Sharing the ups and downs of street life

Kathryn Kimberley

SOME car guards have been around for years and Port Elizabeth motorists know them by name, while others have made an impact in just a short time.

You may recognise Faans Gors from the Walmer post office. He has been stationed there for the past nine years.

Every day he makes his way from Walmer township, where he lives, to the post office on the corner of 8th Avenue and Water Road – in his wheelchair.

Gors, 45, lost the use of his legs due to illness almost two decades ago. He said he loved his shady spot under the trees and regulars greeted him by name.

“I decided it was worth it to rather come all the way to the post office every morning instead of staying in the location,” he said.

On Tuesday, he celebrated his birthday and said many motorists showered him with gifts.

Some days he makes just a couple of rand, but on the odd occasion, he said motorists gave him clothes and food.

Meanwhile, Louis de Jager, car guard at the Phoenix Hotel in Central, lost his life savings in a failed business venture in 2007. Ever since then he has battled to make ends meet.

De Jager, 50, is employed by the hotel and gets paid R12 an hour, plus tips.

He also gets a plate of food after every shift.

“I get quite a lot of tips, especially from the regulars who know me,” he said.

What sets De Jager apart from his co-workers is that he goes the extra mile when meeting and greeting patrons.

“Once they have parked outside the hotel, they become my responsibility until they leave again,” he said.

“I make sure to open and close car doors for the ladies and if it is raining, I walk them to the entrance with an umbrella.

“I have learnt that the better you treat people, the better they tip.”

However, he said there were also highs and lows to working as a car guard.

“I once tried to open the car door for a woman who shouted at me, which was hurtful. But I know that Central is a dangerous place so I try to look after patrons and their belongings as best I can.”

De Jager said he could still remember the days when he shrugged off car guards. He said he had learnt that everyone has a story.

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