Bayanda Mzoneli

About Bayanda Mzoneli

Bayanda Mzoneli is a public servant. He writes in his personal capacity.

I just received an inbox message from a facebook friend. Let’s name him Joe for the purposes of this article. Him and I do not know each other enough for me to know that he won’t be embarrassed or offended by my use of his real name.

After a few exchanges on the facebook inbox, Joe says we should meet. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with someone asking to meet with anyone they think they need to meet with.

Unfortunately, when someone asks to meet me, particularly when we are not well acquainted, it brings me great heartache.

My daily weekday routine is home-work-home. On weekends, this routine changes slightly to bed-couch-loo-couch-bed. My entirely life revolves around these two routines. As a result, in 6 years that I have been in Gauteng, you can’t find a person who can claim that he/she hangs out with me. I can bet my negative overdraft balance on that.

Both my weekday and weekend routine fit perfectly in my quest for convenience, certainty and simplicity. The emphasis should be on convenience. The illustration of my quest for convenience that I quote most often, is that I have not worn shoes with shoe strings in 11 years. Every time I buy a new pair of shoes or takkies, I always make shoe it does not have shoe strings. Since making this wise decision long ago, I have never experienced the inconvenience of going down to fasten or unfasten shoe strings, except, in recent times when I have to do it for my daughter. I am considering extending this rule to apply to the entire family.

My job involves a lot of meetings. I do not have a choice but to attend and participate in those meetings. Although we try to keep what could be called a diary of these meetings, it changes so often that it makes the diary seem worthless. Almost 80% of the meetings are in my boss’ diary with the remaining 20% on my own diary that is dynamically adjusted to fit the gaps in the boss’ diary. The meetings often take the format of activities outside the office, outside the province and sometimes outside the country. Sometimes, which is most the time, the meetings do not respect office hours, the latest I ever knocked of at work for a meeting was 11pm.

When anyone, in this case Joe, asks for a meeting, a burden is placed on my shoulders. Now I need to try and find a day in which I knock off at 17:00. Finding such a day is close to impossible given what I just explained. Why not use a weekend? you ask. Indeed I would meet Joe on a weekend, if only I was absolutely certain that my boss’ diary will be such that there won’t be a meeting in the weekend that needs my attendance.

In the fortunate event that I find such a day where I am available to meet, I’d need to inform Joe in advance so he can include it in his plan to meet me on that day. It can’t be that Joe is generally idle waiting for me. He will probably have to cancel or reschedule some commitments to meet me. Whatever time I confirm to be available, is subject to change depending on whether something does or does not come up at work.

Everyday I must keep in mind that Joe wants us to meet. I should carry it with me and remember to constantly update him about possible slots to check if they permit in his own schedule. This is such a burden.

It is really not that I do no want to see Joe or anyone else for that matter. But it is really a huge burden to have a pending meeting, just to have drinks. Because if our meeting was about solving a specific matter, I would have find ways to solve it without us having to meet.

When Joe asked for the meeting on the facebook inbox today, I remembered that I owe a few people meetings.

A friend we will call Juice, attended my wedding over a year ago. I could not attend his because something came up. I owe him and his wife a visit as friend, aside from courtesy to reciprocate. In the queue is also a friend who is a celebrity, let’s name him Ndumiso. I had agreed to meet him a few weeks ago and something came up. I could not keep up with keeping him updated. There is also a friend we will call Perccy. He has since given up on asking me to come to a braai at his place or something like that.

There is also Vincent, Ngoako, Ntobeko, Bandile, Sibu and many others. So far I have mentioned people who are in Gauteng only. That is the queue that Joe is joining. I have not mentioned many more in KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

Any attempt to explain to these friends why we have not met is bound to sound like a silly excuse. For those with whom we are well acquainted, I find comfort that even though we have not met for over a year, they know I have no motive to avoid them, so it is just incidental. As for those with whom we are less acquainted, it is a burden on my soul that they probably think I am jerk who thinks he is too important to meet them. If we eventually do not meet anytime soon with Joe, he will also think I am a jerk.

I hate Malls for being too big and depleting my overdraft. I only go to a mall to if it will bring me greater inconvenience not to go there for what I will go there for. The size of the mall means I have to walk kilometres from one end to another because the parking is on the other side while the shop I want is on the other end. Then there is sheer crowding without the lanes, people stopping without hazards, others walking slowly when I am in hurry, trying to maneuver the protocol for escalators (do I ride immediately or wait for a full step to fit my foot perfectly). Then there is an infinite list of things I forgot I wanted that keep depleting the generous overdraft by the bank.

I hate driving for its weight on my limited faculties. Who goes in first at the traffic circle? Is that even the correct name. What are the directions to a place, hoping the direction I once used does not have detours. Then there is truck driver who has been driving from Cape Town and is about to pass me, what are the odds this is his moment to doze. How old is the licence of the 8 cars around me in this 3 lane highway, what are the odds this is the moment for their mistake.

I hate restaurants for their bad food. All restaurants in the world serve food that is less than 100% of what you prefer. Some really good food outlets (it’s hard to spell restaurant, let’s stick with outlet) would serve you food that meets up to 95% of what you want. The problem is the 5% is the important bit. Even their cranberry juice will be a bit sour than what the taste buds anticipated.

My hatred for Malls, driving and food outlets does not make my situation any better. In the unlikely event that the time is available, I still have to find directions to wherever we will meet. Then we might eat or have drinks at a food outlet that serves bad food.

Once we pass all these hurdles and eventually meet, whoever meets me will still have endure the bore that I am. I have no jokes and I rarely find common jokes funny, though I would laugh to try and fit in. The only reason I am a Chiefs fan is to sustain the office pre-meeting small talk, I rarely pay attention to any sports. I do not have views on politics because my bread is buttered on all sides, literally all sides. I hold views that may offend most people on religion. I live a monotonous life so I can not tell of personal adventurous highlights. Eventually the conversation will consist in listening to the other party the whole time and nod when they make a remark they approve of.

In order to lighten the burden of these pending meetings on my soul. I am really planning to meet all these people at least before 2020. Inshallah.

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