Waiting for bus of dreams
This week's column is terrifically highbrow. It is not the usual flimflam you have come to associate with this space.
In fact, it is so highbrow that, if you manage to read this column to its conclusion, you shall be entitled to consider yourself an intellectual. Good luck.
Today's column is about unemployment. It is a subject I know intimately, having being unemployed myself for four-and-a-half years. (In case you're wondering; writing newspaper columns doesn't qualify as work - it is much more a divinely ordained calling to spread enlightenment and goodwill among the world's reading public.)
When I try to shirk my share of a bill because I am "unemployed and suffering", my friends tell me that I am talking bunk and that I am actually "self-employed".
They are, of course, splitting hairs. Fact is, though, that most months I have no idea where the next Spar rotisserie chicken is going to come from. But, on the whole, I suppose, unemployment has been unusually kind to me. Most mornings I walk my children to school. Sometimes after that I meet a friend for a coffee before dawdling my way back to my home office.
There I play computer solitaire and sometimes do some work before breaking for a mid-morning snack. Occasionally I watch day three of the fourth test between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe or some such piffle for an hour or two.
I then usually do something constructive until, before you know it, it's time to pick up the children.
I then feed them and do a bit more constructive work until it's time to oversee their homework and feed the little blighters again. And so day follows day.
This is the ideal day of an unemployed person such as myself.
My problem is that people keep bothering me with work. For which they pay me. This is terrifically satisfying, though, and it pays the bills, including those for the rotisserie chickens.
Now for the highbrow stuff I mentioned at the outset: Sigmund Freud once posited there were only two things that gave life meaning: love and work. Revisionists have added to these two a third element: beer. I believe they might have a point, but back to being highbrow.
I know from bitter experience that not working is not all it's cracked up to be. It is alienating and downright tedious. So, when I have work to do and have to throw all-nighters I'm actually as happy as Larry. While I might revel in being unemployed there is nothing I enjoy more than a bit of toil. And if you have children and you're not working, you're constantly wondering how you're going to feed them.
Half of all South Africans under 25 have no jobs. Half of those entering our school system will never have a formal job at all.
Only a small minority of these people will ever be happy not working. We need to work because it pays for roast chickens. And it gives our lives meaning.
So I read with great interest that the Department of Labour has got itself a bus with which it is going to "roam" the country to register job-seekers "as part of a campaign to ramp up and keep an up-to-date national database of job-seekers".
You taxpayers might not be terribly thrilled with what sounds like a rather daft way to spend budget allocations. Or the news that the department has its eye on no fewer than eight more buses so that every province can have its own bus "roaming" around mopping up the unemployed.
The fact that a government bus emblazoned with all sorts of encouraging signage rolls into your neighbourhood and that you get to be registered on some or other database can only create an expectation: that sooner or later you will get a job as head of SAPS crime intelligence or as governor of the Reserve Bank.
All over the country, unemployed people will be daydreaming about what colour Toyota Corolla they're going to order after they become municipal manager.
I just hope I'm not playing solitaire when the jobs bus roams past my house. I got a Standard Grade B for maths in matric, can recite all the planet names from Mercury to Alpha Centauri and think that the SKA telescope thingummy could use my skills and knowledge to the betterment of science, Sutherland and society. I just need to get on the Department of Labour's database.