7th June 2020

Originally morse code for three dots (S) three dashes (O) three dots (S) the letters SOS are not an abbreviation for anything despite the phrase ‘Save our Souls’ being in popular usage. The phrase SOS is in general usage today and indicates a need for action or a crisis.

This Sunday, some hilarious moments from the personal experiences of Steve Lunderstedt during the first 60 lockdown days, while next Sunday 14 June shall begin the exciting monotony of lockdown according to Steve – the week that was.

He has lived in Kimberley since June 1980, a city central to everything and nothing in South Africa.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Sneezing and the Beggar

I was quite happily doing my early morning walk in the front yard of the property, twenty circuits minimum, each circuit exactly 84 metres. It was dawn, the sun not yet arisen, but it was not gloomy. In fact it was quite bright and with the fence separating the garden from the street consisting of wrought iron with brick pillars, easy for me to see any person on the other side through the various shrubs, bushes and trees.

So there I was, minding my own business striding away forcibly like only a dedicated walker can do, when I saw out of the corner of my eye, a beggar/hobo/vagrant walking up the street towards the house – on the other side of the wall of course. Now I knew this man, he used to have a business which sadly collapsed due to alcohol, and he had sort of lived in the rough ever since. Like some golfers do too for that matter. If the golf courses were open, that’s where THEY would be. Now the hobo did not know that I had seen him so he hid, waiting behind a naartjie tree on the pavement, ready to pop out and urgently request a donation as I came close of him.

I knew he was going to do just that, so as I turned the corner and headed in his direction, approximately 15 metres away from his hiding position, I deliberately let out an extremely noisy and vibrant sneeze. I am exceptionally good at these pretend sneezes even if I say so myself.

Well, well, well. The legs that I could see waiting in ambush for me suddenly turned and moved away rapidly. Very rapidly. By the time I reached where he had been waiting for me, he was already some distance away and not looking back. No real need for money it seems…

I gave another loud sneeze just for good measure.

Friday 17 April 2020

A dark meeting – The illegal jogger and gardener

I sneaked out before sunrise, so it’s still dark around 6am with winter on its way, to rake all the small green naartjies and leaves ripped off the pavement trees by the recent vicious storm. It is illegal to be out of the yard and on the pavement during lockdown hence me doing it early and in the dark. You know – easy escape before detection. Or no detection at all. I felt like a naughty child, a feeling I know only too well from my youth.

(While writing this, I hear an ambulance siren in the near distance. Why on earth are they using a siren? It is just after midnight during lockdown. Are they clearing the road of traffic?)

Back to the story. Well, obviously I am not the only one escaping lockdown for a few minutes as in the distance coming up the road is a lady doing what must be her daily jog/run. Nothing is going to stop her, just do it earlier and in the dark when you KNOW that no-one, especially the law enforcers, will be around. Most skellums (people up to no good) are also under lockdown so reasonably safe for a lady to go for a jog at this time of day.

Now I am hidden between the two naartjie trees and the light from the street lamps does not make me visible, and here comes this lady jogging merrily towards me, mind quite obviously far away. She does not see me, and as she reaches parallel to where I am I greet her “Good Morning”. The chances are good she is Afrikaans speaking so I greet her in Afrikaans.

What then happened was not in slowmo.

She leapt about a metre high and at the same time about two metres away from where I am standing. Her arms windmilled quite dramatically and when she hit the ground her legs were doing something similar to beep-beep the road runner.

She was gone in a flash at a speed I am sure she normally does not do, she never uttered a sound, and all I could smell was the burning rubber from her track shoes.

She never reciprocated my greeting either.

I wondered what she thought?

I waited this morning (while doing my legal walk in the enclosed garden) from 05h45 until 06h30 to see if she was again doing her jog.

If she was, it most certainly was not past the naartjie trees.

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Roadblocks and a Hardware Store

While driving for essential goodies (bread, milk and newspaper) earlier today I noticed that the police had a roadblock on the Bloemfontein road (N8) right next to my flats where I normally reside. Remembering that I am staying elsewhere at this stage because my flat was only renovated and ready the day before lockdown on 26 March. Me did not have enough time to move back in – it took five weeks to move out!

Back to the police and their roadblock/s and other duties whatever they might be. They have been very visible and extremely keen during lockdown to enforce the many petty and pathetic rules and regulations. For some people and their families in South Africa this has been a nightmare indeed.

In ‘normal’ times the police service vehicles are generally seen only on their pay day and in the car parks of supermarkets. Now they are everywhere including patrolling looking for joggers breaking the curfew and not wearing their masks. Serious stuff this.

Did I tell you about trying to get into a building hardware shop the other day – to see if they sell the odds and ends I need for my flat? No? Prepare to get bored but also realise it’s only a few paragraphs. I promise.

I was number 4 in the shop queue to get in at 08h00. I got in at 08h25 because they have three salespeople and a salesperson has to be available to walk around the shop with you. Hence, after the first three have entered, only one person at a time can go in, but this after one person has exited. You need a salesperson with you, you see. And I was only looking. Eventually I got in, the looking took five minutes, but I did find something I had to purchase. I was now second in another queue, the line to pay at the one cashier on duty.

The law now states that for each and every purchase made, cash or otherwise, the firm has to have full name, address, and cellphone number. This according to the cashier. Hello communist state, here we come! Presumably this is to catch the firm and/or the customer selling/buying non-essential goods. Hard to believe is it not? Even Ripley would find it so.

It took 15 minutes for me to make it from next in queue to actual payment, so I waited/wasted 40 minutes of my life in queueing at one shop. What I did not know was that my experience would continue a little longer. You see, there was a security person watching me make the purchase and the cashier packing the exactly one goodie into a plastic bag. This from about 2 to 3 metres away. This security person noted, naturally, that I placed the receipt in my wallet and placed wallet in my bag. I then attempt to leave. Oh no I don’t, cannot make it past the officious security person, whom I may add, is only doing the job she was ordered to do by the management.

Having watched both me and the cashier the security person then emptied the packet of the one item and requested the receipt to make sure that they balance out or something.

I was very very close to expostulating but knew that it was not her fault, it was in her job description. Fine for normal times I am sure but not for this lockdown where it is best – if you have to go out – to do your thing as quickly as possible and then get back home to relative safety.

All in all, my first stop of a planned four shops that morning took exactly one hour, and that was that, back home I went to mutter into a cup of coffee firstly and then into my pillow.

I do not know yet if I like being a communist.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

The Mask, Nostrils and Sneezing

This story is while I was doing my essential shopping (bread and milk and newspapers). Several other people have had similar experiences.

We all have to wear masks in public.

That is fine, no hassle there, but it is how one wears those masks that is getting to me, and no-one appears to do anything about it. The rule actually says cloth masks but so many people had bought hundreds of genuine hospital and triple layered paper masks that the ruling was sort of ignored. Never mind, back to these masks. The rule clearly states that you must wear one and it must cover your mouth and nose. Please note: mouth AND nose. Well, there are so many walking around with the mask just covering the mouth, and nostrils are allowed free rein to contaminate all and sundry within snorting and blaring distance.

The fine leader of the men and women in blue is a perfect example. You know him, he who wears a fashionable hat when speaking to the media about whatever. His mask covers his mouth only. Tut tut tut. Not good.

I witnessed another hilarious incident in a busy and very popular shop earlier this week. I hung on to the story because I knew I would be mentioning masks sooner or later. Apart from the incident being funny it is also frightening because they live amongst us, eating, walking, breathing, etc.

Now this worker, because that is what he is, was busy packing the shelves of the supermarket, and was quite enjoying himself, humming away. In accordance with all the rules he was wearing all the necessary protective items including one really good cloth mask. I was standing next to him so was a very close witness to what happened next.

Wait for it…

This happy humming fellow needed to suddenly sneeze so off came the mask rapidly and the resultant explosion went into his arm and sort of crooked elbow, droplets going all over the place. And next to me. He then calmly and quietly replaced the mask back over his mouth and nose and carried on packing, humming away merrily.

State of shock was I?

I leapt upwards and outwards at the ferocity of the sneeze and moved away quite quickly from the happy chappy. I mean, he was happy so who was I to advise him that the mask is in fact there to cover the sneeze. Perhaps he thought that the mask must not get dirty?

So what with masked faces showing nostrils clearly and others removing said mask to sneeze, it appears that educating all and sundry about the wearing of the mask in public has not really worked.

Other than the leader of the blue men and women, photographs have also appeared of lawyers, doctors, nurses, TV interviewers, TV interviewees, etc, all wearing masks that show off the nostrils. Small ones, large ones, wide ones, prim and proper ones, majestic roman ones, but all the same – banned nostrils being shown. And there are children present too!

I’m sure there’s a film here…The Wearing of the Mask.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Three elderly ladies started the Toilet roll binge buying

Why on earth did we, or some of us, stock up on so many toilet rolls before the lockdown began? Many of us, or perhaps these days only some of us, did military service and we were issued with three sheets of toilet paper. Per day. Believe me, three sheets does not go far so alternative plans were entered into but even then on occasion leaves or mealie (corn) cobs had to be used. Actually, writing that made me think that using leaves again may possibly have prompted the sudden rush to ensure more than enough supply of two ply during lockdown.

The main reason, or so I gather from my consultancy team of scientists and experts that no-one has ever heard of before the chinese virus hit our shores, is that because of the initial shortage of face masks (in the USA) it was suggested or recommended that toilet roll and kitchen roll paper be used as a temporary measure. You know, wrap the paper around your nose and mouth, but not so tightly you cannot breath. Actually makes sense but that particular message never reached me or thousands at binge buying time in the middle of March this year. (I added the words ‘this year’ in case the chinese virus scenario continues into next year). Even I purchased a few extra hundred rolls but I have a different reason for my purchase. Like you all, I had also witnessed on TV the hundreds (or thousands) of Americans/Australians rushing in to stores and coming out with bulk packages of toilet rolls. I thought it funny, and no doubt many of you thought as much too.

Until one day. There is always ‘one day is one day’ and has nothing to do with the lottery. That one day, minding my own business without mask, gloves, or stress as it was pre lockdown and subsequent takeover by the Stalinists, I was relaxing in the car park of a supermarket chain store studying my bank statement. Not for long though as it was not a very long statement, when all of a sudden I saw an unusual movement.

It was three elderly ladies, the use of the word ‘elderly’ meaning they were older than I, literally staggering out of the supermarket carrying these massive bulk packs of toilet rolls. And they were staggering, both the ladies and the size of the bulk packages. What did these three dears know that I did not? Shortage of toilet rolls coming up? The chinese virus ensures that your bodily edifices require more paper?

Well it certainly got me moving into said supermarket where I bought several dozen of those packs that hold 10 rolls each. And guess what? I was not the only one to have seen those elderly ladies making their purchases as there were dozens of ‘us’ loading these bulk packages onto the trolleys.

Panic buying was and is fun!

Have a wonderful week, if possible.


One thought on “SOS – Steve on Sunday”
  1. Hi Steve, your reference to military days and the 3 pieces of toilet paper per day in a rat pack, reminded me of the QM Sergeant advising us that it was more than adequate. One up, one down and one shiner!

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