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All your base are belong to us

Call Centre Girl: Hello. Am I speaking to Diane, please?

Me: Yars.

CCG: This is the Democratic Alliance. We just need to know if you’re still living at 6 Behr Road.

Me: [Whoa. Who needs the Scorpions?] No. I … um … moved to Woodstock.

CCG: What is your new address there?

Me: [Don’t panic. Just tell them the truth. They’ll find out. They always do.] 44 Oshkosh Street.

CCG: And the suburb?

Me: University Estate.

CCG: And your cellphone number? Is it still 082 304 7539? [cites Pleistocene-era housemate’s contact number I once, between countries, used for two weeks. The only people who ever had this number were those at Standard Bank.]

Me: [Bastards! Bastards!] Ah, I’ll just be using the landline. This number. Yup. The one we’re on.

CCG (disbelieving): The landline. Right.

Me: [Heyyy. Wait a minute …] Just as a matter of interest, how did you get this number? Because it’s my new one.

CCG: Oh. You know the junk-mail guys? We buy the information from them.

Me: And who are “the junk-mail guys”?

CCG (cheerful): I don’t know. They get it from FNB competitions and stuff. They buy it from FNB.

Me: [Standard Bank sells on my confidential information? To another bank? Which then passes it happily on to the junk-mail guys?] I see.

CCG (undeterred): May I ask if you’ll be supporting the DA?

Me: Er. Ha ha. No.

CCG: Why not?

Me: [How do I explain my guilt and ennui about what passes for democracy in the 21st century? The posters that burn the back of the eyeballs? The fat man singing songs out of tune? The massive disappointment of the Patricia de Lille Backfire Campaign? I’m a voice in the wilderness, Call Centre Girl. What is it all for? The leg-waxing? The tax-paying? Nobody feels my pain. Come election day, I’ll be the one in the camel-hide toga, chowing locusts and frothing about betrayal.] I’m in a bit of a quandary, actually. The ANC is pretty sucky at the moment, but the DA doesn’t seem to be doing very much at all, and …

CCG: Thanks for your time. Bye. [Click.]

Me: I’ll just wait here by the phone. Soon I’ll hear from the Freedom Front. Medi-Clinic’s aerial-spraying my ID and credit-card number all over Bellville even as we speak.


  • Diane Awerbuck's first novel, Gardening at Night, struck it lucky. She writes textbooks and fiction (most recently, Cabin Fever) and reviews books for the Sunday Times. Her doctorate, The Spirit and the Letter: Warblogs, Trauma and the Public Sphere, is due out in 2012, along with another novel.