Say you’ve decided to trade in your pile of crap car, after establishing that the cost of fixing it properly would end up being three times what the car is actually worth. A good decision, undoubtedly. So you head off to your regular dealership, and sign the papers to trade in the car and buy a new vehicle from them, to be delivered/collected the following week.
Say that weekend you have dinner at a lovely restaurant in an area famed for being not the most savoury of places of late. However, you return to your crap car two hours after dinner, and discuss with a mate how it seems Melville is not the thieving crack den you’ve been led to believe it was over the past two years. During your walk back to your car, you turn a corner to discover that your car is no longer in the spot you parked it a while earlier. In fact, it is nowhere to be found.
You laugh. Perhaps in horror, perhaps in disbelief, perhaps at the irony of the fact that you and your friend had just been re-evaluating your opinion of Melville, and now you would have to admit that you guys had been right.
Because you have further plans that evening, you go through the motions before heading to the Parkview police station to report the crime. You elect not to go to the Brixton police station, because two women (you and your mate) driving into Brixton at 22:00 on a Saturday night is like walking around your flat in the dark: you probably won’t hurt yourself, but the possibility exists that you could get badly hurt…like ripping open your shin on a sharp corner on a table you forgot was there.
Let’s assume the two somnolent, unwilling officers on duty at the Parkview police station say they can’t help you because their data capturer is off duty, at which point you decide to report your stolen car at a larger, and probably more efficient, police station. You head off to the Linden police station.
Say you arrive at the Linden police station, and you are treated relatively well by the officer on duty, who captures your details correctly except for an extra 0 in your identity number. Imagine, also, that during the half hour you spend relating the fucking unfair and bizarre tale of the theft of your vehicle, a woman arrives at the station to report an assault on her by her boss, and three drunk men arrive to report that one of their wives is ‘missing’ after jumping out of their car at a traffic light.
Imagine you are dropped off at home late on Saturday night sans remote control to your complex’s gate, forcing you to wake an 85-year old resident so that she can let you in. Think about the wasted hours and wads of paper that lie ahead of you. Think about the insurance company’s suspicion that you orchestrated the whole event because so many cars get stolen every day in Joburg.
And imagine how much worse it could have been.