Among all the dread about the failing Natis online booking system, vehicle licence renewals, and general dread of having to renew your driving licence card, there is always a shimmer of hope in between. It might be like looking for a needle in a haystack, excuse the cliche, but it's there - you just need to dig around to find the good.
Just like Keith Moir had written in a few weeks back about the angel at the Port Alfred driving licence testing centre, that's what happened when I came across this lovely email from Wheels24 reader Adele Stanley, and we just had to share it.
"Dear Wheels24 editor,
"This letter is to let you know about the great experience we recently had at the Heidelberg Licensing Department (I shall call HLD herein) on 20 November 2020 and 26 January 2021.
"Let's face it – we all dread municipal offices and are often very quick to express our disappointment and anger with them. But today I want to take the time to show the other side of the coin – the institutions that proves us naysayers wrong.
"I drove quite far to the Heidelberg Licensing Department, taking my usual reading book, calming tables (joke), energy sweets, and tripod chair with me, together with a usual feeling of dread. But it was all for nothing!
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"Firstly, there is a car park opposite the offices with friendly, non pushy or aggressive car guards, and I never once felt unsafe; I was off to a good start. Yes, of course the queues were long but I'm sure if this specific office had more resources, it would not have been the case.
"Enter Nompumelolo Makgale – a breath of fresh air, always smiling, and so willing to assist. After speaking to her a bit more when going back to collect my driving licence this week, I found out that her personal motto is (and I quote): "You don't have to thank me, I love my job. My mission is to serve with excellence."
"It would seem like they have a culture of friendly competition and the workers challenge each other to end up on the compliments wall. Here they actually try to make things better. I am well impressed.
"Rest assured that my entire family, including myself of course, will forever be driving from afar to use the Heidelberg driving licence testing centre. It is worth the fuel, time, and peace of mind. Kudos to the management as well. Staff members like 'Mpumi' thrive because of great leadership. Well done HDL!"
I then happened to ask Ms Stanley if she had a picture of 'Mpumi', and perhaps even her number as I would like to speak with her. And, she did. Stanley said Mpumi even gave her personal mobile number if she experienced any problems or needed help following up about her driving licence card. Now that's the kind of service you hardly would imagine getting from a driving licence centre official.
Nompumelolo 'Mpumi' Makgale has been working at the driving licence testing centre since 2006. Mpumi says she loves interacting with customers and also problem-solving and that she feels terrific when customers or motorists give her feedback.
She doesn't like 'down times', as she calls it, because people get frustrated when the system is offline or not responding well.
"It's really not nice to deal with a difficult customer, but there's a proverb that keeps me going. It says: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Thank you, Nompumelolo, for doing your job with pride and for being making such a tedious task into one of joy. The world needs more people like you, especially all driving licence testing centres, home affairs offices, and the like.