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Losing my shit

A post with lots of swear words and zero silver lining


The pharmacist is scurrying up and down like a nervous mouse. We make eye contact and her nose actually twitches. Amazing, the uncanny resemblance between people and animals at times, and sometimes, like now, between people and rodents. She is less productive than a rodent though. We’ve been waiting for 20 minutes, Tom and I. Tom has bronchitis, I have a perforated ear drum. Not to complain, but the day before I also snapped two tendons under my arm (all post mastectomy shit). I won’t call my arm useless but lets just say it’s not working as well as before and especially not when it comes to containing a 20 month old inside a pharmacy with rows and rows of stuff close to ground level where he can destroy it.

Finally we’re up next and in the 5 seconds it takes me to move to the counter Tom manages to bite into ten Crunchies. TEN mother fucking Crunchies. I wrestle him away whilst maintaining eye contact with the rest of the people in the queue. My stare says “I’m next in line, don’t you even dare”. They all back off, the mousy pharmacist does her thing on the system and then she looks up, twitches her nose and tells me that they don’t have the medicine prescribed to us.

I pay for the 10 Crunchies, but no medicine. Because they don’t have it in stock. Just the Crunchies. Silver lining I think to myself, I needed change for the parking ticket anyway.

Tom, my massive handbag and the 10 Crunchies exit the lift and I’m frantically searching for my parking ticket. I put the 20 month old octopus-like child down and I put the bag on the floor so as to have a better look inside. Someone opens the door and in a flash Tom runs into the parking lot. I dive, kind of lunge, after him. I swear at the guy who left the door open (in my head of course) and continue my search. The next moment the elevator door opens and Tom STEPS INSIDE. It’s a nightmare happening in slow motion. We are alone and there is nobody to help us. I hold my breath and blink my eyes. I have a small type of heart attack and then “Ding!” goes the lift. It opens up and there is the little thug, smiling his sweetest smile at me with his one missing tooth.

8:40-ish am
I simply cannot hang around in a parking garage with this kid any longer. No matter how cool he is. On the machine where you are supposed to pay for your parking there is a small button ironically marked ‘Help’. I press it one too many times but nobody answers my call for help so I decide to get us all in the car and head to the boom gate where surely I’d be able to explain my situation. I can prove it is indeed my car and indeed my kid and if you don’t believe me then take him, I guarantee you’ll bring him back in 10 minutes or so. And I’m very happy to pay the R10 parking fee. But somehow, in the chaos and the semi-useless-arm drama and while talking to a mousy pharmacist, my son lost or ate my parking ticket. This is what I plan to tell the helpful person at the exit.

Out of the basement garage and into the bright sun. Tom is wailing “mine, mine!’ He wants a Crunchie. My ear is hurting like a MOFO and all I can see is the voluptuous behind of one of the security ladies trying to put a new roll of paper into the machine into which your paid-for parking ticket should go. I say “Excuse me, I can see you are very busy”. (In my head I think how shitty it must be to have to do this, poor lady). I continue; “I have a bit of a situation. My son lost my parking ticket and I pressed the help button but nobody answered (how poetic), what can I do? I have the ten Rand for my parking here.” She glares at me like I’m that roll of frikkin paper that won’t fit into the machine where paid-for parking tickets should go and she says “Lost ticket, R36. Those are the rules”.

And just like that I LOSE MY SHIT. In an instant all the silver lining crap is out of the window. Gone, like the stupid parking ticket. Right now, right here, I’m tired of looking for the bigger picture, of milking every situation dry to see the perspective and learn the fucking lesson. We have been through a lot and we need a break. Either a break or a treasure chest like Idele said. I get that parking ticket lady’s situation probably also sucks and that it probably does not look like my situation sucks. I’m dressed ok-ish, I drive a nice car and I don’t have to force rolls of paper into machines that takes paid-for parking tickets. I say “Look, LOOK, eyes, eyes!” (I actually do the eye thing with my fingers to indicate we need to make eye contact). “I’m going through chemo, I have blood coming out of my ear, my son is screaming and there is about 7 angry motorists behind me. Please can you help me and if you can’t then please call your manager or supervisor as I need to blow this joint, as in now.”

She looks at me with dead eyes and says “R36”

I don’t know what do with myself I’m so angry and frustrated. I burst into tears and rattle off a number of Afrikaans swear words. Tom copies me and manages to say ‘Poephol’ and for a second I’m proud. Then another security guard appears. A non-hormonal and kind man. Through tears I shout “this lady is being so unkind, my husband and I have the loudest kids and we just need a frikkin break” (as if that has anything to do with anything). He looks at me with pity in his eyes, walks to the machine that takes only paid-for parking tickets and swipes his card. Whoosh! Just like that, the boom opens, the (now 9) motorists collectively sigh as they relax their bum muscles and we can finally blow that joint. I cry like that one time when Esli and I went to see ‘Dancer in the dark’. I leave tearful voice notes for Idelé and Jodi and Goose and Kevin and they are all so kind that I cry even more (by kind I mean that they not only say the right things but they also offer to break some knees if need be and they just generally get it).

I’m sitting in another parking garage. One that you don’t have to pay to park in. It’s just me and I finally have the medicine we need. A message comes through from Paula “heel aand van jou gedroom” (dreamed about you all night). I respond with “Ek het ’n shitty dag vol klein frustrasies en groot longe”. Press send. Demmit, I meant to say ‘Konte’ not ‘Longe’. That makes me cry some more. I’m sitting in the ugliest parking lot in the country, it is so badly designed. What is the world coming to when people who design parking lots like these are allowed to be out there designing parking lots like these??

Some days you just need a break. You are just tired of seeing it from someone else’s perspective. You just want to sit in your car and eat seven or eight Crunchies.


  1. Karen, this is the best thing I’ve ever read!!!! I had a crappy day and this made me laugh so hard I have mascara streaming down my cheeks!

    You rock!!! And you write so well that I’m too scared to try 😘

    Liked by 1 person

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