Your car’s air-conditioner has packed up in backed up traffic and a taxi has just cut you off.
There are a hundred reasons to stress.
As you stop at a traffic light a homeless beggar asks for money and another wants to wash your windscreen.
Behind them you see a grey-haired man with two golden retrievers, each holding a flag with the words “Smile more” and “Don’t worry, be happy”.
It dawns on you that there are a thousand reasons to smile.
The unexpected sight of seeing two dogs carrying flags around, and a man who only asks of you to smile makes your day.
If “making someone’s day” was a postgraduate subject then Frits Jan Buter (67) would be a professor at the University of Goodwill.
Introducing him seems almost pointless, since everyone either knows him or knows of him.
This hero from Table View has been on eTV, kykNET and even an advertisement for the Johannesburg municipality, mostly for his unselfish desire to make strangers smile.
Sometimes all that is needed to banish the blues is to see his dogs sitting next to the road, with flags flapping in the wind.
For the slightly more despondent motorists, Frits has to ask his eight-year-old dog Zoei to pick up garbage from the sidewalk and drop it into a dustbin.
That’s right – his dog actually picks it up and disposes of it in a dustbin!
If this astounding feat doesn’t make you smile then it means you are completely crestfallen.
That’s when Frits bring out the big guns.
He looks at his dog and says: “OK Zoei! What is one and one?”
Zoey barks twice.
“What is two and one?”
Zoey barks three times.
Can you ignore a mathematically inclined dog who keeps the street clean while urging you to be cheerful?
TygerBurger interviewed Frits last week to hear why he stands next to the road at least three times a week.
It turns out the adjective to describe his reason hasn’t been invented yet.
For now the hyphenated description “selfish-unselfish” will have to do.
“I do it because it makes me happy to make other people happy,” he says.
“Zoei and the 2-year-old Coco can also feel when others are happy, which they enjoy tremendously!”
Frits first came up with the idea when he was walking next to the road and saw people frowning and others hitting their steering wheels in frustration at the traffic.
“When they saw my dogs, the mood of a few just lifted, so I thought to use this reaction to create some optimism. We read so many negative things, so there is certainly a need.” One act of friendliness leads to another, says the bringer of smiles.
“Next time you see a taxi driver, smile and wave at him and see how his face lights up,” he continues. Frits had about 10 flags made with messages such as “Be wary of our cyclists” and “Prevent road rage”.
He even has one reading “Love South Africa and love the Stormers”!
“I have received so many messages from people who have told me we made their day. This is all the motivation I need,” concludes Frits cheerfully. Coco isn’t quite as obedient as Zoei, but neither will ever run off or drop a flag. After trudging the roads three to four times a week and sowing the seeds of benevolence, Frits, Zoei and Coco return to their home, lean on the balcony and appreciate the beauty of Table Mountain.
For these heroes it is all in a good day’s work. They made a difference.