Monday, January 26, 2009

The One Where I Rant About Car Guards



Bella from That Damn Expat inspired me this morning with her eloquent ranting skills. She questioned the idea of tipping and why we tip people and I found myself all fired up at the end of it, ready to write rant of my own.

So here it goes:

Car Guards are as useful as a broken leg.

In South Africa when you park your car at a shop, school, university, place of public gathering, power plant, park, fountain, mountain, valley, river, lake, dam, amusement park you'll be assaulted by a man in a yellow jacket posing as a keeper of the peace.

These men will show you to an open parking space you've already seen direct you into said parking with wild hand signals (even though you know you can get in there with your eyes closed) and will stand at your window until you leave the car.

When you gather your things you will be greeted in a number of ways:

"Hi there sir/Madame"

"Hola chiefa"

"Hola Boss"

"One time my brother"

If you acknowledge them in any way you enter yourself into a silent contract with the yellow shirted man. A contract by which you agree to let the man 'look after' your car, protecting it from the vandals, thieves, hoodlums and neredowells that supposedly trawl busy parking lots in the middle of the day in exchange for a unspecified sum of money when you return.

If you choose to ignore these men you will often be responded to with a condescending hiss and click of the tongue. did I forget to mention that you will also run the risk of having your car scratched by the set of keys he carries in his pocket for just such an occasion or dented by the trolley he tugs around?

While you're spending time doing whatever you happen to be doing he might be bargaining with common thieves over how much he should be paid to look the other way while they steal your radio or at worst, your car. If this should happen you will notice the yellow shirted man swiftly skulk away when the police arrive.

If you are lucky enough to avoid these misfortunes you'll be greeted by a warm smile on your return, a smile that silently says "give me money" behind clenched teeth. If you get into your car without paying up you will be directed out of your parking space in a manner that wouldn't seem out of place in a driving instruction yard. As soon as you're out and ready to go he'll be at your window once more telling you how safe your car is and how it's still in one piece. If you refuse to pay up you're more likely to receive an angry swish rather than a friendly wave.

Yes, it's true. I hate Car guards.

They're completely ineffective, often playing parts in the crimes they're supposedly sitting there waiting to stop.

Do they carry guns? No.

Do they carry sticks? No.

Do they perhaps carry mace? No.

What do they carry then? A pocket full of change, given to them by hard working people for sitting there all day doing nothing.

Call me mean, call me insensitive, and tell me that it's providing jobs.

Sure it's providing jobs, jobs that are encouraging guys off the street to try and make as much money doing as little as possible.

Besides, why should I pay you to keep a car I paid for in one piece? Are you a mechanic perhaps? Because if you are we can talk.

Bah humbug.


Anonymous said...

Oh and what about the standard " Hellloooooooooooooo, thank you, thank you" usually accompanied by a head bob or a small bow.

The best? When you walk BACK to your car after shopping and the car guard is no where to be seen. Gone. POOF! And as soon as you're out your parking space he magically materialises next to your window.


Being Brazen said...

I really really REALLY dont like car guards.

Bella@That damn expat said...

It's like South Africa's own Cosa Nostra!

And completely ridiculous, of course. I've seen this in Portugal. Only the "guards" there are barefoot little gypsies.

Sara said...

HA! We have people like that in the U.S. but you don't have to tip them, I guess they just get paid from the money you have to pay to park there

Thomas said...

Sleepyjane: Shit, I must have missed that..sorry! I think they hold the secret to succesful teleportation, maybe they're not that useless after all?

Being Brazen: Me too

Bella: At least barefoot gypsies are interesting to look at. Besides, you have to give them money or their grandmothers will obviously put a Gypsy curse on you. Everybody knows that!:)

Sara: Consider yourselves lucky and stamp out any notions they might have about you tipping them on top of their wages. Be very very careful.....

Random Hiccups said...

Yes! our family car was recently broken into and the car guard reckoned that he didn't see anything. Another lady watched the men who broke into the car and watched the guard sit under the tree. yay for car guards. Not.

Tamara said...

Have you seen Green Mamba? It's a local comedy show... the dude does an awesome impression of the car guard.

My best is the way I'm expected to pay when I've left my husband in the car for all of five seconds to pop into the video store to return a DVD. Like seriously guy, not even Nicolas Cage could swipe my car that fast!

Tamara said...

Especially with my hubby in it.

Being Brazen said...

Thomas - you didnt tell me what you are reading right now?? If you are reading anything good - please go back to my blog and comment :)

I totally agree with your comment - its good to take a break from books once in a while...but it seems like my break is getting too long.... :)

Glugster said...

While I agree with a lot of the points raised here, I do beleive everyone is generalizing a bit. There are car guards that take their jobs very seriously, and will do it, not matter the weather.

If I believe he/she did a decent job I will tip him/her.

Thomas said...

Random: Gee I'm sorry. I've had something similar happen to me. Why didn't the lady watching do anything though?

Tamara: I've watched it! It was hilarious! In response to the video store comment, the car guards are the worst in Hatfield. I used to rent dvd's at a place down the road from the square in varsity. I was in there for 5 minutes once to return a dvd and when I didn't give the guard change he spat on my window. Disgusting.

Brazen: Will do!

Glugster: I have to agree. If the dude is standing there in the rain I will ALWAYS tip him, very generously.

angel said...

they drive me insane too!