The latest published unemployment figures are alarming. Caryn Gootkin looks back at her own employment history and considers what people are willing to do for money.
“South Africa’s unemployment rate is now 25%. How do we solve this massive problem?”
This came through on my Twitter Feed last week from Skye Grove, Communications Manager of Cape Town Tourism. And it left me feeling both inadequate and helpless.
After all, my fledgling business, in other words, is struggling to keep me gainfully employed, never mind being in a position to create employment for others.
I am not the entrepreneurial type. I earned my financial independence the hard way, first as a cashier at the corner Spar, a dingy local store more like a café* than a supermarket. When the brand new Pick ‘n Pay opened down the road, I (and all the Spar’s customers) jumped ship.
Sadly, the Spar was not the only Camps Bay institution to fall victim to the locals’ shift in allegiance. Two other Beach Road institutions, “Sakkies” corner café and Lincoln Café, fell by the wayside too, the former disappearing long before the latter.
But once again I digress.
After working my way up to supervisor at Pick ‘n Pay, I served the rich and famous at the newly opened Rotunda ballroom. I soon realised the rude guests, prissy dress code and ban on eating leftovers were not for me.
At university, while I paid the bills teaching extra maths lessons to high school students, one of my friends began what has become the most successful auctioneering company in South Africa. Mind you, his career really started in primary school when he sold small blocks of wood to the other kids under the banner “Woodstock Timbers”. He now employs hundreds of people and has no need to feel inadequate when reading Skye’s tweet.
I have no answers to the dilemma Skye posed. And, on receiving the following email the next day, I railed against the scum who prey on the gullible unemployed. I have shortened it but left spelling and grammar as they were. (Thanks, KDL.)
To Whom It May Concern:
I am seeking for the services of a Home Nanny, Personal Driver and Hospital Administrator to work for me in the U.K, I am a doctor by profession and i own a hospital.I am willing to offer 400 pounds sterling per week for the Nanny and Driver and will provide monthly shopping allowances as well as accommodation. Note:All applicants must be honest and trustworthy,and also ready to assist me financially for procurement of visa and working permit at least 10% of the total expenses to prove your genuity.
Dr. Dave Balkisson
I am no forensic authority (although my husband thinks I would have made a good detective), but I don’t need an expert to tell me this is a scam.
Poor Leny30 is clearly more desperate than I am and not quite as alert. She wrote in to Scamwarners.com to ask if the professionals thought the following email, which came from a man belonging to the same dating site she did, was a scam. (The comments between brackets are mine. The rest is as I received it.)
Am sorry for offering you this way but am urgently in need of a nanny,I
got your profile in this site, Am a single parent blessed with 1 lovely daughter. Am a widower and I reside in 129 Great George Street in Bristol here in London.¸<Note to Leny30 – Bristol is not in London.>Am sorry if this sounds strange or new to you,am urgently seeking a service of a nanny for my daughter. I’ll be offering a salary of Seven Hundred and Fifty Pounds Sterlings (750gbp),weekly and will provide monthly shopping allowances as well as accommodation… Remember you’ll have to have a passport ready to get down here. I don’t really need an expert or a professional to look after my daughter <Unlike the McCanns, he doesn’t believe leaving his daughter alone is correct, but isn’t too fussed about who looks after her.>..you can send me an email to my private email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regards and God Bless,
Engineer Kelvin Dunn..
Financial desperation should not cloud our judgment, but clearly it does. There are many more Leny30s out there. So to help them, I am rounding up a list of unusual ways to make money. Watch this space.
*For those of you not blessed to have grown up as I did on the Southern tip of Africa, “café” is not a place where you lazily drink coffee on a Parisian sidewalk, watching the stylish locals saunter past. A South African café is a small grocery store, often on a street corner (hence the term corner café). I tried to find a dictionary definition for this meaning of café, but the only reference I came across was the following: “Be alert! Please notify us if you see any Playboy magazines in your local grocery shop, Woolworths,Corner Cafe or Petrol Station shops.” (http://www.christianaction.org.za/articles/BankruptPlayboy.htm)
Follow Caryn at http://twitter.com/#!/inotherwordscg