Return to Snor City

I don’t care if the jacarandas are foreign/alien* invaders.

Johannesburg is really unbelievably attractive this time of the year as the purple swathes decorate its mostly humdrum architecture. (No Katie, I am not talking about your excellent work, of course.) I have no idea why Pretoria is called Jacaranda City. I went there today and I don’t find its invaders nearly as impressive as ours. This may be because the home of government is much flatter than Joeys, and lacks our undulating vistas – so easily sexed up with a bit of spring.

(My relationship is going very well thank you.)

In addition to what must be a fraudulent claim of having the lion’s share of the fragrant, trumpet-shaped blooms of the jacaranda mimosifolia, Pretoria is a bitch when it comes to parking. Although one can usually find a gloomy parking tower not too far from wherever one has to be, an open spot right in front of one’s destination is so unusual one has to take it. Which I did. The flailing arms of the car guard did not prevent me from parking expertly next to full green dust bins, and when he offered, I said that he could was the car for R30. I was going to be an hour, maybe more.  He pointed to the meter. He offered to fill it. How much for an hour, I asked him?

Ten rand and hour, he said.  I gave him ten rand, even as I said, WHAT? TEN RAND AN HOUR?

Yes, he insisted. I strode over to the meter, digging for coins. The boy galloped along, helplessly. He clearly wished I’d rather not proceed quite in the way I was doing. I pressed the button for bay one and slipped R2 into the slot. Thirty minutes credit came up.

Why did you lie me? I asked him. I am sorry, I am sorry, he said, but I was pissed off. I grabbed the R10 note he was still holding. He clenched, I missed. Why did you lie to me? I asked again, and again he apologised. I took my ten rand, fuming. He kept on saying how sorry he was. I said that for that money, I could park inside, where it was cool. I was hot and bothered and it was not because of the weather.

I thought of the scene as I drove up the ramp of the gloomy tower. On the one hand, I suppose, the guy was only trying to maximise his income by testing how much his client will pay for something that is really worth very little, but is perceived as valuable at a specific time and in a specific space. There is no crime in that. MWEB, for example, has exactly the same business plan and I am happy to report that very soon I will be able to tell them to take their poxy service provision and shove it. On the other hand I am tired of being perceived as a person who could be taken for an extra buck or ten. Although Zanzibar was paradise, its beach-side and alleyway commerce also followed the economic principle of smoke and mirrors and the merchants were unhappy to discover that I was South African and knew what a kanga was really going for at the House of Wonders.

Is this the price of living in Africa? Is it a white-black thing? Is it a class thing? Does the premium kick at whatever level the potential customer appears to be able to afford? Am I doomed to shop at Woolworths because there, at least, I feel that everybody pays the same?

Anyway. The traffic back was insane, of course, so that did not really improve my mood.

(As a post script:  I suspect my mood is inspired by the fact that I fear I may not finish my research report by February.  Well, I could, I guess, if I keep my head down and keep to the topic. It is tempting to do more, write wider, over-extend. I guess I feel a little overwhelmed. But anyway. That is a story for another day.)


* Does xenophobia PC apply to flora?


One thought on “Return to Snor City

  1. Spear The Almighty 2 November 2010 / 11:29

    You should try buying a carpet in the Middle East. I once negotiated 70% discount and I still felt cheated.

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