Goodpastures Syndrome

Too close for comfort - a near-fatal encounter, told by the patient

4. A fresh start in Port Elizabeth Traffic Department

(This is a true account of my experience with Goodpastures Syndrome, but a few people’s names have been changed, indicated by *.  My aim in writing this is threefold; first, that victims and families of people suffering from Goodpastures Syndrome can have some knowledge of what to expect in a serious event but also to show that Goodpastures is survivable, even in a case like mine; second, it would do no harm for physicians treating Goodpastures Syndrome or other devastating diseases, not to mention GP’s prescribing medication to patients, to read this as there are lessons here for some of them; lastly I am trying to exorcise the psychological after-effects of my experience with Goodpastures Syndrome).

I moved to my new home in the middle of April which gave me a fortnight to settle into the house, get myself kitted up with uniform and acquaint myself further with the city. I met my immediate neighbours, the one an Air Force policeman and the other a plumber, also with the municipality.

Starting work on the 1st of May was extremely interesting. The Port Elizabeth Traffic Department was very much bigger than that of Pietermaritzburg. Being a much larger city you would expect the patrol staff to reflect this disparity but, additionally, Port Elizabeth conducted vehicle registration, vehicle testing, drivers’ licensing (functions which in Natal had been taken over by the Province due to venality at local level) and had its own traffic signs workshop.

Port Elizabeth Traffic patrol car at departmentIt rapidly became clear to me that I had jumped out of the fire into the cream, if I can put it like that. The department was simply so effective. The personnel were a mixture of mainly white and coloured, totally integrated and both standards and morale were high.

A small example of the difference in operational effectiveness between the former department and the new was offered by the painting of road markings. In Pietermaritzburg six or seven black painters under the personal supervision of a Superintendent would be crammed into the back of a bakkie (pick-up truck) with a trailer. At the intersection to be re-painted, they would pile out and, bent double, would paint the markings with hand brushes – a laborious and slow process. In Port Elizabeth there were four teams of two painters, each team with a kombi. The tin of paint being used was carried in a cradle which obviated the need to bend down to pick it up, and the painting was done with a roller on a pole with the result that two men could paint an intersection in less than half the time the mob from Pietermaritzburg took.

As long ago as my time in Durban, 1978-1979, people had spoken almost with awe that “in Port Elizabeth motorists stop for pedestrian crossings”. This proved indeed to be the case due to a combination of judicious enforcement and a generally more considerate attitude among drivers.

Another major difference was that all the morning and afternoon peak period point duty was performed by the traffic wardens, and very well too. This freed up traffic officers to patrol during these peak periods which is when they are naturally the most visible to the most drivers.

1990 was also a period of mass action by the A.N.C. with regular marches which required delicate handling to minimise disruption to traffic flow. From time to time these marches would come to a standstill so the participants could “toy-toy”. (Toy-toying consists of hopping up and down on one leg, releasing great clouds of body odour into the long-suffering atmosphere).

Towards the end of May I began to develop a cough. By the 2nd of June, during one of these marches, I was doubled up with coughing and finding it very difficult to communicate. Mr Portelli and Mr Stott, seeing my condition, instructed me to report sick. I could hardly argue from any point of view but I felt very guilty going sick after just one month’s work in my new job.



A fresh start in the Port Elizabeth Trafiic Department             copyright 2011 Richard Binstead Goodpasture's Syndrome

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