyone else though: the place was empty. Sure they could have slipped a quick needle into my upper arm.

But no.

And so it’s either an appointment on Monday (but we’ve heard bad things about the place – queuez for dayz, even with an appointment) or on Thursday (back with the jobsworth) for us. But that’s still much earlier than we expected.

Some improvement in my mood. Albeit from a very (very) low base.

Day 392 – More great customer service /s

Where /s = sarcasm. (For the uninitiated.)

Ah. South African customer service. It’s crap.

Our last major project for the moment is getting a fireplace put into the new house. We had a fireplace at our old house and it was one of the Best Things Ever. The beagle liked lying in front of it. And winter is coming, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the old, rattly windows on this place will stop the cold North Wester with the same efficacy as a colander. It’s a no brainer.

The fireplace is being installed today.

But obviously, it’s not. Did you not read the title and the first line?

I’d set aside time for the fireplace to be installed today and Mrs 6000 was staying home from the office to make sure that everyone was happy with where the fireplace was going to stand, because it weighs 135kg and once you’ve put it down and popped the flue through the roof, it ain’t moving. Ever.

I emailed the sales guy earlier in the week to check what time they were coming today. He didn’t reply. This should have been a bit of a red flag, because look, he always got back to me pretty quickly when he wanted me to buy the fireplace. But now that he has my hefty deposit, it seems that simple manners and common decency have left the building and eloped to the Free State (or somewhere equally distant).

So it’s me doing the chasing but he still won’t take my calls. Eventually, his PA has to do the dirty work, informing me without any hint of an apology that our unit wasn’t in the first container that they unloaded. First off, that really doesn’t make everything alright. But on the plus side, it does suggest the existence of a second container that might have been unloaded.
So, ok: there’s still hope. And… was it in the second container?
They don’t know.
And they don’t know because the second container is still on a boat and won’t even be in Cape Town for another 2½ weeks.

Good job I checked, hey?

Thing is, I could have got this job done by someone else and we could have a fireplace this morning. But we put our faith in this particular company because they’re local, they’re established and well-known and, well, you don’t survive for that long by being rubbish at doing literally the only thing that you do, right?

Right?

So we have to wait another three weeks for our fireplace, which isn’t the end of the world, but there are couple of things that have irked me. The guy not having the decency or the courage to call me is one of them. That’s so weak. Remember the mantra?

Mistakes happen. It’s how you deal with them that makes the difference.

This mistake was not dealt with at all, let alone well.

The other is more practical. I paid the 70% deposit (it’s a serious sum of money) safe in the knowledge that my fire would be installed 9 days later. Hasn’t happened. And so instead of sitting in my account, that deposit gets another 3 weeks earning interest* for his company, even though they’ve done bugger all. And sure, if they’d come and installed the fireplace today, then that 70% – and the other 30% – would be obviously be doing the same thing. I’m not expecting never to pay them any money.

BUT I WOULD HAVE A FIREPLACE!

So now we wait. And wait. And wait. And we sit on our hands and we smile sweetly. Because we’re stuck with them and you don’t crap on your own doorstep.
But there will be another check in a couple of weeks time, just to remind them. And there will be an appropriate review and a terse email once the unit is in. Because no matter how perfectly they do the job when they do the job, no matter how nice the specialist installation guys are and no matter how good it looks, they can’t earn my 5 stars or my respect back.

Don’t buy a fireplace in Cape Town without talking to me first. I can’t tell you where to go, but I can tell you where to avoid.

* Significant sum of money in a savings account with SA interest rates – it makes a difference.

Day 378 – More on vaccinations

The Minister of Health inspected a local vaccination centre today:

While professional flip-flopper and opportunist clown Julius Malema threatened to do exactly the same:

Big. Yawn.

Yeah, I think that we’re all pissed off with the complete incompetence of the government and their non-existent rollout of vaccines, but other than making some headlines, what exactly will this planned sit-in achieve? Oh, aside from potentially blocking any vaccinations that might actually have happened.

South Africa vaccinated 6,471 people today. That’s about the same number that the UK has done every 28 minutes, 24 hours a day in the last week (we’ve been through this). Even Zimbabwe managed to jab 16,784. But you can’t vaccinate people with vaccines you don’t have, and Zim has registered Indian, Chinese and Russian vaccines for use. We sent our first million vaccines back to India and it appears that we’ve received very, very few more since then.

I can’t wait for the private sector to get involved and get this shitshow sorted out.

Day 354 – Still locked

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I reckon that we’re just 9 days away from what many people would call “1 year of lockdown”. Sure, when we first started there was a lot more locking down than there is now. We weren’t allowed to go out at all. Now, we’re not allowed to go out between midnight and 4am. But the State of Disaster in this often Disastrous State is still in force and will continue to be for at least another month (and obviously waaaay beyond that, too). Everyone is fully expecting a third wave of infections here, probably around May or June. And despite the government’s best promises, I’m not confident of getting a vaccination much before the end of the year. And that’s hugely optimistic, according to this useful tool.

It’s a gloomy picture, exacerbated by the miserable weather today, the horrendous traffic (ironically brought about by the easing of lockdown) and by the return of loadshedding which popped in last week to say hi and has decided to stay until at least Wednesday. So, amidst the rain, the jams, the infections and the lack of electricity, it is – once again – amazing to me that this country continues to… well… to continue continuing.

Well. Mostly, anyway. I’ve just taken a call from the place that is servicing my car today to tell me that they can’t do any wheel alignments (I wanted four done) (or one big one) until they get their wheel alignment machine mended because loadshedding has broken it.
Frustrating.

But my major issue is still the amount that we are contributing to the economy via this new house. A blocked drain and a leaking pipe are today’s exciting events. The plumbers are digging through bathroom walls and trying to break as few tiles as possible, but due to the terrible way that the original pipework was installed, that’s no easy task.

Right. Let me go and see how they are getting on with their work.
After all, it’s not like there’s any rush to go and fetch the car or get a vaccination, is it?

Day 306 – It’s all about priorities

I’m on the fence. Metaphorically, at least.

I’m aware that lockdowns limit the spread of the virus – this is undoubtedly a Good Thing – but I’m also aware that they limit our personal freedoms and the ability of businesses to make money: and that’s not a Good Thing at all, because those have implications for health and survival as well.

So, putting things simplistically, I’m asking if we can objectively, accurately and meaningfully compare protecting lives and protecting livelihoods? I don’t think so.

You might think that it’s an absolute no-brainer, but if you were to tell me that, I wouldn’t necessarily know on which side you were coming down. Because it’s all about your overall view on life, the universe and everything, and your particular outlook might be poles apart from someone else’s.
Yes, you could argue that there are political and/or economic affiliations to either camp, and I’d definitely agree. But that doesn’t get us any further on what is right or wrong and which is the better path to take. And once again, as with every dichotomy these days, the divisions between the two sides are deep and emotive and can’t be bridged.

Because I know that I don’t know enough, I’m not on either side.
I’m on the fence. Metaphorically, at least.

You’d think that there were some things that we could agree on, though. We have a lockdown in South Africa at the moment. So if, for example, you don’t agree with lockdowns, then you would want to get rid of that as soon as possible in order to to get the economy back up and running* as soon as possible. Because even if your view is that livelihoods > lives (and as I’ve already said, I don’t want to get into a fight over this, because I don’t claim to have the knowledge or data to agree or not), you must surely still attribute some value to the latter, and so protecting those through means other than a lockdown would surely make sense. Right? And the means to do that would definitely include social distancing, wearing a mask and advocating for the vaccine to be administered as widely as possible as soon as possible. Right as well?

And yet, weirdly, there seems to be a strong correlation between people who are anti-lockdown, and yet are also anti-mask and anti-vaccine**.

If you want to get out of lockdown as soon as possible, then stop doing things which might spread more virus around, thus prolonging the lockdown. It’s not rocket surgery.

Mind you, you’d also think that people would be sensible enough not to attend a cat’s birthday party during a global pandemic. Because it’s all about priorities, isn’t it? And when it’s my health (and possibly my life) up against joining a feline on its birthday, well, I know where mine would lie.

And yet:

Questions. Several of them.

First off, do you have birthday parties for your pets? Sure, we might get the beagle a bone or something to celebrate its birthday, but we don’t invite 10 people around to our house. Hell, we didn’t even invite anyone around to celebrate the human birthdays in our household this last year, because there’s a frikkin’ global pandemic going around, and getting together with a group of people increases your chance of getting this really nasty virus.

And if you don’t believe me, just look at what happened at this cat’s birthday bash. The only one that seems to have come out unscathed is the cat. Selfish little git.

The outbreak was confirmed by Francisco Alvarez, The Valparaiso Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Health.
He said when he first heard the outbreak began at a cat’s birthday party he didn’t believe it.

Me too, Francisco. Me too. Because:

Secondly, if you do have a birthday party for your pet (and I’m really not on the fence about this one), why do you invite humans?
Cats hate humans. Your cat hates you. If you didn’t feed it, it would kill you in your bed. The last thing a cat wants around it on its special day that it doesn’t know anything about is more humans.

Not actual footage

In conclusion, don’t hold birthday parties for your cat. And really don’t hold birthday parties for your cat during a pandemic.

We’ve addressed the mentality of South Africans pertaining to the pandemic before here. (And I mentioned it here as well.)

It seems like it’s rife in Chile as well.

 

 

* or at least “stumbling” in our case
** which would seem to suggest that they think “it’s a conspiracy” or “it’s not real”. and that’s where they lose me and any of my respect, completely.