Thursday, August 23, 2012

Your turn is coming.

You are not forgotten! 

On Tuesday I went to Sars in Randburg to do my tax stuff. What could have just been a 20-minute task ended up in a five-hour ordeal. I kid you not. Me and my friend walked in and got seated at about 11.30 and we only got helped after five hours.

I usually do e-filing. But somehow this year it just seemed a bit “macho” to physically go to one of the biggest Sars buildings in Mzansi. I’m kidding. I had my reasons.
Do not get me wrong. This is not a complaint. I actually learned something very important while there.

Here is what happens. When you walk in, the security personnel searches your bag, and then you proceed to a gentleman with a little box. In this box, there are little pieces of paper with numbers written on them. He asked me what I had come to do. “Personal tax returns” I said. He gave me a piece of paper with the number 654 written on it. Then he directed us to the next room.

My friend and I proceeded, and got seated. The “hall” was packed with people. Black, white, young, old.  All sorts of people. Far above on the wall, hanged what looked like a TV screen. And there were speakers. A voice from the speakers announced what number should go to which counter. 

And as a number was called, the same number appeared on the screen and it also showed the number of the counter where the holder of that number would be assisted. I paid attention to the screen, I realised that they were not calling the numbers in chronological order. The female voice (and a very irritating voice, I tell you) would say “ticket number 428 to counter 12” and then next say “ticket number 785 to counter 28”. I thought that my number (654) had a nice ring to it. So I told myself “agg, my number will be called in no time. One hour max!” At least I was not having unrealistic expectations. “One hour max!”
What a pain in the your know what.

Three hours later we were still sitting. Never been called. People came in and went out. After a while a very, very old man came in and sat next to me. I felt so sorry for him. He was number 855. “They should make plans to assist the elderly separately, so that they don’t queue for ages like the rest of us,” my friend said. And I silently prayed that this oupa’s number gets called soon, since there was no particular order. Otherwise it would be torture for him. I generally have a very soft spot for the elderly.

Eventually his number was called. And off he went. And I said a silent “Yes!” on his behalf.
Then this other guy came in, sat down, and within less than five minutes, his number was called. Commotion followed. People were like “what the hell?” But I did not pay attention. My focus was on the TV screen.

The watch hit 15.00. Numbers were still being called. People stood up. Some sat down. Others went up the stairs. Some came down. But my focus remained on the screen. At some point my eyes started to complain; and I was not sure if my eyes were sore because of hunger or because of starring at the blurry screen for long. But I did not care. I kept on hoping: “my number will be up next.”

I know that my boat will eventually come. 
A little later I stood up to stretch my feet. I got a bit worried when they called out number 1239. I walked up to the gentleman who was wearing a Sars T-shit. “I have been sitting down since 11.30, it is now 15.30, is there a possibility that they might have skipped my number?” He took my ticket and went to find out. After a minute he came back. “No, your turn is still coming. You will be called soon,” he reassured me.

I went back. After about 10 minutes my friend’s number was called. Up the stairs she went. Then this sophisticated lady waltzed in with her handsome son. It was impossible not to notice her. She looked very “upmarket” -- with nice make-up, long straight fake hair, nice red skinny pants, green blazer,12-inch stilettos. The works. I thought “when I grow up, I want to be like…” and before I could finish my thought her number was called!

I was fuming. How is this possible? I have been here for ages! This is total unfairness! Somebody please explain this to me …

When my friend came back, I complained to her. “Sometimes it is all about who you know inside,” she said in a very calm manner. I let it go. Being upset about it was not going to make a difference.

“Ticket number 654 to counter 12”

 Finally my number was called. You can imagine the relief that followed.

Oh cool. Finally ...
And you know what? I compare what happened at Sars to what happens in our lives every day.
The Sars ordeal reminded me that in life:

Being there first does not guarantee that you will “get in” first. Sometimes we have to wait patiently for what we need (or want). Sometimes, people who came after you will get in before you. You’ll just have to swallow your fury and deal with it. In life, we are all coded with numbers which are called randomly, and you should never sit back and relax because you don’t know when your number will be called. You want to be ready when your turn comes. And if you have been waiting for too long, just hang in there, know and believe that your turn is certainly coming. Sometimes people will go right ahead of you and snatch what you want badly… right in front of you. It is life.

And very detrimental to the wait is your attitude. A negative attitude will only make the experience unbearable.    
Maybe you are waiting for God to do something specific for you. Maybe you are whining and winging that you have been waiting for too long. Maybe you are this close to throwing in the towel.

But before you quit, remember this poem (Author Unknown):    
“Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, 
And you never can tell how close you are, 
It may be near when it seems so far, 
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.”

So, my beautiful dear … just wait, your turn is still coming. 

Ok, now back at Sars. As I proceeded to counter 12, all I could think was “thank goodness” and suddenly it didn’t bother me that I had been waiting for ages. I was just happy that my time finally came.

Not-so-lucky number 654.