It’s that time of year when boilerplate journalists stare out the window, sigh heavily and begin writing stuff that begins with “It’s that time of year when ….”
Calling them journalists gives them more credit than they’re due, I suppose. They’re content producers. And it can’t even really be called writing. ‘It’s that time of year’ stories are almost always lists or advice. Quite often advice in the form of a list. Any idiot can draw one up. I am nothing if not an idiot, so here’s my contribution.
It’s that time of year when the ravening dogs of capitalism are out of the cages and straining at their leashes. Their eyes are red and wet and their foam-flecked jaws snap and slaver. Soon they will slip their choke chains and, howling and biting at our heels, they will herd us into the malls and shopping centres until panic drives us crazy and we plunge desperately into debt.
The objective of this appalling game of loans is to accumulate as much new stuff as you can while not losing any of the stuff you already have. Cars, handbags, cellphones and occasionally entire families are lost at this time of year.
One of the byproducts of poverty, unemployment, sloppy genes, faulty upbringing and bad drugs is that the closer we get to Jesus’s birthday, the more our personal belongings become irresistible to others.
For some the festivities have already begun. Last week a group of 20 armed shoppers visited a shopping centre in Limpopo, blew up a safe, shot a policeman and left with some cars that weren’t theirs. In some towns people gather around and cheer when the Christmas lights are turned on in the main street. The other day in Vereeniging, onlookers cheered when a Fidelity cash-in-transit van exploded during a heist. I’m not making this up.
Parking lots are filling up fast and you don’t want to find yourself having to park so far away that you need a GPS to find your way back to the mall. I was lucky enough to buy a second-hand car that already had a disabled sticker on the windscreen. I don’t really take advantage of it because shopping takes so much longer when you have to pretend to be crippled. You can’t just get out of your car and limp off, either. To properly pull it off you have to gimp it up spectacularly, which can be exhausting. Also, everyone around you then makes a very obvious point of not looking at you, which is a bit cruel if you enjoy being the centre of attention, as I do.
A lot of malls have parking bays right at the entrance that are reserved for women with babies or toddlers. I don’t know why toddlers. I’ve toddled around plenty of parking lots as an adult and if I can do it I don’t see why a two-year-old can’t. They don’t even drink beer.
As for babies, they’re either pushed in carts or carried in plastic bags. Any mother who can’t portage her own baby shouldn’t have one in the first place. And if she has more than one, she shouldn’t be allowed out in public. The parking is great, though. If you don’t have a baby, try to borrow one for the afternoon. A lot of mothers would be grateful for the break. I think R30 an hour would be a fair rate for a decent baby. If it has teething or colic issues, or is one of those babies that can move objects with its mind, insist on a discount.
I can’t remember if the sign actually says ‘Mothers With Babies’. That would be incredibly sexist if it did. If security says you can’t park there because you’re a man, tell him that you are in fact a woman and threaten to hit him with your borrowed baby. There’s a lot of sensitivity and confusion around gender at the moment. Exploit it.
Don’t think you’re safe once you are in the belly of the beast. Keep your guard up. Trust no-one, especially not members of your family. Children who could barely string a sentence together a week ago suddenly understand the psychology of guilt and coercion.
And remember that even though pickpocketing and purse-snatching is considered quaint and old school in this glamorous age of state capture, the pilferers and purloiners are still out there practising their ancient craft. Fleet of foot and nimble of finger, not for them the tedious complexities of tender rigging and money laundering. Handbags are their thing. This is why women should keep a small explosive device in their bag at all times. If the bag is stolen, they can detonate it with a remote control. This will not only teach the thief a valuable lesson but will also help thin out the crowds in the mall.
Apparently the big thing this year is not to go to the mall at all but instead to second-hand shops. Peter Forshaw, the chief financial officer of Cash Converters, said more people were starting to buy “pre-loved” gifts. This makes sense. There are a lot more pre-loved people out there than ever before.
The only thing I want for Christmas is for people to shut the fuck up about bitcoin. Stop telling me to get in now. Stop trying to explain the mining process. You got nine percent for maths and your mother was still helping you with your jersey at sixteen. Maybe that was me. The point is that you sell bathroom supplies, believe that women who have abortions are going to hell and that the earth is six thousand years old. When it comes to advice of any kind, I’d sooner trust a Nigerian prince.