I parked my car in the parking lot. Easy enough. Walked downstairs and saw two queues facing a wall: One to a window, the other in a zig-zag for the next available automated machine. I joined the zig-zag and eventually found myself standing in front of a big touch-screen with a few slots for cards underneath it. At first glance it seemed like there was way too much going on for such a simple transaction, but I found the ‘Pay by card’ option and went through the process. As my phone beeped with the SMS from the bank to say the money had been taken from my account, and as I eagerly awaited my brand-spanking-new Gautrain card, the touch screen beamed “TRANSACTION FAILED”, and I received nothing. Then the text on the screen changed to “MAINTENANCE IN PROGRESS” and a card slot was pulled from inside the machine to reveal the other side. I called the (out of uniform) helper-lady who was hanging around and asked her to please explain to me why the fuck someone had pulled the card slot thingy from the box while I was busy with a transaction, and she shouted at someone through the hole. Awesome.
So now I’m standing between an automated machine and the teller window, waiting for a card to pop out somewhere. Either one would do, I’m really not fussy.
I was then told to stand in front of the people in the line for the teller and explain my problem. Now, if I was in that line, and some dude jumped in front of me, I’d be pissed. But, I felt it was no fault of my own, and if anyone was gonna make a scene at this very moment, I’d be that guy. The guy who was (now) behind me asked what happened, to which I replied “They fucked up, so now I need a card or my money back.” The (out of uniform) helper lady gave me a look, so I rephrased it to a very sarcastic “I’m sorry, there was a problem with the machine, and she told me to stand here.” Blame-shift: A beautiful thing.
I asked the lady behind the window to just give me a card with my R510 on it and I’d be on my merry way. She said she couldn’t until I filled out a full-page form with all my details, including my bank details. She also said that the money would be returned to my account, and I’d have to pay another R510 to get the loaded card.
What. The. Fuck?
I was running late, and so were the people who were behind in the line that I’ve just joined (and inconvenienced), so I scribbled, purposefully, all my details and had to do the whole buying-a-card transaction again from scratch. By the time I’d reached B9 (the platform where the train would be) I’d missed the train and had to wait a further 18 minutes for the next to arrive. Cellphone reception is also non-existent down there, so don’t think I could get some calls in before I jumped on the train. Also, no benches or vending machines meant no sitting or eating either. Brilliant.
I can guarantee that if I drove to the airport it would have been faster, but more importantly, I would have drummed on my steering wheel while singing along to some of my favourite new tracks and would’ve been cool, calm and very collected by the time I reached the airport. Very much the opposite to how I did feel when I arrived, when I realised I still had to walk across a large part of the airport to get to domestic departures. If I drove, I would’ve had to walk across the bridge joining parking and the terminal. Easy. I have nothing against walking, but if you’re late, it’s a problem. No-one likes to be running through an airport.