Driver's Prayer didn’t help

2008-02-13 00:00

I pulled up at the traffic lights on Sunday and spotted a beggar stringing his way through the cars ahead of me. I quickly wound up my window and recited the Driver’s Prayer.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want this raggedy misfit to come unto me; he maketh me lie down in my seat so he cannot see me; even though I drive through the valley of the shadow of death (Fish Hoek), I will fear no evil as long as the traffic lights turn green before he reacheth me.”

Unfortunately, the traffic lights weren’t working. Nor was St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers. Do God and his peeps still take Sundays off? And why do the orthodox churches depict St Christopher with the head of a dog? Everyone knows that dogs make notoriously bad drivers. Their snouts give them a blind spot bigger than Kimberly’s big hole and their steering sucks.

The beggar reached my window and, like a boil that sets up home on one’s bottom, refused to go away. Then he transgressed one of those invisible boundaries that separate the rich from the poor or, in my case, the poor from the indigent. He knocked on the window. I struggled to release myself from my seat belt so that I might leap from my vehicle and beat him around the head until he begged for mercy. It was then that I noticed he was no ordinary beggar. This one was white.

We don’t see many poor white people on the streets of Cape Town, which is a damn good thing because this would not look good in the eyes of Fifa. Having unruly packs of darkies clogging up the intersections is bad enough, but toss in a few white faces and Sepp Blatter would take the World Cup away from us faster than you can say “you elitist Swiss bastard”.

I don’t have much sympathy for a white beggar because if he really wanted a job all he would have to do is claim to be a nuclear engineer and Eskom would hire him in a flash.

I was about to give this fallen specimen of a once proud master race Eskom’s postal address when he gave me the lazy eye and said, “I don’t like begging but it’s better than stealing, right?” I was appalled by his crude interpretation of passive-aggressive behaviour and tossed a R5 coin over his shoulder.

Later, my mother called and said: “I’ve got your report here.” I quickly cut the connection to buy time to think up an excuse but she called right back and said she had been going through piles of junk and had come across my old school reports.

Here’s what my teacher said at mid-term in my first year: “An intelligent pupil but unfortunately doesn’t always give of his best.”

Give of my best? I was six years old, for God’s sake. Not weeing in my broeks in the middle of finger-painting was a remarkable achievement.

Things barely improved by primary school. “A great pity that such an intelligent child is so uninterested in his work. He should adopt a more serious attitude to his lessons.” The principal, clearly in on the conspiracy to ruin my life, added: “A capable pupil but seldom exerts himself. Enjoys reading.”

So why didn’t they just give me a pile of books and a mattress at the back of the class?

Standard 3: “Arithmetic is his weakest subject and he must be watched.”

Nobody ever rescinded the order and I can feel their eyes on me right now.

Mid-term Standard 5. “Has not yet learnt self-discipline. Fidgety and inattentive.”

End-of-year Standard five: “A boy with lots of ability who is too lazy and too lacking in interest to make use of it. Good at English with a wide general knowledge. Always lolling in class.”

Yeah, that’s my dark secret. I was a pubescent loller.

Standard 7 brought a litany of abuse. “General science: could do better. Maths: adopts a negative attitude. History: a poor result. Geography: weak. Geometrical drawing: more effort required. Afrikaans: moet harder werk.”

The hanging judges of standards 8 and 9 sent me home with reports guaranteed to get me a whipping.

“His disastrous maths and history marks indicate all too clearly a grave lack of effort, a situation which must at all costs be remedied.”

­As for my matric results, well, they earned me a ticket to the army where I cost us the war in Angola.

Sorry about that.

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