Things are actually fairly easy . . .

. . . if you pull your finger out of your arse. But digital-anal extraction is not really a prominent forte of mine, me being more a procrastinator, thinker, cogitater, planner and delayer sort of person. Circumspect. Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing, I’m sure it has saved me money at times, I just can’t think of any specific instance when it did.

So the white Ford Ranger pickup clocks 150 000km and is due for a service – full diesel and turbo service and check the nipples or whatever these okes do that know what they’re doing. At 152 000 and 154 000 I’m still serene and only at 156 000km do I start thinking Shit, you’re actually a slack SumBitch, y’know!?

At 158 000 I start making plans and at 160 000 I actually phone Mario and tell him I will be bringing the Ford Ranger bakkie in as soon as I can organise a lift. “Any time” he says in his Italian accent. And then he says “Those Ford Rangers are wonderful vehicles, they’re bullet-proof”, not realising he has just given me a subconscious reason to take my foot off the Urgency, Jeez you’re Slack pedal again. He is a qualified mechanic who apprenticed and specialised on Alfa Romeos back in the day so he knows about cars giving grief and he can diagnose from fifty paces. He knows you have to LURV your car and LISTEN to your car and FEEEL for your car. Right.

Invariably, after a service, he gives me a long and earnest lecture about neglect and how to treat a car. He has serviced my Ford Cortinas and VW Kombis for at least 25yrs and knows I am not what you would call Italian for “meticulous”. As they say: Devi prestare un’attenzione meticolosa alle istruzioni perché le dirò una volta sola. Prestava un’attenzione meticolosa al suo lavoro assicurandosi che fosse sempre perfetto.

So at 163 000km I gear up for REALLY doing something about this and then luckily lil sister Sheila phones: Would I like to join them, they’re going to Ngoye forest in Zululand with a bunch of birders all older than us this weekend and can we take my bakkie?

So I phone Mario and my dilemma about how do I get to work once I’ve dropped off the Ford is solved: Sheila takes me to work then fetches me at 1pm and takes me and Jessie to the dentist. We walk the 3km home.

Now I have to fetch the Ford. Jon is in Jo’burg or Barcelona; Bruce’s Mom just died, he’s organising funeral homes; I don’t want to ask Sheila for a third lift.

WAIT! Jessie’s scooter! There’s a plan. I’m unlicenced and don’t have a helmet but I don my cycling helmet and a jacket and I’m off.

Yamaha scooter.jpg
Heather & Bruce on that scooter

Yussis I enjoyed it! It started to rain and those wheels are small but I zoomed off, 150cc’s whining. I diced – and beat – every car at all the lights. 20km later I was there and asked Mario to help me load the Yamaha in the back of the Ranger. We huffed and puffed and we had to call his son Andreas to help, but we squeezed it in lying on its side with the handle bars hanging over the tailgate. I was about to clip Sambucca’s dog leash on the brakes to stop it from falling out when Mario said “The petrol is leaking out” so we dragged it back out and abandoned it in his garage.

I have my bakkie back. The noise wasn’t a hole in the exhaust, the fan belts were shot; the seat belt light was just a loose wire to an airbag; the brake light was low brake fluid; I’d imagined the discs paper-thin, so I had stopped braking for the last few weeks; Two minutes after I got there Mario poured brake fluid in to the appropriate reservoir and the light went off!

Nothing was as bad as I’d imagined. So he fixed everything and did the 150 000km service 13 000km late all for R2200. Things are actually fairly easy if you pull your finger out of your arse.


If you check the Italian words “attenzione meticolosa; volta sola; and perfetto” – you will find the translation: What I’m Not.

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