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Art of avoiding car guards in cashless economy

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I can’t be the only one who avoids eye contact with car guards. Or who lies to them as I scuttle into a shopping mall, mumbling something like, “I’ll give you when I come out,” knowing that I won’t. Because I don’t carry cash, won’t have loose change, and will wait until he’s assisting someone else or looking the other way before I leopard crawl to my car to avoid him pointing out the obvious.

Pointing out that I’m a stingy and selfish person who can’t spare a few rands for someone who suffers the indignity of spending the day dressed in a reflective vest.

Every now and then, I do it right. I get a whole bunch of R5 coins from the bank to keep in the car so that I don’t have to experience the shame of playing Car Guard Dodge. A game that I’m terrible at. But somehow, in no time at all, the coins seem to evaporate, and within a week or so, I find myself back to bolting from a shop to my car as though I’m being chased by law enforcement.

Functions are no easier. Now not only do we need to remember to buy a gift for Simcha’s Barmitzvah and for my wife to bring her glasses and driver’s license in case I have a drink. We also have to rummage for some cash notes so that we aren’t “tip shamed” when someone passes around the glass in which we plant the money for gratuity.

At many a function have I had to go in search of a sibling or friend to borrow R100 that not only should I have had on my person, but I also know I’ll never return. Separate seating functions, where men and women are seated at different tables, results in double the stress and double the shame.

It’s reached a stage that I prefer to decline invitations rather than deal with the whole tipping issue.

We’re smart people. To my understanding, Jews have already won about 136% of all available Nobel prizes in maths and stuff. We were the people who invented the Oedipus complex, we cured polio, produced Albert Einstein, and Dell computers. We gifted the world with Calvin Klein and Harrison Ford. We can claim Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, and Barbie. We can boast being the creators of the world’s best – or worst – Ponzi schemes thanks to Bernard Madoff, and for those who need a laugh, know that Jerry Seinfeld, Jack Benny, and the Marx Brothers were members of the faith.

And still, with all this talent, no-one has found a way to tip the car guard in a cashless society.

Why do we have to solve it, you might ask? Simply because if we’ve learned anything since the events of 7 October 2023, it’s that if we want something done, we have to do it ourselves. If there’s a problem that needs to be dealt with, we can’t expect any of our former friends to do it. They may be nice people, but they’re unlikely to be found rushing to assist us at our time of need.

If most couldn’t reach out to us when we needed them, if most don’t march for us when others scream for our murder, it might be a little naïve to expect them to find a solution to our discomfort as we dash from Readers Warehouse, book in hand, for a car that we’ve left idling. Because then it’s easier to accelerate the getaway vehicle from a car guard we promised we would tip on the way in.

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