by David Biggs
We hear so many negative things about government departments at all levels these days that I feel strange to be writing a column in praise of official efficiency, but here goes.
Last week I cleared some overgrown weeds from the green verge alongside the road in front of my house.
To my mild surprise, I found a municipal water meter buried down there.
I don’t think the municipal meter reader had seen it because it had been hidden in a small jungle for more than 20 years.
In all that time the meter had become rusty and corroded and vaguely resembled an unwashed potato. And it leaked.
A steady drip had formed an extensive mud puddle beside the road.
I phoned our local municipal office and reported the leak and an efficient receptionist told me the matter would be attended to within 24 hours.
I didn’t believe her. Of course not. I was dealing with the government.
One assumes government employees lie.
That afternoon, less than six hours after reporting the matter, a large lorry arrived at my house and a team of four efficient workers disembarked, excavated several rotten copper pipes, replaced them, fitted a brand new water meter and were gone within an hour.
The following day I was chatting to a friend in Joburg and told him about my meter replacement. He didn’t believe me.
He said that in Gauteng problems like a leaky water meter took at least two weeks to be dealt with and then they probably required at least one follow-up call to find out what happened to the original call.
He said he thought my story was the muttering of a maniac and suggested rather nastily that he thought I had been at the Muscadel again.
But my story is true. I will show you the new meter if you don’t believe me.
As their aircraft circled the planet, Donald announced: “We are passing over America. I just touched the Statue of Liberty.”
A few hours later, Boris Johnson announced: “We have just flown over London. I touched Buckingham Palace.”
Soon afterwards Cyril announced: “I believe we have just flown over South Africa.”
“How can you tell?” asked Boris, “Did you touch Table Mountain?”
“No,” said Cyril, “my watch has been stolen.”
* “Tavern of the Seas” is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.