Every year on the 26th of March, Inge is late for work. Why? Because she is at the Engen Garage at Nortchliff Corner wishing Piet, the deaf petrol attendant a happy birthday.
This tradition started two years ago when she was accidentaly a part of an impromptu birthday party for Piet.
“Piet is a deaf petrol attendant working at the Engen garage on Northcliff Corner. I always goes there to fill up, and Piet always ends up being my petrol attendant.”
He is deaf and although she doesn’t speak sign language, they commnicate by writing on the garage slips.
On 26 March she rolled down her window and was about to write “R200… 93 please” on the slip because that’s how Piet takes the petrol orders but this time, she saw that he had written “BIRTHDAY” on the slip.
She tried to to wish him a happy birthday using her own made-up sign language but in Inge’s own words “It sucked”. And they both laughed.
Then as Piet was filling her tank, she broke out in a cold sweat realising that she didn’t have any loose change on her.
“How was I going to give Piet a lekker birthday tip?”
She paid with her card and then just drove off. Or at least that’s what Piet thought.
Inge actually parked next to the shop to buy him some sweets, something that she couldn’t explain to Piet because she didn’t know how. When she came out looking for Piet he was gone, so she asked the group of other petrol attendants, who were standing around outside a little office, where Piet was?
They moved aside and inside the office where Piet was sitting with a small Pick & Pay cake on his lap.
Her timing was just right as everyone started singing a very Happy Birthday song (making up the sign language as they went along).
Since that day, Inge always pops by on the 26th of March to wish him a very happy birthday (even though she chooses to go to the petrol station on a weekly basis to refuel there because of Piet).
We’ll be posting pics of this year’s celebration when they happen, Inge just wanted everybody to know how amazing that garage is for giving Piet a chance.
It’s the only garage she know of that employs a person with disabilities & she will continue to support them for it.