Home Opinion and Features The way of the draggin’

The way of the draggin’

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By dragging their feet and not addressing problems when they are small problems, those of us who ignore them are running the risk of creating issues that will one day be too big to solve, writes Lance Fredericks.

STUBBORNNESS could be the one character flaw that got me into the most trouble in my life.

When I got something into my head it was difficult to sway me from my intended path. Admonition, threats and even good advice would pause my intentions, delaying them for a while – mainly because my cowardice was more dominant than my stubbornness – but deep down I would secretly, determinedly be making plans to have my way.

I must have told the story already of how, when Castle Free was just introduced to South Africa, even before alcohol free beer was popular in Kimberley, I went out searching for the amber nectar.

I am not a fan of sugary drinks, in fact I rarely add sugar to anything I eat because I dislike the taste. I even tried natural sweeteners for my tea, but the raisins wouldn’t dissolve. Practically every drink in a store’s refrigerators is loaded with either sugar or an artificial sweetener. But beer … beer, I reasoned, would be cold, crisp, thirst quenching and satisfyingly bitter.

After coming up empty for a long time, and while I was nursing the frostbite that I had picked up with my frequent forays digging through snowballs in beer fridges at the back of liquor outlets, I finally found an establishment where the young man who offered assistance seemed to know about Castle Free.

“Castle has discontinued the alcohol-free beer,” he told me solemnly.

I was surprised, because just that week Castle Free had become the sponsor for the Blitzboks. That made me worry … what would the Blitzbokke do with a bare patch on their jerseys? And how would they pay for their liniment, energy drinks and corn plasters?

I mentioned the sponsorship deal to the young man, and he didn’t blink. He simply replied: “SA Breweries HAD to stop making it, because the machines they use to extract the alcohol broke.”

I left the store wondering why SA Breweries didn’t have a stove, seeing as at the time, the only way I knew of removing alcohol from a brew was by gently heating it until the ethanol evaporated.

But I wasn’t done; remember, I am stubborn. Stubborn like the little kiddo hopelessly outmatched in the fistfight, but keeps swinging because his friends are urging him on with chants of “Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee …” That little dragon, if he didn’t stop his foolishness, would soon be draggin’ his limp body off the playground.

I visited the next outlet on my list – realising that day how many liquor outlets there are in our small city. At this establishment the security gate was closed, so you had to give your order to the young man on the other side of the barricade.

“Do you have Castle Free,” I asked politely.

The young man had a look on his face that seemed to say, “wait till I tell my friends about this freeloading old fart”, but he hid his emotions well as he explained, “No sir, we only have the beer that we sell.”

I eventually tasted Castle Free three months later.

Now, if stubbornness can be used to indulge a shallow, frivolous desire for beer, I am sure that it can have a deeper, more positive impact. I say this because currently – and don’t roll your eyes when you read this – stubbornness on the part of cable thieves is still causing frustration, anger and havoc in Cassandra.

Cables are being stolen on almost a daily basis and there doesn’t seem to be a plan or even a desire on the part of authorities to put an end to this scourge. Meanwhile, food spoils in refrigerators, people who have to work from home are frustrated and appliances are being damaged by the constant power cuts.

I was exposed to what I believe can be the mindset of these cable thieves when I visited Delportshoop last weekend. While visiting with friends, my aluminium valve caps were stolen off my car’s wheels. As I drove off, a bit miffed at what had happened, I passed a group of boys who were laughing at me as they pointed at my car.

I assumed, or let me say I knew, that they were the ones who had stolen the valve caps; it was that obvious. But I had no proof. Oh how much I wanted to give them each a kop-klap, but I had to restrain myself.

When I was growing up, adults in this position would stop the car, grab one of the kids at the scruff of the neck and make them confess to their indiscretion and hand back the booty. This would make them more hesitant next time they were tempted to transgress. These days, however, we have to be careful of offending the sensibilities of sensitive souls, even if it means that getting away with stealing valve caps can lead to them becoming more serious criminals one day.

Look, the year is young – I have heard that dry January could last for several months – and so there is still time for someone to do something about the manageable but growing problems our city is facing. It would be very embarrassing – with reference to the massive effluent lake growing outside Platfontein and the overflowing sewage manholes in our city – to become famous for being the municipality that was outwitted by poop.

And to those who need to address the problem of regular cable theft, for example, I cannot believe that with all the resources, contacts and intelligence at their disposal, they can be outwitted and outmanoeuvred by unsophisticated, yet determined, or maybe I should say stubborn, cable thieves.

And herein could lie the problem. By dragging their feet and not addressing problems when they are small problems, those who ignore them are helping the perpetrators snowball their stubbornness.

So with problems looming, yet with solutions possible, I wish all our readers a happy and hopeful New Year.

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