Towards Better Democracy

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Late


I arrive late for a meeting with a client in Nelspruit as it was called then, This is a no no in business, particularly in engineering. As the client face to the company I work for at this pointing my life, arriving late is bad practice and does not impress those with whom the company is doing business. I am habitually punctual, a habit I have had all my life. The flight is 40 to 50 minutes from Johannesburg, but a long, boring drive on the flat Highvelt, some 1500 feet above sea level. This is a new client and I have not met my counterpart before. I have been expected at 7.30 am and it was now 12.30 pm. The client meets me off the plane and does not look pleased, but says nothing, and we exchange pleasantries. I am good at my job and clients like me, and get on well with me, knowing me to be competent and attentive to their needs. He proves to be no exception.

When I tell my story as to why I am so late, the client’s shoulders lower and he smiles in understanding.

I had risen at 3.30 am in good time for a shower and a drive to the airport for the first flight of the day. I arrive at the airport a little before the plane I am to catch is due to fly out. The airport I go to is close to the edge of the city to the East, and an easy drive at that time of the morning. The plane that flies to Nelspruit is a small commuter aircraft seating maybe 12 passengers. I imagine that it will fly from this airport which is small and houses small private and business aircraft. This is where logically a small commuter aircraft would take off from.

There is nothing around. The tarmac is empty. Lights blare, doleful in the still dark morning. bored with their mandated duty. I find some flight mechanics working on a single seater, and ask them about the 6.30 flight. “Oh no,” they tell me in chorus, “That flight is at Jan Smuts.” Jan Smuts, the international airport to Johannesburg, is at least an hour’s drive far to the North, and the next flight is at 11.30.

I don’t think I have ever felt so foolish in my life.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 12 August, 2017

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Filed under: history, Media, Memoir, stories

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