Shopping as entertainment

9 08 2008

I was half way around the very empty supermarket when I realized that the bottle of Scotch that I thought was a bargain was anything but at USD80! It’s always a problem knocking off the zeros; suddenly everything appears much cheaper when it really is not and the outlets know this and move their prices up. I was replacing the bottle when I was approached by a youngster asking if I was going to pay by cash which I was. He asked if he could pay part of the bill with his debit card and then take some of my cash. I was not really sure about this so I made some vague non-committal reply and he wandered off. I went back to the chore of shopping (I detest it at the best of times). Some things were halfway reasonable and I pegged the standard to a tin of baked beans which at USD5 I considered extortionate. I actually had a fair bit of cash on me from a customer who occasionally likes to deal that way so that he pays less tax. It didn’t really help. I am so conditioned to not being able to afford things that I found it difficult to say – what the hell, you have the cash and want it so get it. I guess the experience with the scotch has left me with post traumatic stress. There was little to choose from anyway and what little there was had been spread out along the shelves to create a pathetic impression of plenty.

At the checkout I was again accosted by a woman who wanted to get some cash if she could pay with her card. When I acquiesced (the supermarket staff gave no indication that it was a scam) she leaped to the card scanner and swiped her card before I could change my mind. I didn’t bother asking why she did not just go to her bank because I already knew; most had run out of cash and the queues were formidable. Yes, it did occur to me to charge for the privilege but somehow it seemed a bit of a grubby practice – I guess I am a lousy businessman!

The fun started when the checkout operator started to count my low (old) denomination notes which you might remember are a 10000000000 times the face value on the computer monitor. There was not enough so I added in some of the new notes. Then I needed change which I was given in old coins. I declined. There was quite a considerable queue by now but Zimbabweans are a patient lot (way too patient – we’d have got rid of this regime in any other country) and some were even a bit amused.

On the way back home I dropped in at the office. I’d ascertained earlier in the day via the grapevine that the cash exchange rate had run to 3.6 to one US dollar, up from the beginning of the month when it was 1.5 (the 10 zeros have been removed). I adjusted the price list accordingly. It seems we are well on the way to another useless batch of currency.



2 responses

11 08 2008
Big Blister

Why did you think you needed Scotch anyway? I’d have thought long and hard about the debit card deal, but perhaps it’s ok if not traceable to you…

12 08 2008

I need scotch because I have run out! It helps me relax and keeps heart disease at bay – yes I would prefer red wine but that’s not cheap either.

There’s nothing sinister about the debit card deal. Just desperate measures in desperate times.

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