Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's probably all my fault

Okay, I think I figured out what the problem was.

You see, I was just thinking about all you guys, my faithful readers. I was thinking, after the holidays. “Now WHAT am I going to write about NEXT? Have I run out of steam? Everything here in South Africa is starting to seem normal, ordinary, familiar. I need to have something HAPPEN! Gosh, I really don’t want to become dull, just nattering on about jacaranda trees and the weather.”

Yes, those were my real thoughts, on about January 4th or 5th. So shall I be superstitious, and think that I brought it on myself? I’m good at taking the blame for random bad sh-- that has nothing to do with me. Always saying “sorry” and such, for things I didn’t do.

Mmmm hmmmm. Now there’s some thinking that could use some re-working, hey? Maybe therapy is in order. We’ll see.

Right. So where were we?

Oh, yeah. In the bathroom at the Pilates studio, along with my eight new best friends. We all just sat or stood as we were. Happily, the bathroom was on the larger side, with a bathtub even, so there was plenty of room. Well, relatively speaking, I guess.

We then just had some time to simply “be”. Locked there in the bathroom. Existing is a nice feeling, compared to the alternative. Breathing. Listening. Breathing. Thinking. We kept still and listened. Listened for steps coming back down the hallway. More hostages, maybe? Or maybe they might come back, just to be... cruel? No noises. None. Nothing. Breathing easier, just a bit.

More waiting. We started whispering amongst ourselves a little. “Are you okay?” “How did they get in?” “Did you see the white bakkie in the car park?” “Do they all have guns?” Whisper, whisper, whisper. We looked through the keyhole. Yup, the key’s still there in the lock. “How are we going to get out of here?” “Do you think they’re still here?” Whisper, whisper. “What did they take of yours? Did you see how many cars are out there in front?”

We began to wonder. Maybe they had gone. It was 15 minutes or so since I’d come in, and we’d heard nothing more. Cilla was getting angrier by the minute. “Where in the world is security? It’s a pity no one has a cell phone.”

One of the two women I didn’t know sort of squeaked, and whispered, “I have one. I hid it in my knickers while he was going through my handbag.”

“You have one! Why didn’t you say something?” asked Cilla.

“I didn’t think we should call so soon. We need to wait.”

Lawrence stepped over and took the phone out of her hand. “I’ll call my partner, and he can call ADT and the police.” So Lawrence dialed, and whispered, “Hi, listen very carefully. We’re locked in a bathroom at the club, we’ve been robbed. Three guys with guns. You must call the police and ADT security. The address is 74 Ballyclere Drive.”

“SEVENTY EIGHT! SEVENTY EIGHT!” we all whispered loudly.

“Seventy eight! OK, call, get us out of here!”

Joan said, “Now we must turn off the phone, it can’t ring while we’re in here. Please. Please! They killed my mother and grandmother, like this, twenty years ago. We can’t upset them. We mustn’t.... we mustn’t....” Tears came then, to Joan’s eyes, and Cilla hugged her.

As the owner turned the phone off, it made that big Nokia good-bye tune, and everyone erupted in fits of coughing to try to cover up the sound. Oh my GAWD. Did they hear?

Meanwhile, I’m closest to the door, and all I can think about, besides my phone, credit cards, car, and so on, is the movie “Three Days of the Condor”. Remember the scene where the whole agency office gets hit, and one guy tries to escape and hides in the bathroom? And then the shooters just shoot right through the bathroom door, and the guy dies? (Duh....) I was so shocked when I saw that movie, years ago, with that scene. Because I had not really realized that bullets can go through wooden doors. I mean, of course they can, but I had just never thought about it. The wood splinters, bap bap bap, it’s pierced through now, blood spurts out now, pulses out of a living being, it’s spilling over the floor now, a person dies... yes, a door isn’t much protection.

So here I am, on the wrong side of a wooden bathroom door, and there are people with guns outside. Yuk. I thought about moving over to get into the bathtub, but decided that it would look so cowardly that I just couldn’t be arsed. Besides, what were the odds, anyway? I’d already had my share of bad luck this morning. Perhaps it wouldn’t get worse. And why make it obvious that you’re a complete wimp, in your last moments on earth? Please. Some balls, please. Be a man. Or something.

Toni opened the window a little. It was getting warmish. Now I was thinking, “Great, we can’t climb OUT the window, because of the burglar bars. We can SEE out, but we can’t GET out. Lovely. I HATE this effin’ crazy effin’ place.”

Cilla said, “My God, the police are certainly taking their time. Probably don’t have a car available, or something.”

Toni said, “O, look there, out the window. It’s an ADT guy.” She softly called out to him, “Hey, hey, over here! We’re all locked in the bathroom at the back! Come! come let us out!”

Another minute or so, and we heard voices, and footsteps, and then the key turned in the lock. The door opened so cautiously, and me hiding directly behind it (hoping perhaps to get my nose smashed in?)There were Mel and Nicolette, two other Pilates class members, and ADT right behind them. Mel was smiling but Nicolette’s eyes were big as saucers. Never so glad to have a door opened in my whole life.

Mel said, “We were just up there, stretching, getting ready for the class. By a quarter after, we started wondering. We thought, ‘Well, Karine’s REALLY taking advantage now! We won’t be getting our money’s worth today, hey?’ And then Nicolette went downstairs to look for Karine, and saw handbags upside down everywhere, and realized what had happened. She came running back up, saying ‘they’ve been hit! get dressed! we must get out of here now!’”

Mel laughed. “You know Nicolette, so dramatic. But I thought, ‘where ARE they? we have to find them!’ so we started looking. And thank God, here you are.....”

Yeah, man, here we are. Thank God.

We file out of the room, and everyone starts wandering about, looking for their stuff. I walk into the next room, and right there is my handbag, lying on the floor. Inside it, my cell phones, glasses, diary, pens, lipstick, hair ties... no cash wallet or credit card wallets though. Oh oh. Credit cards. This will be a disaster. I don’t even know what I carry. (And I had just told Mr D to record everything in his wallet, but did I do it MYSELF? Nooooo...)

I wander more, looking for my keys. No keys. I walk into the kitchen, and there on the kitchen counter is my green Harrod’s credit card wallet, just lying there. Everything’s in it. Can you believe? I can’t. The cash wallet is gone though, and they’ve even cleaned out my coin purse, the rats.

There are credit cards scattered all over the floor in the different physio rooms, and lippy and tampons and papers and receipts and what-have-you. Rather a mess. We can’t decide whether to pick up our stuff and go, or leave it to be fingerprinted. Pick up and go, that would be best, maybe. No one wants to go, yet everyone wants to leave. Really, everyone wants to run the clock back, just an hour, and do the morning differently.

The new receptionist (yes, there actually WAS a new receptionist, but she’s Swiss and female and white and was locked in the bath with the rest of us, not South African and male and black and holding a gun out at the front desk), she made everyone some tea. There’s the old colonial British influence. A nice cup of tea, hey? Makes everything better.

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