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Op-eds

In Plett, villa mix-up becomes mewling brawl

  • Howard Feldman 2018
As a child, December holidays meant Muizenberg. As an adult, we seemed to spend the time on the Atlantic Seaboard. And then this year, for the first time, we decided to give Plettenberg Bay a bash. Spoiler alert: we loved it, even though it started off a little shaky.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Jan 17, 2019

Here’s why: we had hired unit 12 at a complex that we had never been to. The arrangement was for us to collect the keys from a box on the main road in Plett, and then go to the unit. The keys were waiting as planned, and we found the place with relative ease. So far so good. We drove around for a short while, looked for, and found unit 12, which we knew was a second-floor unit. As I was about to put the key in the lock, the door was opened by the cleaner who was preparing the apartment for the new tenants. We went inside. Didn’t love the place (especially since it looked nothing like the photos we had seen), but decided we would be adults and make the best of it.

After lugging everything upstairs and unpacking, we decided to go shopping. When I tried to lock the apartment, I found that the keys didn’t work, so I took the ones that were in the door and off we went to do what we needed to. I was a little perturbed by the key situation, so checked my confirmation to make sure it was indeed unit 12 that we had booked.

Confirmed. No issue.

Two hours later, the fridge was packed, the meat had arrived from Johannesburg, my wife was making dinner, and I was swimming.

We were ready for our holiday in unit 12. And so was another family of 12 from Brakpan.

The dad had more tattoos than David Beckham (that’s where the similarity ended), and the mom looked like she wasn’t on her first brandy and Coke (not even her second). An array of strange looking others, who most likely lived with them in their mobile home, were also present, and they seemed more interested in a fight than they were in having a holiday. I assumed that they hadn’t beaten up anyone in the 11 hours it took to get from their container on the East Rand, and were itching to get their eye back in.

Their estate agent, although based in Plett, must have also hailed from the Germiston area (perhaps Wadeville) and might even have been related to them. Her ambition quite clearly seemed to be to escalate the situation until everyone slaughtered everyone else, and she could relet the apartment.

When I checked the envelope with the non-working key, it became clear that we were in the wrong flat. We were meant to be in the “Villas” and this was the “Mews”. It was in the same complex, the units were both upstairs, and had the same number of rooms.

Stupid system.

“Ah,” I said apologetically, hoping that everyone would see the humour. I was still dripping wet from the pool, and trying to process how this had all happened. “Give us an hour. Let us pack up, and we will be out of your way.” Turns out that that suggestion was hardly what Mr Boksburg was looking for. “You have 30 minutes!” he screamed, fingers jabbing, and his face very close to mine. I was triggered. “The hell I do!” I screamed back. “We will take as long as we want. You moron! Get out of here before I call the police!”

I was very brave for a moment, but quickly messaged a friend to come and be my backstop. He is a doctor, so I knew that if he couldn’t help in the altercation, at least he could resuscitate me. I have never been in a physical fight in my life, and there was little chance of me surviving an altercation with this team.

With that, the Springs family exited. I assumed they went to find a nearby bar, but instead they sat downstairs on top of their trailer, and watched our frantic and now disorganised move.

It was terrible. The fridge had been stocked. Cupboards were neatly packed. Shopping done. And now we had to vacate. Under pressure. Black dustbin bags were filled but then split as we dragged them down the stairs, tomatoes and eggs rolled on the pavement.

The whole experience was awful. It was always going to be unpleasant and frustrating. We had made a mistake, and we needed to rectify it. But it didn’t need to be as confrontational as it was. It was ugly and aggressive, and there would have been the same result if the container family and their agent had behaved with a little compassion.

I don’t know if, given the circumstances, I would have been more patient that they were. But I do know that from now on, should I find myself in that situation, I will try.

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