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The lonely car watch

31 October 2012, 08:12

Some years ago I knew an elderly lady who received a government disability grant because she had a defect on her legs and could not walk properly or stand any length of time. She owned a house, bought for R1-00 from the municipality but still had to pay the usual rates and taxes, water and electricity. The municipality sold very many of its houses to the occupants for R1-00 because then they did not have to carry the maintenance charges etc. The R1-00 was merely a token payment for the transfer contract.    

This lady had several children all of whom were adults and left home. The remaining daughter was in high school and expelled several times due to non-payment of school fees. There was no father to pay maintenance and when the father did it took a court order to enforce it and three months later it was back to the status quo.     

The mother decided to work as a Car Watch on a site adjacent to the ladies hairdresser. This turned out to be quite a lucrative move because ladies entering or leaving hairdressers seem to sit with a scruples problem. Here they are well dressed while this pavement wench is living in abject poverty. In a particular case a client gave her R100-00. In another case a rich farmers wife offered the car watch a lift home. The car watch was presented with several cartons of groceries and a sheep. One wonders exactly how far can a guilty conscience drive one. What goes on in that mind when the cars are parked in abundance carrying your tag and what goes on in that mind when the car park is practically empty. Will I make enough to pay the school fees on Monday, will there be enough to buy food for the weekend. The water and electricity account is in arrears. What must I do?     

One must realise a Car Watch’s income is affected by many factors. From the weather to the time of the month and seasons of the year. On a freezing winters day people are less inclined to go out and spend money than if the sun was shining brightly. Public holidays, especially Christmas and Easter are a boon for the car watch. A company manager was seen to put a R200-00 note into the hand of a Car Watch.    

This morning I had to go around to the shop on the corner to use the ATM.  When I came there the ATM, in its banking jargon, told me it cannot help me now, I must come back later.  I  went to another one installed in a hospital. The Car Watch asked if he can watch my car and I accepted. After the banking transaction I and the Car Watch(man) spoke a little about this and that and mentioned he had family in a country which was hit by a flood. The man seemed educated and well spoken, dressed well too. He even opened the car door for me.     

I paid him and said good-bye and drove away. Something was bothering me: then I realised I had paid the car watch only R5-00. What on earth was I thinking? What can he do with five Rand? I felt like a S>O>B>.   

I owe you mate: I will be around again.
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