Capetonian Reliability

8 Apr

Cape Town has a beautiful mountain, a cold sea, bad drivers and astonishingly unreliable people. As long as you’re not someone that a particular person sees socially, it seems as though they could care less how much they inconvenience you. I’ve got any number of stories of uncaring behaviour from my many classified ad transactions of late.

PinocchioFor example, I tried to buy a laptop a couple of years ago. It was New Years Day, and I arranged with the seller that I was leaving from my suburb and would meet him 45 minutes later, because it was about a 40km drive. I arrived and he was not there. I phoned him and he had turned his cell off. I phoned my wife to ask her to check for his details on the ad, but he had removed the ad from the site. So I sat in New Years Day traffic for an additional hour, trying to make my unhappy way home. He had obviously got a better offer, and had decided that it was easier (for him) not to tell me.

Last year, I was selling a broken washing machine for R50, and someone called me at night in a flurry of excitement to ask if it was still for sale. At the end of the conversation, he said, “I’m getting in my car to come to you now!!” So I pulled the car out of the garage, cleared a path for the machine, carried it out to the driveway, cleaned it up and began waiting in the dark. I paced up and down the driveway for an hour. I tried calling. Nothing. He never came.

Last night, I got another call for some golf clubs I’m trying to get rid of, and we arranged verbally that he could come and fetch them later that night, because my wife was out and I was going to be at home and up late. The following is the subsequent stream of smsses between me (called J) and the buyer (B).

First, inexplicably, he makes out as though it is reasonable to expect that we might have met at a central location, even though it was night:

B – 20:25 – “Hi. What’s the latest we can meet as I’m very keen for the clubs. Was thinking we can meet close to your side of the world.”

J – 20:27 – “I can’t leave because I’m baby sitting. But you can come before 22:00.”

B – 20:31 – “Not familiar with [your suburb]. I’m quite excited and desperate for it tonight.”

J – 20:34 – “You can check on the map provided…”

Note how keen he is for the item. Desperate even. That should have been my first clue that he didn’t want them. So, he then confirmed the meeting and pushed the time limit out a bit, so I asked him to at least keep me informed of how late he was intending to come.

B – 20:35 – “OK cool. I will be coming through. Is it OK if it’s after 22:00?”

J – 20:37 – “Sure, a little, but keep me informed.”

B – 20:37 – “Will do. See you soon.”

Half an hour later, he tells me he’s left home:

B – 21:07 – “Leaving now. Is the price negotiable?”

J – 21:09 – “Can do 720 but no lower.”

But almost an hour and a half later, he’s not arrived. So I contact him. He claimed to be driving.

J – 22:22 – “How far are you? Still coming?”

B – 22:28 – “Hey. Driving. Had to turn around. Something cropped up. Wife issues. Are you a late owl?”

I ask whether he’s driving home or to me, and it turns out that it’s neither.

J – 22:30 – “Wife’s in bed. Can we meet tomorrow, or are you already en route to me?”

B – 22:32 – “No not yet… I’ll contact you in the morning.”

Go on, ask me if he’s contacted me today.

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