The very second I leave the security estate I get hassled. I pull up at the robots and there is someone there with either pleading eyes and a sign board or someone tapping at the window asking for money or trying to push marketing leaflets through the gap. The worst are the people trying to sell you a product or a service, like it or no,t if they want to clean your window they jolly well will and they will run alongside your car trying to sell you a car charger or something related to ‘hello kitty’.
The sellers are determined; if your window is open they will drop the goods inside, no matter how many times you say no or pass it back they won’t give in. I don’t fall for the trick to get you to open your window but many do, the sellers will point at the front of your car and start talking, convincing you something is wrong with the car so you open your window.
In car parks, there are people in hi viz vests, they’re not always employed by the shopping centres and they point at empty spaces for you to park in, they whistle, wave their arms. When you leave they stand behind you to guide you out, but other drivers pay little attention and I’ve seen situations where the guy in the hi viz has just walked away.
Entering shops is a hassle, at first you’re greeted with ‘good morning, how are you?’ you reply ‘I’m good thanks, and you’ and then you can make your enquiry, if you don’t require assistance you will be asked if you can be helped by every assistant in the store even when you’re just browsing. To leave a store you are asked to show your receipt where the items are checked off against the receipt, despite the security having watched you walk from the till to the door. Quite often you will be bag checked on your way into a store also.
Leaving a supermarket is another hassle, someone will try to take your trolley to load your goods in the car, even when you say ‘no thank you’ they will often follow you to your car and stand and wait for the empty trolley before then attempting to guide you out of a parking space in exchange for a few Rand.
In restaurants it gets no better, seated, menu presented, drinks ordered, then a new waiter introduces themselves, food arrives, you eat, ask for bill, pay and leave, but during that process your waiter will ask you several times if everything is ok, the supervisor will ask you if everything is ok and the manager will ask you if everything is ok. As soon as you put your cutlery down or finish your drink, it is whisked away while the rest of the table are still eating and drinking.
The only place I have solitude in South Africa is in my own home, but then that doesn’t mean gardeners and maids won’t ring your bell asking for work.