IT’S THAT time of the year again. I had to get a few items at the supermarket on Wednesday and felt my panic levels rise.
I pulled into the supermarket parking area and immediately pulled out of the parking area. With so many cars, I just knew the queues would be snaking down the aisles again, and as I’ve said before, I am not visiting busy stores this festive shopping season if they have individual queues.
I cannot afford to be robbed of my time while simultaneously being wary of being robbed by the bands of patrolling bandits.
Just this week residents were warned to be wary of ‘skelms’ when using ATMs.
“If you observe suspicious persons while approaching the ATM, do not use the machine,” went the warning. “Be alert and vigilant all the time … Always cover your PIN even if you are alone … Never accept or request assistance … Do not withdraw large amounts of cash, and hide your cash after making a withdrawal.”
On and on it went, adding to the already unbearable stress people are enduring these days. I just find it so infuriating that the greater population of a city have to almost be held ransom by small bands of misfits.
You cannot help being a victim of crime. In fact, I got robbed in broad daylight a week ago at a filling station. I called the police, and they asked if I knew who did it.
“Of course I do,” I fumed. “It was pump number six!”
It’s true … When I first bought my car, it cost me just over R500 to fill the tank from empty. A week ago it cost me just under R1,000. And the sad thing is between the time that I bought my car and last week with the fuel price rising through the stratosphere, nobody’s thought of shortening the length of a kilometre.
So not only do we have to watch out for ATM skelms, but there are bag-snatchers, pickpockets, as well as online scams, and now rising prices are also making us feel as if we are being robbed. It can become pretty discouraging.
But look on the bright side, not all skelms are sharp, clever and calculating.
I heard about a case in South Carolina in the US, where a man walked into a local police station and dropped a bag of cocaine on the counter. He informed the desk sergeant that it was substandard cut, and asked that the person who sold it to him be arrested immediately. I wonder where he spent the next 7-10 years.
Then at an airport in England, a German “tourist”, supposedly on a golf holiday, showed up at customs with his golf bag. While making idle chatter about golf, the customs official realised that the tourist does not know much about golf, in fact he didn’t even know what a “handicap” was.
The customs official, feigning both ignorance and genuine interest, asked the tourist to demonstrate his swing, which he did – holding the club backward! A substantial amount of narcotics was found in the golf bag.
Meanwhile, in Germany, a woman found that the over-the-counter products were no longer doing the job for her. So, having heard about the beauty regime of queen Cleopatra, she decided that she would bathe in the milk of a camel.
She then actually managed to steal a camel from the local zoo – just imagine that operation – and transported it back to her house … where she realised that the camel’s name was Otto.
Oh, but the Americans are not done. A Texas man convicted of robbery worked out a deal to pay $9,600 in damages rather than serve a prison sentence.
For payment, he provided the court with a cheque – it turned out to be a forged cheque and he got to enjoy prison food for 10 years.
So look on the bright side, the bad guys don’t always get away. However, that is no reason to relax your vigilance. There are those who are roaming around keen to separate you from your hard-earned cash. Be careful.
But in saying that, let us also be careful not to turn a blind eye to those who are genuinely in need, those who are desperate for a handout, people who actually have nothing. I get the impression that when we tell them that we have ‘nothing’ to share, they might not understand how that works.
Every person would do well to remember that money – no matter how much you have or how much you steal – can’t buy happiness … but poverty can’t buy anything!