“I wanna be a billionaire, so freaking bad. Buy all of the things I never had. Wanna be on the cover of FORBES magazine, standing next to Oprah and the Queen” – Me. I wrote this. Or maybe Vannie Kaap wrote it. You never know anymore these days.
Okay, Fine. That title was Click-bait.
Just like Black Friday.
Stay home, bapes.
This is merely an update of the last week in my life, and the saltiness I feel for not being able to indulge in unnecessary retail therapy.
The first part of this essay was written pre-payday. Then, I was robbed, and completely forgot that I had even started to blog. So, there may be a time lapse, but I am still poor. That hasn’t change. I actually own less items than I did before I wrote this.
I know I don’t have to tell any of you that life is fucking expensive. I have made the royal fuck up of having three children, buying a house and using a private car. This, in itself keeps me on the edge of bankruptcy each month, with the journey from the 20th to the 27th being a knuipknuipkruipkruip that consists of two minute noodles, switching off unnecessary lights and making lang sous. And both I and my husband have average salaries. Above average, perhaps – If I consider that most South Africans are expected to survive on minimum wage (currently at R3500pm).
I sit at my desk now, in awe of the R627 I have left for the month. I can buy both petrol and send the kids to school unwashed and empty handed. Or, I can buy food, and we can sit in the dark, or I can buy electricity and we can remain home till the end of December. The possibilities are endless if you put your mind to it. Every budgeting article I have read tells me to save. I don’t think they realise that you can’t put fokkol into a bank account and watch it grow.
I mean, I did try looking for extra freelance work earlier this year, just to put my toe back in the ocean. I applied at several local papers, but recently saw some journalists say on a private thread that my CV is gathering dust in their inboxes, so I guess I have sabotaged myself in that regard. I’ll stick to writing carefully worded, hilarious Facebook posts and the leave the real journalism to the experts; you know, the people who brought you gems like “I want my gay husband back” and “Paxton takes a young girl to spur”.
I digress, the economy has been unkind to me and many of my friends.
Fine, I am exaggerating slightly, but the truth is I hate that we don’t speak about money. As a community, as a nation there is a taboo cap on the subject. How am I supposed to be a functioning adult when I wasn’t taught to budget? I have no idea what my peers are earning, and if I am at the top or bottom of that scale. Am I doing well? Am I failing?
I have mentioned before that I grew up fairly well off. My family had a double story in a seaside village. We never went hungry. We went on holidays and made krief curry. I wasn’t aware of the hardships of other people. I thought everyone was of the same privilege for the longest time. I never considered that the money came from somewhere. I thought we just had money. “When you grow up the bank gives you money”. My kids say this bullshit line nowadays, and it tears into my soul, especially when my father giggles at it. Grand-kids are a sweet revenge that most parents wait for. But this is also not the point of this random update.
Last week, I was readying myself to finally participate in the Black Friday Madness that ensues at the end of each November. I have never gone before. Most times I was pregnant, or had to work at the office, or didn’t have a cent to my name (or all three at the same time)- but this year I was ready to go moer kinnes in Toys r Us, in search of a Fortnite Royale something-or-other and the same R1500 fucking kitchen Rose wants every year, just in a different colour, and made from a kakker type of plastic.
We aren’t telling Scarlett it’s Christmas for two more years.
On Wednesday, I went about my day with my imminent flight and weekend away to PE, at the Jakes Gerwel Foundation’s Paulet House in the back of my head.
My routine is the same, Monday to Friday. I wake up at 5am. Pray. Get everyone done. Drop Riyaahd at his lift, drop Jonah at School and take the girls to crèche – go home and hang upside down completely frozen till it is time to reanimate and serve my family again. Everyday. Like Groundhogs Day. On Wednesday, however, I was scheduled to pick up a parcel in Grassy Park. I decided on a whim to drop the girls first, and then took Sidney to school – planning to drive back via GP and of course, take Prince George Drive. I picked up the parcel and the woman who handed it to me did so through the passenger-side window. I neglected to roll my window back up, and merrily made my way to Muizenberg – passing Lavender Hill on my left.
And this is when my day, and my life changed.
It isn’t as dramatic as it sounds. But let me explain.
The robots at the foot of Lavender Hill, that connects Prince George Drive and Military Road was out of order. (I later learned that the criminals from the surrounding areas – a syndicate, apparently – keep the lights broken, to ensure a stop and go, four way stop situation.)
I approached the light, unperturbed by the delay. I had nowhere to be, and I felt secure with all the other drivers and people around me. It was 8.30am, I had no reason to be overly cautious. Or do I naively thought.
A tall, thin coloured man, probably in his late 20s stood by my window. He rested his forehead against the top of the car door, which in itself was a strange thing to do. It made me uneasy, even before I noticed that I had noticed. I feel it important to say that I am not fearful of coloured men. I know that many people are. They are my brothers, my cousins, my friends. Even the ones with the undesired aesthetic that makes other people roll up their windows and clutch their purses.
‘Hello lady”, he said.
“Hello” I looked at him. I didn’t want to tell him to get away from my car, though I should have.
“Gimme a lift please man. Just till Muizenberg”.
Something didn’t feel right about how he had approached me in the middle of the intersection. But my mind still hadn’t registered that I was in danger. I didn’t want to offend him with my answer, even though I was uncomfortable, and the one in the right to decline. I quickly tried to think of a respectful excuse, but from my mouth, I heard the truth.
“I’m too scared”.
I fucking said I am too scared. I must have actually, deep down have been too scared. I think of that moment over and over. The vulnerability. The embarrassing truth that I felt scared of someone. That moment, that admission in itself took my power away. He noticed, and relished it.
“Too scared? Too scared?” he ridiculed me. I promise you, his eyes changed. They looked sincerely angry. My entire existence was offending him. I don’t know if he was angry at the fact that I had possessions, or seemed privileged. I am not sure if he was angry that I was a woman. I am not even sure if I wasn’t seeing the effects of Tik or another substance. But, he was immediately energised by my response.
He reached into the car, and proceeded to slither his entire upper body into it. He balanced himself with his one arm on my passenger seat and the other grabbed my phone, my credit card and my Woolies card. I can’t help but picture his feet dangling out the window as he violated my personal space.
And like the passive victim I have learned to be throughout my life… I didn’t hit him, or try to fight for my things. My body shriveled into the corner behind my steering wheel and I screamed. Like when I used to get raped. I just let it happen. I let him finish so that it would be over. I really thought I had grown, I guess not.
Regardless the rest of the experience is in the video I made on that day. But I brought this story up in this blog because I learned another valuable lesson from the experience.
I am able to do with little.
The day after this ordeal, I was set to fly to PE. I had so many plans. It was to be my last trip so I wanted to buy gifts, souvenirs etc. Even the week before, Christmas had me all fucked up and I signed up to all the Black Friday lists, in order to gain early access to the online sales. I downloaded Takealot and Makro apps and I even asked a friend if she would join me at the shops on the day. I was fucking ready to consume the fuck out of the festive season. In the last few months I had renovated my house, which cost way more than I am comfortable to divulge. In the last year and a half, my car has needed repairs each month, ranging between R800 quick fixes, to R3500 worth of taking me for a poes. And amidst the ‘surprise-bitch’ expenses, there was life with three children, and feeding, clothing and maintaining them.
I didn’t have black Friday money to begin with, and I certainly had no business buying 6 shampoos for R200. But the heart wants what it wants.
Regardless, because of the theft, I went to PE with a few rand in my pocket for padkos, and a frozen account that I could only remedy the next Monday. I was jus. But I had a great time. I didn’t have the need to buy all the things, and reinforcements that i had planned to buy. I was fine. Just fine.
When I returned, Sans gifts, I had the pleasure of sorting out my bank accounts, ordering my new cards and blah blah blah. I would still make it for black Friday…. I packed the kids in the car on Monday and dropped hubby at his lift. I made my way to the girls crèche. When I entered the area, I thought to stop at the house shop and buy them a treat before school. Ghost pops and Bubble gums in hand, I got back into the car and once everyone had been snacked up – I swung the key.
Not a tight, chesty sound of the engine. Not a hernhernhern….
I sat and stared out the window for a solid minute, just listening to the children chew.
Hubby was at work. My mommy didn’t answer her phone. And my car wasn’t even showing lights on the dashboard during my attempts to switch it on and pray it into motion.
It eventually started again, but I had to keep the revs up. I managed to drop the girls, drop Jonah at school and still make my way to Westgate mall. I skipped through the aisles in ShopRite, grabbing the necessities for the week. I had regained my confidence again, until it was time to pick everyone up.
On the way home, in the middle of the intersection, turning from spine Road into Merrydale, my car died.
Again, I sat for twenty minutes, watching the other cars full of tech/automobile savvy men drive by. One uncle even shouted at me to move, as if I was standing in the intersection, endangering my family’s life by choice. Just parked in the middle of a main road, playing with my poeshare (and my life).
The car started again, briefly. Just enough for me to creep home, with my hazards on and my gears high, praying loudly for Jesus to rebuke all the red lights, Amen.
And when I arrived at home, my car said its final goodbye.
The mechanic was only able to come through yesterday. He inspected under the hood, and gave me the same look people receive from doctors before they break the news that their loved one had passed. I could feel my imaginary Black Friday money slipping through my fingers.
But as it turns out, the amount I would need to fix my car is equivalent to just buying a new one.
So now, I sit here on Black Thursday as the early bird deals open on all my favourite store sites. And I look longingly at the 4 lemon juices for R30, the half price camping chairs and the two bottles of Russian bear for R300 and I sigh deeply.
I will still be purchasing the vodka, but now instead of it being for a celebratory cheers to Le Good Life, it will be to drown my sorrows. One part Vodka, two parts debt please. With ice.
But the point of this essay/rant/blog is that sometimes i get full on panic attacks about not being able to buy certain things – thing I don’t even need and probably won’t use after the novelty wears off.
I have spent so much of my life worrying about looking unsuccessful and poor, to people who aren’t even watching me. Taking myself out of the center of the universe has really helped me put things into perspective. No one is focused on your failure. If they are so intently focused on you, they cannot be doing very much for themselves.
I make decent, offensively middle class money, and I shudder to think that if I am struggling to make ends meet sometimes, that there are people with far less money and far more responsibilities who must be suffering way, way worse. They are probably worrying about where there next meal is coming from, while I fret about unnecessary bulk toilet paper purchases, in case of an apocalypse or something.
I’ll get to the point. I think a lot of the time we feel the need to participate in things that drain us financially, spiritually etc because we want to be part of the action. we want to be seen. We want to seem as if we are also doing well.
Or sometimes, we want to participate because we were told we should.
I mean, if you have been waiting for Black Friday for YOU and you can get that TV on a discount or get that microwave at half price; dala.
But if you really don’t need five jars of mayonnaise, and haven’t even got storage space for ten Jives – what are you now actually doing spending your January money in November?
So that your extended family can see you also went all out?
They don’t even like you. They think your berk is kak. And sometimes they skinner about how naughty your children are. Let them buy and vriet their own two bags of Quality Street for R150. Or even better, let them buy everything then you and the kids go visit them on Sunday.
Soema take all three of your baby daddies with you.