Red Whine: March 2006 Archives


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She was gone and I was left alone, a trembling, hopeless hostage, tethered to the line, the mind-numbing muzak seeping into my ear towards my brain, rendering me slowly unconscious.

“Thank you for holding and holding and holding (you’re quite a sucker, aren’t you?).”

“All our service consultants are currently on their taxpayer-sponsored coffee breaks, after which they will be going to a leisurely lunch followed by a five-day weekend. They will pay for the lunch and the weekend with that erroneous deduction of thousands of Rand they had made from your bank account - a slight oversight that occurred when the decimal sign was curiously misplaced and which will take five years and thousands more of your hard-earned Rand to fix,” says the robotic operator in her best Stepford Wife voice.

When I left South Africa in 1996, I was a broke journalist who had to rely on dates for food (so needless to say, I made Kate Moss seem positively obese).

After the money for my rent payment was scraped together, there simply wasn’t anything left for luxuries like food, or a car, or electricity (and my apartment was situated above a Mobil petrol station, which made striking matches to light candles a potentially life-ending and therefore quite thrilling adventure. The upside to living at that particular address was that my friends and I never needed drugs to get high. We merely had to lean out the windows and inhale). And after not spending money on food, or a car, or electricity, there was also no money left for a home telephone.

So, until this morning, I had NO IDEA what it’s like dealing with Hellkom, the ‘affectionate’ nickname given to Telkom, South Africa’s only phone company.

My initiation into the paradoxical experience of trying to get someone from the phone company on the phone occurred in the United States. But James Earl Jones, who thanked me profusely (and repeatedly) for phoning Bell-Atlantic in his sexy Mufasa voice made the whole experience of holding for five hours straight bearable - even secretly enjoyable.

Now, I’ve HEARD the Hellkom Horror Stories and there are enough of those to fill several hefty tomes. So I can’t really say that I went into this entirely unwittingly.

But you know how it is, unless and until you’ve experienced something really awful for yourself, you’re not really able to wrap your mind around it, therefore you always think: “Oh, it can’t be THAT bad. These few (read: millions of) people must surely be exaggerating!”

So I didn’t even complain or hesitate to pick up the phone when my sister asked me to do her a “little” favour and call the phone company on her behalf to find out why they haven’t yet come to move the phone line that she had asked them to “some time ago.”

“When did you ask them to come and do it?” I asked her as I was dialing the number. (Not because I was suspicious at her vagueness, silly me. Merely because I wanted be well-informed when I spoke to someone at Hellkom.)

“Oh, about six months ago,” she mumbled before sprinting out the door, dodging the directory I had thrown at her.

Too late. She was gone and I was left alone, a trembling, hopeless hostage, tethered to the line, the mind-numbing muzak already seeping into my ear towards my brain, rendering me slowly unconscious.

After fifteen minutes the muzak stopped. And even though it should be deemed unnecessary to say that the muzak was awful (because it’s a scientific law of the Universe that muzak must be awful, didn’t you know?), the sudden silence was unnerving.

Just when I thought that I had been cut off, the eerie Stepford-Wife voice came on.

I held. (I might be a sucker, but I’m a PERSISTENT sucker!)

I read War and Peace. The unabridged version. Twice. In its original Russian.

With the other hand, I still held.

Elephants mated, gestated and the females gave birth to their full-term calves.

I was still on hold.

High school graduates entered medical school. Years later, as those same students were solemnly reciting the Hippocratic Oath, I was STILL holding.

You think you get the point, don’t you? But no, really, I assure you, you don’t.

I typed this blog post with one finger. (Still holding.)

Bush was impeached. (I wanted to say that he finally became an intelligent life form, but I simply don’t have enough imagination to write science fiction.) A Democratic black Jewish woman became President of the United States. (Perhaps I can write fantasy fiction instead?)

At last, there was worldwide peace; global famine and poverty and illiteracy were eradicated (and with it, crime); cures were discovered for all diseases; all orphans and stray animals were adopted into loving homes and free books and unlimited refill coffees became a human right.

And I?


Because alas, whilst corrupt governments crumbled and dictatorships were (peacefully) toppled, one thing remained stubbornly unchanged:

Phone companies never answered their telephones.

My nephew is a stoner...

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… And he is only two and a half years old!

This probably begs an explanation.

Yesterday, I was innocently minding my own business by petting the dogs, when my normally sweet nephew, who was outside with me, was overcome by the mostly hidden Dark Side of his personality (the side usually reserved for throwing Terrible Two tantrums), compelling him to do something to me which I will have to remember to tell all his girlfriends one day while I show them all his naked baby pictures.

My sister came out of the house to ask me something, and I turned my head away from him and the dogs to look at her. Suddenly something made me lose my balance, and I felt a razor-sharp pain at the side of my head, the kind of pain that makes your eyes water.

My nephew had thrown a sizeable stone at me! I had no idea that such a little guy can have such strength… and such great aim!

So yes, alas, I’ve been stoned. By a toddler. And unfortunately, the closest I’ve come to dope is, well, by being myself.

‘Cause I feel like a big dope with a terrible headache…

is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Terra: YES! Wait... you didn't think that I would be this possessed to post for NO REASON, did ya???... [go]
  • Terra.Shield : OH! ... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: Be a bit like serving drinks at AA?... [go]
  • Marco Author Profile Page: I personally think it is a mindset that has been cultivated over the years, and one, if not stemmed,... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Ms. Crazy Cat Lady Pants!!! Squeeeee! Sooo good to see you! (I thought NO ONE was bothering to read ... [go]
  • Ms. Pants : Kitties don't get enough credit sometimes. (All times, if you ask me, but I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.)... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Hey Tamara! I know, right?? That is a tough act to follow indeed. I adored that dentist. He used to ... [go]
  • Tamara Tipton : Well, I am not sure how any dentist could live up to that standard! LOL! I hope your appointment was... [go]
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: I'm really really glad that I'm not the only one, Po! Sometimes I drive myself mad with all the what... [go]
  • Po : Those questions run through my heads for various times in my life too, that is for sure!... [go]
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