I am not oblivious to the fact that legitimate, decent employment is difficult to come by in South Africa. The main reason in my opinion? Illiteracy. People simply cannot read and write even in their mother tongues. Some opt to commit crime. Others will get by on a stall somewhere busy. Some will venture out to their nearest traffic light intersection to make the best of our free-flowing peak hour traffic.
‘Car Guardian’ Beggars
There is this South African perception that you can’t expect to park your car in parking lot, or busy street, and expect to find it there when return back to it – even if it would take all of 5 minutes for you to pop in and out of a building. Car guards approaching me at the point of parking, or sometimes departure, grates my moobs (male boobs) to the nth degree. Normally I’d spot the open parking spot anyway, but because he swings his arms for my Boeing A380 aircraft it’s going to cost me. It’s also likely that if criminals want to take my car for a spin – the car guards would conveniently not see anything now would be anywhere to find on my return to the pleasant surprise of me missing an entire vehicle 🙂
How about when some idiot gives your car a kiss with their bumper? Of course they saw him, but didn’t think to take down the vehicle registration of the said idiot. They also don’t care to have a “15min free parking” clause – Savages! All you ever seem to hear is: “I’ll keep my eye on it, mlungu!” Where mlungu is slang for ‘white person’ even when you’re chocolate-brown like me. To make things worse – so many of the cars we drive nowadays have PDC (parking distance control) in the front and back. Yes – they do not guarantee the utmost prevention of bumping a curb, but now the car is beeping out of control because Mister Car Guardian is standing next to a sensor! Kill me now!
‘Run of the Mill’ Beggars
Do you think traffic light beggars realize how many other traffic lights and beggars there are in Johannesburg? I for one think not. Now I may be sounding like I don’t have a gram of empathy for homeless/struggling people, but I do. I just don’t have money, drinks, food nor jobs to give 99.99% of them. Even then – sometimes they only care about ‘the money’, and not so much for your drinks, food nor jobs because them being there reaching into the deepest ventricle of your mind’s heart to get some cash out of you is the only objective.
Blind beggars, the disabled, seemingly single mothers with their young, the white lads who stand there without moving an inch, the lads on their knees in peak hour winter traffic, the youth forcefully washing your windscreen, the chaps trying to collect every bit of trash out of your car for some change and of course the lads with the incredibly animated (and dramatic) walks. I feel out of all of these that the mothers who use their toddlers to manipulate you out of money break my heart the most, man. I’m still on the fence about soon-to-be-married bachelors being at these already clogged up intersections. What if this is an introduction to being a beggar later in life? No man. The choreographed dancing lads – oh I cannot forget these! It just seems as though the poor procreate the most. 😦
Anyway – I can’t just complain about the entertainer lot. We really need reasonable, entry-level jobs for most. Ones with reasonable entry requirements. I keep thinking that if public transport was better, cheaper and ran later we could see shopping centers (where money seems to go die) hiring nearly double their numbers because of shift systems that would need to be in place. Not all in the stores, but some being cleaners and so forth. Uniform providing jobs that people can make a living off. Only if beggars don’t make a good 8 to R10 000 or more per month at these traffic lights, of course. I wouldn’t be too surprised. A part of me sniffs massive syndicates being behind some begging groups to be quite honest…
‘Traffic Light Small Business’ Vendors
These are the lads I actually tolerate, but to an extent. They sell charger cables, super glue, thumb drives, sunglasses, safari hats, children’s toys, wall clocks, DVDs of on-circuit movies, cool drinks, and my most preferred – fruits and vegetables. Fairly inexpensive and biodegradable should you want not feel like having them. Do you want to know the one trick I use especially if you struggle to say no like I do? Here’s what to say: “I already have a few of those in the house. Thanks!” Thing is that sometimes, when you have shown how you already have what they’re offering, they will still ask for some ‘change’. They might even offer you some of their merchandise for ‘free’. Of course you’ll give it back, but not without offering some silver. This leaves me depleted. It all feels like a scam.
Don’t despair! ‘Having’ everything on offer will have you escaping most street vendors, but regarding the ‘rest’ of the beggars – you’re on your own, mlungu!