We’re jabbin’, jabbin’, And I hope you like jabbin’, too

I never expected to hear back from the government after I registered on their vaccine site. I mean, this is the government, right? They only reach out when they want our money, blind trust or vote.

Then, astonishingly, I got an SMS to say I had an appointment at the Ocean View civic centre in three days’ time. I went into a panic and reached for the tequila. I was no longer sure if I even wanted it. What if the lunatic fringe was right and my body turned into a radioactive hotspot setting off car alarms and broadcasting Radio Moscow from my ass?

Ocean View is a two-minute drive from where I stay. Close enough to hear the gunshots on Friday nights but not so close that property prices are affected. The gangs are more violent than those from Masiphumelele down the road but the shebeens are better stocked. Murderous pit bulls, feral children and scraggy addicts roam the streets. An ideal vaccination site, in the eyes of our magnificent health department.

The appointment was for 10am. At 9.45am I was still in bed doing research and becoming increasingly confused. The vaccine won’t stop you from getting Covid or passing it on but it might save you from dying although it might also hack into your genetic code and implant microfiche and chips and turn you into a mutant.

I drained the last of the Jose Cuervo and seven minutes later, hopelessly lost, pulled up outside what looked like a crack house. I asked a man with a goat’s head tattooed on his neck for directions. 

“Gettin’ jabbed, yo,” I said, putting on my gangsta face. He had on his unimpressed face and made some kind of hand sign that was either directions or a death threat.

With steel mesh bolted across the windows and iron doors at the entrance, the site looked more like a prison than a civic centre. I joined the line of eight people outside. It looked promising. I’d be out in no time.

I might have known the real queue was inside, perched anxiously on three rows of plastic chairs. Everyone was white. Judging by the size of their eyes and the way the women were clutching their handbags, this was their first time in a township. An official was addressing them in a deep Cape Flats accent made even more incomprehensible by her mask.

She said something about the time and that if people didn’t have cellphones there was a clock on the wall. She pointed at the clock. People turned to look at it. The clock had quite clearly stopped working at 12.10, possibly in 1968. It worried me that nobody pointed this out. Did they really think that was the time? Perhaps they were past caring.

The strip lighting had been flickering since I walked in. Nobody seemed to care about this either. I turned to the moth-eaten woman next to me and said, “Nice for the epileptics.” She snorted behind her mask, then held up the pamphlet we’d been handed. “Have you read this?” she said. “Is it too late to flee?”

The pamphlet thanked us for getting vaccinated and warned that mild side effects were common. The symptoms sounded identical to those of a common hangover and I, consequently, was unafraid. We were also informed that up to four in a million might suffer a “severe allergic reaction”. Fighting odds, but still. Nobody wants to go into anaphylactic shock with a syringe hanging out of their arm while geriatrics burble bad advice and prod you with their Zimmer frames.

The queue was moving quickly. Go in, get poked, come out speaking Mandarin with bits of metal stuck to your face. Standing up and moving to the next chair was accompanied by the sound of knees going off like gunshots. Suddenly I was second in line. It wouldn’t have been my first time to cut and run at the last minute. “Next!” Damn. Too late. 

A nurse with eyes that begged me not to make conversation stuck a needle in my arm and told me to hang around for 15 minutes. It’s possible there is an old codger still sitting there staring at that broken clock. The reason for waiting is presumably to see if the vaccine makes your head explode or your genitalia fall off. I got bored after thirty seconds and drove home.

Later, I googled, “What is in the Pfizer vaccine?” This is a classic case of irresponsible drug use. Always find out what you’re taking before you take it.

In case you’re interested, it contains lipids, which are like tiny greasy tadpoles. Generally well-behaved unless provoked. Then there is salt, which I love, and sugar which “helps the molecules maintain their shape”. More than it does for my shape. Then comes the magic bullet. The mRNA. These devilishly cunning infiltrators come bearing a message. From Bill Gates? Probably not. But if it was, it would be him denying ever having been mates with Jeffrey Epstein. Or maybe some advice about signing a prenup before getting married.

Bill Gates heading for Skid Row

I wrote to Bill Gates three or four years ago after he was bumped into second place on the World’s Richest People list. I predicted trouble back then, so it came as no surprise to hear that he and Melinda are divorcing. Bill is currently languishing at number 4 on the rich list. Four! Obviously this was going to happen. Here’s what I wrote back then:

……………………

Dear Bill Gates,

Please accept my heartfelt condolences. The news must have come as a terrible shock and my prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. Nobody deserves to wake up in the morning and discover that their world is crashing down around them before they have even had a chance to dip into a simple breakfast of grilled Coelacanth drizzled with ambrosia.

When I saw the headline, “Gates No Longer World’s Richest Man!” I wept at the injustice of it all. How are the children bearing up? It can’t be easy for them. On Tuesday little Phoebe, Jenny and Rory are the most popular kids in school and by Wednesday they’re wearing oil-stained rags and mugging pre-schoolers for their lunch money.

You once said that when you die you don’t want to leave your children the burden of tremendous wealth and that’s why you would only bequeath them $10 million each. Please let them know that if they ever run short they can call on me any time. What’s mine will always be theirs. And I hope there is no reason to think the reverse doesn’t apply.

Melinda must be taking it hardest of all, what with people coming up to her in the street and saying cruel things like, “Aren’t you married to that loser who is no longer the richest man in the world?”

A word of advice, Bill. Keep her close. Even though money might be tight, buy her shiny baubles and fresh flowers now and again. Not garage flowers. She is nine years younger than you and I expect her eye will begin wandering now that you are on the skids. You don’t want to be fending off packs of salivating divorce lawyers.

But let’s get back to what is really important here – the imposter who has usurped the richly deserved title that you have held for so many years. Jeff Bezos? Who does this interloper think he is? And what the hell is Amazon besides a glorified courier service?

Did you learn nothing from 2008 when Warren Buffet briefly knocked you off your perch? And what the hell kind of name is Buffet, anyway? It’s not even a name – it’s a cheap method of feeding large numbers of people without having to hire waiters.

Also, Buffet made his money by selling ice cream and razorblades to diabetics and manic-depressives. You at least gave us computers. For god’s sake, don’t let him overtake you again. Second place is okay, but if you drop to third it’s all over, my friend.

Quite frankly I’m not surprised you got bumped from the top spot. You make hardly any money at all these days because everything is pirated. Millions of computers get sold each year in China alone and you don’t see a blue cent. A few years ago you spoke at the University of Washington and said, “As long as they are going to steal (software), we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Meth dealers use a similar strategy when targeting primary schools in the Western Cape.

Then again, you’re probably going broke because you resigned from Microsoft four years ago. What were you thinking? Middle-aged white men like you and me need to hang on to our jobs. Actually, I got fired the other day. We’re in the same boat now.

I believe you deleted your Facebook account because nobody wants to be your friend anymore. Screw them, Bill. If they don’t want to know you because you’re down to your last $95 billion, they were never real friends in the first place.

Let me know if you need a loan.

An open letter to Bill Gates

Dear Bill,
Please accept my heartfelt condolences. The news must have come as a terrible shock and my prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. Nobody deserves to wake up in the morning and discover that their world is crashing down around them before they have even had a chance to dip in to a simple breakfast of grilled coelacanth drizzled with ambrosia and lightly coated with flakes of gold.
When I saw the headline, “Gates No Longer World’s Richest Man” I wept at the injustice of it all. How are the children bearing up? It can’t be easy for them. On Monday Phoebe, Jenny and Rory are the most popular kids in school and by Friday, bam, they’re wearing oil-stained rags and mugging pre-schoolers for their lunch money.
You once said that when you die you don’t want to leave your children the burden of tremendous wealth and that’s why you would only bequeath them $10-million each. Please let them know that if they ever run short, and they will, they can call on me any time. What’s mine will always be theirs. And I hope there is no reason to think the reverse doesn’t apply.
Melinda must be taking it hardest of all, what with people coming up to her in the street and saying cruel things like, “Aren’t you married to that loser who is no longer the richest man in the world?”
A word of advice, Bill. Keep her close. Even though money might be tight, buy her shiny baubles and fresh flowers now and again, even if they are from the garage. She is nine years younger than you and I expect her eye will begin wandering now that you are on the skids. The last thing you need is packs of salivating divorce lawyers on your tail.
But let’s get back to what is really important here – the imposter who has usurped your richly-deserved title. Who the hell does this Jeff Bezos interloper think he is? And what the hell kind of name is Bezos, anyway? Did you know that he was born in Mexico? Well, New Mexico. It’s no different to the old Mexico. It just happens to be in America. But only just. So he runs Amazon. Big deal. He’s nothing more than a glorified mailman.
Bezos is worth nearly $94-billion while you’re making hardly any money at all these days because everything is pirated. Millions of computers get sold each year in China alone and you don’t see a blue cent. A few years ago, you spoke at the University of Washington and said, “As long as they are going to steal (software), we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
Methamphetamine dealers use a similar strategy when targeting primary schools in the Western Cape. If it works for them, it should work for you.
I hear that you have deleted your Facebook account because nobody wants to be your friend any more. Screw them, Bill. If they don’t want to know you because you’re down to your last $89-billion, they were never real friends in the first place.
I bet now you’re regretting having retired so young. Do you have a pension? I understand you spend a lot of your free time helping alleviate global poverty. This is admirable when you consider that three billion people around the world live on less than $2 per day. Given that Windows 10 Pro costs $199 (more on the Djibouti black market), it’s no wonder that CNN is always full of pictures of starving people in Africa. They are obviously saving up their food money to buy the new software. You are on the right track, Bill. Forget the Chinese. Get the Africans addicted and you’ll be back on top in no time at all.
I understand that your Foundation has a specific interest in improving the health of people in developing countries. This makes perfect sense. Imagine what a tragedy it would be if everyone kept dying before they could buy the latest upgrade!
You could begin by throwing some cash our way. A lot of South Africans are suffering from high blood pressure, splitting headaches, damaged eyesight, strained wrists and crippling backache. Well, those of us with computers, anyway.
Hope to see you back in pole position soon!
Yours truly,
Ben Trovato