On the horns of a dilemma
As South Africans we are notoriously critical of others and totally intolerant of anything to do with any inconvenience or even minor irritations when it comes to disruptions in how we want and expect to go about living our daily lives.
Regardless of whether it’s at work, at play or at home, even the slightest disruption to routine or what we take for granted prompts a reaction that will range from a gentle sigh of resignation to a maniacal outburst of violence.
Manifestations of this attitude are all around us – from silent but extremely expressive "finger signs" flashed by motorists at other road users during rush hour, to outbursts of extreme violence and even killing when it comes to incidents of full-blown road rage.
Mass action or protests against more serious issues such as "lack of service delivery" or demands for better wages are characterised by anything from festivals of singing, dancing and chanting to full-blown riots.
For the most part, serious disruptions to business and life in general caused by flaws in the country’s infrastructure, such as power blackouts, periodic shortages of commodities, water cuts and the failure of telecommunication services, tend not to spark mass action. Instead, these problems are inclined to prompt verbal expressions of frustration and extreme criticism aimed primarily at the government.
At the other extreme of one of our national characteristics, we are told that South Africans are among the most passive, submissive consumers in the world – that we are far too tolerant and accepting of bad service and poor quality products.
All this brings me to the dilemma I have been faced with all week. For the past five days our company’s telephones have been out of action.
A routine call to Telkom to report the fault resulted in assurances from the national operator that the problem was nothing to do with them and that it must be our switchboard. Our switchboard service provider has assured us that it’s nothing to do with the PABX – that it’s a Telkom problem.
Now I’m totally confused. I’m not too sure whether or not I should take to the streets chanting and singing, indulge in a truly vicious one-man riot, commit murder, stick my middle finger up in the air at both Telkom and the PABX service provider, or let out a gentle sigh of resignation and admit that I’m one of those South African consumers who is far too tolerant of poor service.
– David Bryant