Women and discrimination…oh boy

            After my divorce, it took a while to realise what I was up against. This was still in my BC days. There’d be advertisements in the paper for jobs or accommodation, and they’d actually say no divorcees need apply or no women and children, no pets, and so on. That was the norm in South Africa at that time.

            One of my jobs gave me a new company car. But after some months I heard various noises – I liked driving and noticed odd noises that didn’t belong – so along I went to the person who would need to know such things about company cars. He said he would look into it. I never heard. Then after some more weeks, the problem extended to the car veering to the side, plus, the brakes were making odd noises, which I told him. I also mentioned that some models like mine, had been recalled due to faulty brakes. I got the same condescending, rolled eyes look, as if I was bothering him, yeah, yeah, I’ll look into it.  

            One lunch hour I drove into town, to enrol my daughter in her first school the following year. On my way back to the car, I bought a few things for supper, my mom was staying with us for a bit, and macaroni cheese was on the menu. So, the shopping was eggs, milk, cheese etc. plus six dumpy bottles of beer. My Mom and I liked a beer. Travelling on the inside lane down the two-lane motorway, and noticing cars coming on up ahead, I moved across to the fast lane, to allow them to filter in. But the car immediately in front of me, coming on to the motorway, was an old beat up crock of a car, which crawled right across into the fast lane.

            The road was still slightly wet from earlier drizzle, so I touched the brakes ever so gently, they locked immediately, and I had nowhere to go. I just managed to pull the car over on to the inner hard shoulder. Another coat of paint and I would’ve connected with the cars I was now skidding past at speed on my left. Thank God I didn’t hit any of them, and, that the middle of the motorway was still bushes, and not the metal barrier now in place. I continued skidding down the shoulder with locked brakes and holding the steering wheel as tight as I could, to stay on the shoulder, then the car flipped. Over we went, rolling along, then spinning on its roof, and down to the middle grassy bit, which dipped slightly, till it came to a halt, still on its roof.  

            I crawled out of the driver’s window and looked around and up, there were cars everywhere and people running up to me, plus two helicopters buzzing overhead and pickup trucks all over the place. I think I laughed. Wow this was a whole other experience! I couldn’t believe it. I called out my daughter’s name, then they all shouted OH NO THERE’S A CHILD IN THE CAR, and ran to check it out. It was surreal – like in the movies.  No, no I shouted – she’s all I could think of, but she’s not with me, she’s at nursery school.  Phew major relief on all their faces.

Bless them, everyone was so wonderful. They were very concerned and wanted to take me to hospital, but I was fine, not a scratch, I didn’t even ladder my stockings – look – I said jokingly. They helped me gather my things – the pick-up guys had turned the car upright, everything was strewn all over the car, but all intact. The eggs were still in the box unbroken, and the six beer bottles were scattered about – also unbroken! We all had a laugh. Then one of the pickup trucks kindly took me to collect my daughter and then took us to his garage, where we changed cars and then he took us home. The car stayed because it was a right off.

            They let me use the phone first, to phone my boss. I knew they’d be peeved. I wasn’t popular with him or his secretary. I’m sorry to phone you so late, but I’ve just rolled the car and I’m in the garage. “Oh! So, you’re not attending the meeting then, he’ll be furious”! I felt like slamming the phone down, but just said no I won’t be attending the meeting, good bye.

            Nothing was done about it, not that I knew of. Everything was insured so no loss to them. I was made redundant not long after that.

            I wasn’t bothered in the slightest.  In fact, relieved. All I knew, was that a miracle had happened, why me – a dumb nobody?

But I was in a very bad place back then, my divorce bore down on me long after the awful day back in Pretoria, and I wasn’t coping. I couldn’t do anything right. When you believe you are dirt, you just accept the dirt that’s dished out, because you’re guilty, everything was my fault. Besides, divorcees are damaged goods and a waste of space, rejected by society, they conceived and had babies all on their own. It was time I moved on.  I was mentally, emotionally, physically spent. A right off – just like the car.

That was the third major car accident I’d had in the three years. And walked away from them all without a scratch. The first two were in my own car, and none of them were my fault.

Before I was married, I intentionally tried to roll my car late one night, racing round bends and carelessly doing insane things, but it never happened. Too good a driver someone said. I don’t think so.  

Me at the office

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