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‘It all goes down at the fuel station on Sunday’

Midlands sketches

File picture: Bruchin Noeka on Unsplash

A visit to our local village service station is always entertaining. Especially at 7am on a Sunday.

Here you’ll find all sorts, in various states of sobriety (or not) and on vastly differing missions.

This past Sunday I drove into the station at about 10 minutes to 7, needing to get my tyres checked as I was taking the bakkie off the beaten track.

I knew it was going to be interesting and, while the petrol attendant did his thing, I had a look at who else was arriving at the filling station that morning.

This is kind of a meeting place, shop and service station all in one. You’re certain to bump into someone you know. And sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed.

Two-tone

In no particular order, there were a pair of churchmen, dressed up in colourful blue robes and who offered me a smile and a quiet greeting. Then there was a rather flustered looking farmer in the standard two-tone getup, in a hurry to get his fuel and press on with whatever he was doing. He uttered a few choice curses as he communicated with someone on his cellphone.

To put it plainly, our town is plagued by drunks most weekend, the two official bottle stores proving a big attraction for those wanting a night on the tiles. Some Saturdays and Sundays the guys and gals are lurching all over the place.

A close call

Pretty much staggering up towards my vehicle on foot came a young boozer of note and I feared for a moment I was going to be have one of those slow motion, lopsided conversations … you know the ones. But he just giggled, muttered something and went on to hassle someone else. To his credit he was wearing a face mask, if a little lopsided as he went his jolly way.

Phew, a close call.

There’s a fair amount of boozing in the hood at the weekend.

Closely associated with the drunks are the hustlers and drifters who are always on the lookout for a couple ZAR to go towards the next quart (although these days those dops have to bought from Monday to Thursday only, so a bit of planning is required) or smoke. Unless, of course, they are going the black market route, if you get my drift.

They have various schemes to try to catch your eye, and guys like me have an equal number of schemes to prevent this happening.

A taxi driver swerved in at speed, either a bit diddled or full of anger. I couldn’t be sure. He spoke to the staff manning the shop and then climbed back into his vehicle and zoomed off. He had those scary vacant eyes of the aggressive or intoxicated.

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And to round off my garage experience this fine morning was an immaculately groomed soccer mom ferrying a bunch of kids off to some party or sporty thing. Her SUV was loaded with the little sweethearts while she trotted off to the shop to stock up on essentials (sweets, chips, juices, water etc).

“Heita, sharp, back left tyre was low,” said my very diligent attendant who pulled me back from my reverie. He looked tired but offered a shy smile.

“No cool, here’s R10,” I said. “See you next week.”

There’ll be more forecourt entertainment then, I have no doubt. – By Garth Johnstone

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