As long as I can remember I have associated South Africa with imposed scarcity and Calvinist rules that almost always don't make sense but are kept in place dutifully despite the apparent dysfunction.
When I got to Village Hell University in 2009 it took them about two months to get me a computer and then they sent someone to explain the antiquated piece of sh*t to me.
Somewhere in my first couple of days I got a note to sign up for internet access at an office that stayed close. When I did sign up it was explained to me that faculty were allowed 30mb of internet access a month!
Read that again. Not 30 gigabytes. Oh hell no, 30 megabytes.
"What happens if I go over 30mb of internet activity. Say I checked my emails like 4 times in one month," I said sarcastically.
"You will be charged for anything you use over 30 mb."
"So in fact you will be charging me to do my job then," I replied in angry frustration.
Today at Salary Hell a directive warned us that we cannot use more than the 600 mb of 3G time allotted to each one of us. "If you do you will have to pay for it yourself."
I wrote a nice letter explaining that there is no research without mobility and I was not about to start paying a multimillion dollar organization to do my job.
I also checked and found out that they were paying just a shade less than R300.00 for 600mb online data access while the service provider offers packages for less than half the price and you get 2 gigabytes of data.
I sent an email to the bean counter's desk and the reply came soon.
"You will pay for anything you use over 600 mb. We have looked at cheaper deals but have been told it is only for new customers so we won't be getting those."
Huh? A multimillion dollar institute being f*cked around by a mom and pop store up the street. How does that make any sense?
In South African rationale it does. The customer is never right. The service provider does not provide a service. You owe their asses a living and so it is whether you like it or not.
A fellow colleague pointed out that the new customer protection laws allow for the amending of contracts where there are better options available.
The bean counter responded: "The decision has been taken. Please adhere to policy."
And so it is. And so it will stay. Don't ask just pay.
So when you are out there and someone grabs the last can of beans just as you reach for it and on your way out runs you over thinking you may get to the stoplight first, please be patient.
We a sh*t for brains country.
How else can you explain a bank charging you for an option on your credit card you declined when you got it?
"I do not need a credit facility on my credit card because it is a credit card."
"Yes sir but you may want to pay more than your balances and earn interest on your card. So by splitting your card into a part you carry a balance and a part you don't you can have credit and actually earn interest too," the f*ck at the bank explained to me after I queried the charge they post for this option.
"Just cancel it. I will never use such a stupid option when I can save for real under my mattress." "We can't sir it is a built in charge. You are being charged for the option of having the option." (This is a true story.)
I am working on a grand political theory that describes this piece of contrived post-Frankenstein sh*t we call South Africa. It is modeled on the thinking that we are so f*cked up because we always starving for just about everything in a country where there are just four slices of bread left.
It's gonna be genius. Trust me.
I'm gonna buy a one-way ticket to India soon and write the theory there while sitting in the middle of a major south Delhi intersection.
At the very least the chaos in India is functional and the sliced stuff is not the naan of choice.
Hope you will still have a lot of shopping to do when I get there. I need the quiet and tranquility of packed open bazaars in India ;0)
PS: Sometimes I just hate living here and at other times I hate it even more.