Friday, April 21, 2006

Your Friday Night Traffic Report

I'm writing this at 6pm on Friday night. Half the staff at the office, who usually ditch work as early as they possible can, especially on a Friday, are still at the office, because we are all trapped in the building!

Ok, I admit that it's not actually as dramatic as all of that, but the situation is as follows: it rained today in Cape Town (first major rain of the autumn/winter season), so everyone everywhere ever came to work in their cars. Then everyone everywhere ever tried to leave work in their cars, all at the same time, it seems, and the result was massive gridlock throughout the city (and something for me to look at besides the depressing rain, since I can't see the mountain, which usually cheers me up). Apparently there's been a lot of flooding in various places in the suburbs and some of the roads leading off the (few) arterial roads that lead from the city, which is making it difficult for the traffic to move anywhere.

In the distance, in the photo below, you can see the Heerengracht Fountain. It was recently cleaned, at least, so the people stuck in the traffic nearby will have something refreshing to gaze at while they wile away their existence and hoot at their new-found traffic enemies (a common Cape Town pastime...that and flipping off their new-found traffic enemies).

In case you're wondering, they still haven't cleaned the office windows (I believe it's now on 18 months and counting), and these photos were taken with a phone camera...and it was raining, and it was getting dark outside.

Therefore the traffic report is as follows: if you're in the traffic, you're stuck. If you're in your office, you're stuck (but at least you can surf the web and post to your blog, like I am doing right now).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Even The Rich Reuse And Recycle

Yesterday I attended a rather high-profile press function in Cape Town. (I won't say any more about it, specifically, in order to protect the guilty.)

As usual, we were all given those plastic name tags into which the PR lady or, more likely, her junior, junior assistant, inserts a piece of paper with your name and who or what you are representing printed on it. If you are lucky. If you are unlucky and have fallen off their little list (or have arrived without replying to and accepting the invitation prior to the event) you end up with a hand-written piece of paper that other guests usually squint at when they try to read it, as the handwriting is usually illegible. It immediately makes you more of a social outcast.

These particular plastic name tags were the variety that only have the safety pin at the back, and no clip. I am no fan of safety pins in these situations because you usually have to find some way to attach the name tag to yourself in a rather hurried manner, and you usually have to try about three times before you get the thing remotely akin to something one could call straight. In fact, one person at the event, it seemed, was incapable of doing this and ended up wearing her tag vertically, which I found most amusing. Being a safety pin, of course, you also actually have to insert the damn thing through your clothing, which makes holes. Usually this is not particularly problematic or permanent as the pins are sharp, unless a situation arises such as that which happened to me yesterday - the safety pin was blunt. It took me a number of attempts to try and get the thing through my T-shirt, and all the while I was trying to hold a conversation with a colleague and avoid the gazes of the wait staff who were desperately looking for someone to serve.

A while later, still not satisfied with the outcome of my attempts and thinking that the badge was a little low (it was drawing gazer's eyes to an area I'd prefer they would not needlessly have to gaze towards...not at a press function, anyway), I decided to remove the badge and try again. To my horror, I found a huge hole in my T-shirt, so I had to put the badge back almost exactly where it was to try and cover up the hole.

At this point I would also like to point out that it is one of my favourite T-shirts although, thankfully, not one of my expensive ones.

The function then proceeded (20 minutes late, but that's normal for an event held in Cape Town) and later, on the way out, we were presented with our press packages, which were given to us in exchange for our plastic name tags.

Suddenly it all made sense. The safety pin was blunt because the badge had probably been used about 15 times before at other events, and the PR agency obviously doesn't have a safety-pin sharpener and polisher employed to maintain the quality of the tags. I can think of no other answer, as this has never happened to me before.

Now, I'm all for recycling - after all, I have amassed a small collection of these plastic badges at home from previous events, as no one's ever asked for them back and throwing them away seems so wasteful. I'm thinking of holding a press function at my house just so that I can get some use out of them. However, reusing these badges to the point at which they no longer have a point is a little ridiculous.

And my favourite T-shirt now has a strategically inconvenient hole in it, which really doesn't make me feel happy.



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