Walking into the waiting room at the Fish Hoek Driving Licence Testing Centre, I look around to see where I’m supposed to sit. A woman in the third row calls out that I’m after the Navy man in the second row. While I consider that all the seats next to him are already taken, she points to a teenage girl on the other side of the room, saying, “He goes after her, and she’s after me.” Others pipe up until the whole queue has been announced. I think I should maybe try to get everyone to sit in order, but come to my senses and sit myself down in the front row. “They should have a number system”, a blonde woman says plaintively, to no reply. It turns out that I have to return the following morning, and it’s just the same: people sit where they like and keep a running tab on who follows whom. And again, it’s the middle-aged white women who are uncomfortable.
Later I tell a coloured friend about it and she laughs. “But that’s the way we do it. If you go to a clinic or anywhere, it’s always like that!” I offer that maybe there’s something nice about everyone having to rely on each other and be trustworthy. She agrees. “If someone goes out for a smoke or whatever and his turn comes, someone will go find him.” Read more