Strange how one can become used to something so quickly. You wake up one morning, you decide that you are going to start the day with a coffee, and all to soon this becomes a habit, and you get used to it, so quickly that you don’t even notice that you have picked up a new “bad” habit.
Amazing though, that this phenomenon also occurs if you spread out the occurrence of the action even by a couple of days. Stranger still the fact that you can become desensitized by seeing something once every week … specifically Wednesdays …
You see, Wednesdays is the day the City of Tshwane comes around to clear out the garbage bins which stood for a week, collecting all the refuse “normal” people get rid of on a weekly basis without giving it much thought of what is going into the trash, and eventually, where the trash will end up.
It’s been bugging me for a while now, and honestly, I have no idea how to tackle the problem on my own, and I think this might be one of the reasons why I got “used” to seeing what I’ve been seeing without actually doing something or saying something about it, and there in lies the problem I have with myself, with our ANC led Government, and the South African society as a whole.
Every Wednesday, after putting out the garbage bin for collection they come. In their masses, pulling their self made carts behind them in the hope that today brings in the loot they are hoping for, something to eat, something to re-use, something to sell …. scavengers, poorest of the poor, dirty, stinky, filthy and freezing as they walk down the street from bin to bin, pulling the carts behind them with the loot which they have already scavenged from the bins down the street.
Everyone sees theses scavengers. Most don’t even notice them anymore, some still do though. Like the old man who is on pension down the road from us, who diligently sits on his porch, keeping an eye out for these vagrant bin looters, to chase them away because they sometimes leave behind a mess after going through a bin, sorting out what is edible, what is re-usable and what is just nasty old junk.
Not all people are like this grumpy old man though … but the sad part is that most do not even notice them … these Raiders of the Trash who come in all shapes, sizes and colours.
A week ago it was pretty cold here in Pretoria, and as I rushed out of the house to go to the office I remembered it was garbage day.
I quickly ran inside, grabbed the black bag from the bin in the kitchen and promptly discarded it in the big black bin while I waited for the gate to open.
It was then that I saw her. The young black woman standing out there in the cold with a summer dress, long socks pulled up to her knees and a thin blue jersey which has seen better days judging by all the holes in it and the strings of wool which pulled out of the pattern.
She was quiet, shy, but friendly, not really making eye contact, but none the less standing there, waiting for someone to bring out the bin so that she can start going through the trash in the hope of finding something useful.
I tried to greet her, but I was a bit surprised after looking down at the ground while I pushing the bin out, and suddenly seeing the old shoes and the socks and looking up into the face of desperation.
I finally managed to get a “Um, hello, good morning … ” out, but as the worlds left my lips I started thinking ” What are you saying? Is this really a good morning for her? ” …
The feeling I had that morning won’t be going away soon, and it served as a harsh reminder of the reality of what we as a nation, and as a species are facing.
As we are closing of this week and getting ready to cast our vote next week Wednesday it must serve as a reminder for us all that everything is not “OK” or “Good” by any means, and that we have only ourselves to blame for allowing the “leaders” of our young democracy to abuse and plunder State resources by enriching themselves through monsters like Nkandla and the ArmsGate deal the cost of the people who put them in power, hoping for a better future.
Let this Wednesday serve as a reminder for those of you out there who are still supporting the current status quo of what we are really voting for come next week Wednesday.