“Time trial league starts on Tuesday and we haven’t marked the route yet!” I lamented to Francis. We must have been in the Wimpy where bad things happen last year sometime when we decided that we need to re-mark all the RAC time trial and, mind you, club run routes. “We” were Francis, Michelle, EP and myself. “We” are morons!
“Saturday afternoon sounds good to me. Will you be up to it after a marathon?” I asked Francis (guess whose the biggest moron of “We”!), knowing that this weekend would be our last opportunity to mark the route and knowing that EP and I had planned a very relaxing, do nothing Sunday. Francis liaised with the Chairman of RAC, Dick, and I agreed to fetch the paint from him on Saturday morning while Francis was running her marathon in Sasolburg. (Read about my own Sasolburg marathon a few years ago here). Time trail league is a series of 5km time trials around Joburg. Something else Francis and Staci started which is going to attract thousands of runners like their Freedom Runs for Freedom Day. The time trials in Time Trial League (TTL) get rated, formally or informally, by those that run it, on various criteria. The one criterion that RAC does not do well at is the markings on the route. The patriotic RAC member in me could not allow us to be marked down on something I could clearly do something about, so I was adamant that this route would be marked, perfectly, before TTL started this year. Which is how EP and I found ourselves at Dick’s house on Saturday, fetching paint. Dick and I had both forgotten about Francis’ arrangement and so it was late in the day when I arrived. Dick pottered around his very well-stocked garage looking for paint and brushes and solvents we could use for the job. In hindsight, the most valuable thing he could have given us was a bloody box to put all that shit in!
Into the back of EP’s work bakkie (truck) went:
1 x 5 litre unopened yellow enamel paint
1 x 1 litre previously opened yellow enamel paint
1 x 1 litre previously opened black paint
2 x small unused paint brushes
1 x large paint brush for what I initially thought Dick said was to cover up my boobies. Turns out the big brush was to cover up my painting booboos. I blushed momentarily until I realised that it was just my middle-aged deafness which had misinterpreted Dick’s well-meaning comment.
1 x leftover of mineral turpentine in a 750ml bottle
1 x 5 litre bottle of mineral turpentine
EP and I then headed home to drop off dogs that we had with us and then back to the club to start painting the road. Francis met us there and we headed out onto the road in the bakkie to start painting. The first task was to stir up the ancient little tin of yellow enamel paint. That took me half an hour. That stuff would just not mix up. EP tried to make me give up several times, but I’m an asshole and I did it right. With the yellow enamel paint all smooth and perfect, we began. Oh, did I mention that this yellow enamel paint was labelled high sheen, road, enamel paint. Yes. Well that’s what we had.
We started off well, argued a few times about shape, size, location, placement, direction, angle and meaning of arrows and got to the 3.5km mark after 3 fucking hours and darkness descending on us. My 3 hours of squats had my knees shrieking in agony and my almost lying on my side to paint the last mark. EP, as always, was getting hangry and Francis had run a full standard marathon in the morning, so we thought it best to call it a day. We agreed that EP would take the paint in her WORK bakkie and, after club run on Sunday morning, we’d quickly finish up. We were all exhausted. When we got to EP’s house, we decided to just leave the paint stuff in the back of the bakkie and we’d use it in the morning. I would meet EP at the club at 7am for a quick run and then we’d do the remaining markings. Exhausted, I went home, fed my dogs and climbed into bed, knowing I had done a good deed for the club I’m so passionate about and I’d have a nice run in the morning.
On Sunday, i got up, looking forward to a run, a quick act of service and a relaxing Sunday with my EP. At RAC, I met some friends who I said we could join at the start of our run. EP arrived in the bakkie and then seemed to be taking forever to get to me. EP is known to dilly dally a bit. So I wandered over to the bakkie and a thunder cloud was hanging over EP’s face. “Hello love,” I smiled tentatively. “The paint has spilled in the back of the bakkie.” I looked at what EP was pointing at. The thunder cloud grew in size and positioned itself over my head. The two of us stood staring at the 5 litre (now open) tin of yellow paint lying on its side at the far end of the bakkie and the wave of yellow enamel paint spread across the rubberized coating and the rubber mat on top, unable to do anything intelligent. “You get the paint, I’ll go find us a box,” said one of us eventually. The next bit is a blur. I know we went and scouted the surrounds of the club for boxes and newspapers and the like. I know we moved the bakkie onto grass and I know we channelled a lot of the paint into a box and put it back into the tin. We were exhausted. We also knew this was not our car and so something had to be done and quickly.
First thing we did was to go buy coffee because neither of us could face this task without coffee. We almost cried when someone commented on our yellow hands in the coffee shop. We decided we’d go buy a broom, a lot of turpentine and some cloths. All of that cost us R700, which was nothing compared to the investment of time we were about to make. I went back to my house with everything and EP was going to meet me there after opening the house for the dogs. EP had one procrastinaty, petulant moment which I nipped in the bud with a “You can’t go see the puppy because this thing needs to be cleaned off before it all dries.” I could hear EP sigh angrily. We were both moving underneath the thunder cloud still, but I was into action. EP was still in avoidance.
“I have a plan!” I announced triumphantly to EP when the bakkie pulled into my driveway. Really, I had a semblance of a plan which seemed like it would work perfectly and we’d be out of there within an hour with a sparkling clean bakkie. But i had to sound positive and enthusiastic to the now totally deflated EP. The plan was thus:
Park the bakkie on an incline (I have that in my garden, luckily) Take the newly purchased broom. Pour turpentine at the top of the mess and let it run down towards the broom and then sweep the turpentine up against the stream until all the paint had dissolved in the turpentine. Sweep out the stream onto the grass. Then take all the cloths we bought and lay them over the remainder of the mess and soak them in turpentine. Let them soak over the paint and then magically wipe up the dissolved paint! E voila! Have you ever seen this meme?
That’s kind of how the plan went. As we started pouring the turpentine and brushing it, so the yellow started to spread like uncontrollable mercury, until eventually, the entire back of the bakkie was yellow. And we were yellow. Everything was full of this fucking yellow enamel paint. We took the cloths and started cleaning the mess. I felt hopeful. I knew that the size of the mess seemed to have increased, but i knew we were making progress. I’m not entirely sure how I knew that. The evidence before us would have indicated something else. But I’m an eternal optimist and I knew we were doing the right things, so only good things could happen. EP was less optimistic and the temperature in the back of the bakkie was both sweltering and icy. What an absolutely unpleasant experience this was. In hindsight, we should have taken photos, but i think we were both too angry to imagine we would ever see a funny side to this debacle. At one point we were all yellow enamel painted out and EP announced that a break would be taken. All we did in the break was move our cleaning effort into the house to try and clean our respective running watches which were by now well yellowed. A few deep breaths and a commitment to action and we were out at the bakkie again, cleaning with a renewed desire to end this misery. Both of us silently contemplated all the individual choices which had brought us to this point in our lives and how we could have prevented being here. I joked, when we were close to being finished, that I was losing my will to live. Just like our running, I was nearing the end and ready to give up, EP was nearing the end and had found a new enthusiasm to finish! That’s pretty funny actually. Running and our baggage in running is really just a reflection of who we are in the real world.
We cleaned the rest off with a high pressure washer and went over it all once more with some turpentine, cleaning out the tiny holes and crevices which are created by a rubberized surface. The high pressure spray had started to peel off the numbers from the number plate so we stopped that immediately. All in all, the cleaning took us 5 fucking hours. We finished at about 2pm, exhausted, dirty, smelly, sticky, yellow and furious at the wasted day of rest. I was happy, though. EP and I had really tested the maturity of our relationship. We hadn’t had a single angry or blaming or criticizing word, which is not like either of us. We had weathered this storm together with love and determination and a shared responsibility for the cause and for the resolution of the problem. We still hadn’t finished marking the route, but that was not going to happen on that day. Francis, who had not been party to this disaster, was still keen to finish. When I told her what had happened, she laughed, skipping through all the misery, to the part where we all find this very funny. She realised, however, that yellow paint was not going to be part of the rest of the day, except for our scrubbing and turpentining ourselves to flakiness. We looked liverish. There are little dust spots of yellow all over the place today.
By the start of TTL tomorrow, the route will be marked perfectly, trust me. Just don’t run on the actual arrows because you might slip on the wet paint!
You know how I always try to be philosophical about stuff. But I don’t really have much to learn from this experience. I suppose we learned a few things.
- EP is a scientist. For scientists, especially microbiologists, most problems can be solved with bleach. It was a really new experience for EP dealing with enamel paint. Lol.
- I was amazed at the sheer volume of mess that can be created with just a litre or two of paint.
- Enamel paint is fucking horrible stuff.
- Yellow is a fucking horrible colour.
- Rubberising the back of a bakkie could be a stupid decision, depending on your luck.
- Always use a box.
At the moment, in the back of my sedan is a box with:
1 x almost finished 1 litre of high sheen, yellow enamel road paint
1 x half full 5 litre of high sheen yellow enamel road paint
1 x 1 litre previously opened black paint
2 x well used small paint brushes
1 x big boobie brush
2 x 5 litre bottles mineral turpentine (I was surprised by how far the turpentine went)
A lot of yellow stuff.
I’ll love seeing you at the first TTL fixture at RAC at 5.45 tomorrow and, if you come see me afterwards, I’ll show you my yellow fingernails. Let us know what you think of the road markings.
Yours in the spirit of turpentine fumes.