Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For Your Own Safety

I just got back from an under-the-radar trip to South Africa. Because you gotta go home every once in awhile. Massage that soul & all.

And to check up that the folks aren’t spending all the inheritance during their child-free older years.

… they are… which just led to me spending some straight back…

Everyone wanted to know how Austraaaaaalia was, did I want another double gin, would I live there, when am I coming home, how about another plate of biltong, was it working out. I woo’ed and wow’d them with my tales of how the continent is not all that bad. It’s made up of convicts’ kids and missionaries’ kids. The trick is to stick with the penal bunch.

But, as soon as I hit O.R. Tambo & watched the Springboks lose to a hail of vuvuzela’ing foreigners, I got the cold smack of reality that is the missionary descendants.

“For You Own Safety”…

For your own safety, we are going to check your hand luggage twice, ensure you only pick up your duty-free booze as you march single-file onto the plane, check your passport thrice, and ensure NO ONE smiles! This is not a party in your aeroplane sort of joint, lady with the blue rinse! We will have you know what a serious business this flying activity is. No swinging sixties drunken pilots being coddled by short skirted airhostesses anymore! No more free lunches on this flight. Oh no! This is a sit-eat-watch-listen-sleep when the lights are out-piss when we take the seatbelt sign off-wake-yawn-watch-listen-march off style of route, for the lot of you! Why, you ask!? Well, don’t! There will be NO questions on this flight! But if you must know, For your own safety, Of course!

And so during the following thirteen painful hours, I was reminded of that distaste that this Island manages to coat about, using their fear-inducing glass-caged citizen-tranquiliser motto of…

“For Your Safety”, we are only going to serve free drinks during the meal, and that means only one free drink per passenger per meal.

We are reaching a spot of air notorious for turbulence, so we are going to put on the seatbelt sign, JUST IN CASE PEOPLE, ITS FOR YOUR SAFETY!

“Can I have a full cup of tea, please, sir?” NO! Did you not heeeeeear the captain! Deargod man, this is a NOTORIOUS spot of AIR! I can’t have passengers just flinging tea about over every possible air burp! Generally I would give you half a cup but for such defiance, you get one quarter!

And every fleeing Poffadder ouma & bitter Koffiefontein oom nodded their heads in unadulterated agreement. Ah yes, this is why we are exil’ing! No more THINKING for us! We act when and how we are told! This. Is. Bliss!

Ag tog, this is luvely! This little speaker above will tell us when to act, when to eat, when to toilet break, what to fear, what not to eat - …which is why I spent the last hour of the flight scoffing down my SA chocolates & crisps. I would rather be sugar-sick than “declare these indecencies” to Customs, or worse yet, chuck them… Because, rid of them you must be! In case a plague of Tempo Bars breaks out and joins the frogs, camels, flies and bunnies in swamping The Island.

The Nanny was back and she was beating me with her spoonful of fear while walloping me with hypothetical uncertainties.

After the 10th announcement in as many hours (I fear I do not kid on this, I even filled out a “Customer Feedback Form” in complaint of the overzealous announcer), I strolled up to the “Free Water” (offered in miniscule cups that require you to stroll every 2 damn minutes… for your safety, we don’t want you spilling room temperature water on yourself after all!) place located conveniently next to the “Ladies Only” toilets. And as I strolled back fearing that I had not wiggled an ankle in the appropriate amount of time or slept with my seatbelt on the outside of my blanket, the voice boomed the cabin;

“Passengers are reminded to NOT stand up & walk about the cabin when the seatbelt sign is still illuminated!”

The eyes glared at me. I shuddered. What now! I had broken the laws of the islands. The Voice went silent. It had pointed me out. Outted and ostracised me sufficiently. I knelt down and praised the Voice for its compassion in not voting me off the island right there and then. I was a dissenter. And now I was branded. Let me step out of line one more time & imagine the mayhem that possibly maybe surely could and would break lose.

The bubble might be burst! Reality and, horrors, the Boat People, might come streaming in!

Incredibly all stayed calm. In fact, even that notorious patch of air stayed surprising calm.

The O “HayTCHA” and S folk sighed in relief. We got lucky. This time. But never let that guard down! Never let the people not be aware of how we are protecting their safety at all time, in all places, for all sorts of reasons!

When I got safely back to my seat, strapped myself in, and ensured I had my reading light on and window shade firmly down, I “quietly” bitched that perhaps, just maybe, The Island was little OTT. My expat neighbour, who had hogged the middle seat the whole night while loudly singing to himself between bouts of boozy snores replied “That’s why this country WORKS!” Hic! Now stop the gay people marrying and the tanned women wearing those black clothes over their faces, give them motorbike helmets instead, and the universe will finally be in alignment! Hic!

Ah yes, alignment. And all will be protected about the bubble ‘ey.

And a few hours later, I stood in front of a Customs lady who asked me inane questions about biltong and reasons for daring to take a trip out of such a “lucky counry” for the outside dangerous world, however briefly. I glanced to my right and saw the Blue-Rinse tannie hand over to her Customs Lady a small Pharmacy package of panadoes. The Lady nodded with approval and ticked the boxes. OhForFuckSake. I am never getting back in. I will be bust right here & now. My guy will be left to roam mateless for years to come while I suffer it out back in Africa.

Which is when I sucked in my pride, unscrewed my backbone, and I in turn coughed sweetly, and bravely enquired ever so politely from my Lady, “sorry, but I’m half way through a course of antibiotics, do I need to declare this medication?” as I half-heartedly grasped for the untidy pack in my one piece of hand luggage.

A glare of ultimate uniformed services came back at me and a rude “No!” was thrown down onto me.

“But next time…
…you must!
… For your own safety!”


Cam said...

Now I understand why you needed the booze :D

DBAWIW said...

So nu? where are you?

Champagne Heathen said...

Cam - indeed! please post more!

DBAWIW - 2 job juggling still! Still searching for the new groove. But I will get there! I will be regularly back!