I dislike traffic. In fairness though, I’m pretty sure that everyone dislikes traffic. Unless you are some sort of weird sadist who somehow derives pleasure from sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, which I guess then is fine too.
Anyway, I dislike traffic so much that I telecommute, meaning that I only need to fire my car up once a work week, heading out to the relatively lovely Westlake area of Cape Town for my weekly Monday morning meeting.
This of course then means that I get to endure the fun that is Monday morning traffic.
So given all that, Monday mornings are therefore understandably a shock to the system – meaning of course that an early cup of coffee is then obviously in order.
However, it can’t be a leisurely stop to some place where a bearded guy with a twirly moustache in a plaid shirt with rolled up sleeves lovingly pours a coffee made from beans which he first gently fished out from a large Hessian sack.
No, it needs to be good coffee which is quickly retrieved, probably best if done during the other Monday routine that is the weekly petrol stop.
So just as well then that while my car takes in its share of some damn fine petrol, I get to savour some of that particularly tasty brew that the esteemed Seattle Coffee Company whips up on a daily basis inside the FreshStop at my local Caltex in Strand (Greenways).
Convenience, good coffee and smart fuel. Seems a good way to start a day that you know is about to become a tad more frustrating the minute you turn on to that ‘beloved’ N2 highway of ours…
Tip: Here’s a handy map to my local Caltex. It’s probably a good idea to find your own!
Just in case you weren’t exactly sure what makes up the current per litre price of petrol here in South Africa, here’s a handy (and colourful!) infographic from the team at surf4cars.co.za that landed up in my inbox this morning.
Funnily enough, I always assumed that BP was a much bigger player in the global fuel business than say the likes of Total!
Heh, had to happen eventually.
Chantelle has an annoying (well annoying to me) habit of driving her Hyundai Getz around until the petrol warning light comes on, before continuing to drive with that light shining brightly in front of her for a further couple of days, before only eventually deciding to stop in order to put some petrol in!
Needless to say, this makes me very nervous, particularly when you consider I hardly ever let my car’s petrol tank dip below a quarter full!
Anyway, she always admonishes me when I tell her to fill up, so I’ve long since given up lecturing her and rather just make alarmed noises whenever I climb into the car next to her and glance over at her fuel gauge.
So the other day I arrived home after a long day of work, and after Jessica had been put down for the night, we’re sitting in the lounge on the couch and enjoying a nice cup of coffee, when she bows her head and shamefully admits – yup, she finally went and ran out of petrol!*
Funnily enough, it happened just as she was on her way to fill up at her favourite Caltex petrol station (doesn’t it always), with the Getz coming to a spluttering standstill about a kilometre and a half away from the garage.
As it turns out, you can’t drive for three days on petrol fumes alone after all!
Stopped at the side of the road, she had to make the trek through to the garage on what was a very hot and sunny day, where luckily for her, she found one of her regulars at the guest house had just signed in for work (he is one of the managers there). She played the damsel in distress and twisted his arm to send one of his boys back with her, armed with enough fuel to just get her to the petrol station where she could then shamefully proceed to fill her tank up properly.
Absolutely classic! :)
Of course, she is now adamant that the only lesson she walks away with from this whole spectacle is the fact that instead of being able to drive for three days on petrol fumes, she now knows that she can only make two!
*Strictly speaking, she has run out of petrol once before, in Sanbel’s old Volkswagen Kombi whilst driving a group of tourists on a bit of a Cape Town tour. In her defence though, Kombis don’t come with petrol warning lights, meaning she was caught unaware! (We’ll ignore the fact that she left for a sight-seeing trip when the gauge was already well under quarter!)
This morning I was once again foiled at the pumps, but not by the lack of petrol attendants as has been the case over the last two weeks. No, as the guy who assisted me clarified, while the strike may very well be continuing on the television, the reality is that a lot of the guys on the ground have begun to return to work because simply put, two weeks off with no pay at that particular income level is not a particularly easy thing to do!
I had left home a couple of minutes later than per usual thanks to me wanting to run some updates on my Ubuntu machines and the need to console poor old Chantelle who is so frustrated because she can’t get a good night’s rest at the moment, meaning that the last thing I wanted to see as I pulled out of the parking lot was an empty fuel tank.
Great. Getting petrol in the early hours (i.e. 06:15) has not been a particularly smooth process this last little while, and so I thought I would hit a petrol station I don’t normally use, the BP garage on the corner by the Strand train station. And I was in luck – or so I thought – because as I approached I saw a petrol attendant in uniform, ready to serve.
Fantastic. So the petrol went in, I struck up conversation and finally whipped out my debit card to complete the transaction.
Except the stupid card reader didn’t want to connect. Three times. No problem, we’ll just use the different type of card machine in the office. No luck either. Three times again.
Sigh, so now I was in need of an ATM, the one thing that this petrol station doesn’t have going for it. Meaning that I needed to leave my car where it was standing and trot around the corner and down the road where there happened to be a Nedbank ATM available.
Brilliant. So out spewed the cash, which I carefully guarded from a rambling hobo lady who seemed intent on making as much colourful commentary as possible, not to anyone in particular mind you, but loud enough for the whole world to hear her mutterings.
Still, I made it back to the petrol station, paid the money, jumped in the car and was off – the entire incident wasting a rather agonising twenty minutes of my life.
But at least my Getz had a full tummy out of all of this! :)
So my beloved new girl Gina G. has already hit the 1100 kilometers travelled marked and so far she really is proving to be a wonderfully smooth, comfortable drive. I’m very happy with her on the road at this point, though there is just one thing about her that grates me a little: she’s one hell of a thirsty girl it would seem.
For some or other reason I simply assumed before I bought her that any car I purchase new today would automatically be more fuel efficient than Jetta Jameson, my old 1997 1.6 Volkswagen Jetta who is currently sitting unloved in the complex’s parking lot. She had about a forty litre engine capacity and off a tank I could get about 520 km before I felt the need to fill up.
Obviously I expected Gina G. to give me a little bit more loving, but I’m ashamed to say she only manages to give me about 500 km on the same size tank meaning that at this stage of the game, I’m slightly worse off in terms of fuel consumption at the moment – and with brent crude currently sitting at $87 per barrel on the world markets (making a near future petrol price hike much more than just a slim chance), not exactly the position I would have liked to be in.
Sure a lot of people are saying, “Oh c’mon, you just have to wait for her to settle in” or “Don’t worry, she’ll improve after her first service”, but man, there’s a sticker on the front window which I didn’t notice until my pops pointed it out after seeing it for the first time. And that sticker doesn’t bring good news.
And unfortunately as we all know, those stickers seldomly lie.
Oh well. Thankfully she makes up for her thirsty habits in a lot of other ways – like always looking sexy no matter what lighting conditions she encounters! :P
The on the other woman in my life front we get Chantelle, who naturally managed to snag my cold that I’ve been sitting with and progressed through each phase just like I previously had done. Shame, the poor girl has been as sick as a dog and done her best to stay away from work, but we all know our Chantelle – a workaholic right to the end!
(I’ve tried to nurse her as much as possible, even bought her pizza the other evening – which turned out to be a bit pointless for someone who can’t taste their food at the moment!)
One funny story I do have to share, coming out of this whole ordeal, happened the other morning when I woke up after a long and restful sleep (surprising because I was still recovering and was suffering from sore joints, a closed chest and a nasty cough), only to find the bed next to me completely devoid of all signs of my wife.
Now I would have thought she had maybe just gotten up to go to the bathroom, had it not been for the fact that Olympus was lying next to me in the middle of the bed – and he is generally not that an opportunistic fellow.
But I chose to ignore, and went back to bed for a bit, before finally getting up for real and stumbling through to the kitchen… where I walked in on a Chantelle blissfully asleep on the lounge couch under her red comforter, earplugs and all.
Well apparently I was so restless and noisy during the night thanks to my extra loud snoring due to the closed passageways, that at 01:00 she thought “Fuck it, enough is enough”, and got out of bed, grabbed her comforter and sought out a couch on which to try and get some shut-eye!
So shame, I guess it really is easier just to go sleep on the couch than try and rouse me when I’m in dreamland! :)
And now simply because I can, an awesomely cute view of Achillle who has now seemingly abandoned our house again now that Tessa is back from her Indian pilgrimage as well as a mention that Chantelle and I are currently engaged in a “Recording each other snoring” war – so far her evidence outshines mine it must be said! :D
(Oh, and in case you are wondering work is busy as all hell at the moment. Major problems to deal with on the coding front as well as yet another looming office move plus the addition to the team of our very first project manager – scary stuff! :P)
If any of you are lost, then you should be aware that of Wednesday this week, the price of all grades of petrol is going up by a massive 43 cents a litre.
This increase has been on the cards for a while now, thanks to all market fears over supply etc., so it is not like we didn’t know that it was coming, but still, 43 cents per litre extra is a lot to cough up at a visit to the pumps.
I wonder if bicycle sales have been on the increase lately and if SUV owners are kicking themselves yet?
Oh well, guess a couple of Rands extra aren’t going to hurt me too much. Except of course for all this driving to Gordon’s Bay. That’s a petrol sapper and a half (at least the pay-off for going there is worth it!)
Hmm…I wonder how many people are actively looking at switching to diesel?