If I do help you and you feel the need to reward me, please don't start a crowdfunding campaign. Just buy me a beer.
I felt inspired by the story of the Shell garage attendant who gave a young white woman a hundred rand’s worth of petrol out of his own pocket when she was low on fuel and had no cash on her. But I was even more inspired when I read that the crowdfunding campaign she started for him had raked in almost half a million rand.
I was so inspired that I spent the last few days approaching young women who looked as if they needed something. I won’t go into too much detail because there might be a lawsuit or two pending. Much of my humanitarian work was conducted in parking lots outside malls where there is a high turnover of women in various states of mind and need.
I wore my black trench coat because of its extraordinary capacity for concealing items which might be of interest to women of a certain age and caliber. My first prospective beneficiary was on the skeletal side of the spectrum. I intercepted her before she could frighten me off with one of those looks that women give men.
“Good day,” I said. “You look hungry. Would you like something to eat?” Upon which I opened my coat to reveal a selection of sandwiches and snacks duct-taped to the lining. She seemed startled in the way that a starving woman would seem startled were she to be offered food but had recklessly forgotten her purse at home.
“Fear not, madam,” I said encouragingly. “I seek no recompense for these tasty items. My only desire is that you receive the required sustenance to avoid fainting behind the wheel.”
She spurned my sandwich and I am not proud to admit that I wished her ill on her journey home or wherever the hell she was going. Probably to see a doctor about her anorexia. Or to a psychiatrist to talk about her reluctance to start a crowdfunding campaign should she accept unconditional help from strangers.
I also tried to help women outside hospitals by offering a range of mostly recreational drugs. There seemed to be a spark of interest from a few, but I think they were put off by seeing the narcotics nestled in among the snacks. It’s only a coat, for god’s sake. I can’t be expected to provide separate sections for everything. A lot of the women I approached certainly looked as if they needed some kind of drug that would cheer them up or help them see sparkly things that don’t exist, but they shied away the moment I said it was for free. That I was simply trying to help. Out of the goodness of my heart.
I think, deep down, they all knew there was no such thing as a free Mars bar or impeccably rolled joint. They had heard of the pay-it-forward principle either through that dreadful Kevin Spacey movie or one or other delusional religious tract. If not, then they had almost certainly read about our do-gooder pump jockey and they did not want to feel beholden to anyone, least of all a perfect stranger. It was enough with the husbands.
A homeless person asked if he might have some food and drugs but, after a brief interrogation about his familiarity with crowdfunding campaigns, I realised he was not suitable for welfare and sent him on his way. “Get a laptop,” I shouted.
As the sun began to set on the last day I would ever spend trying to help people, I sat on a park bench and proceeded to deplete the contents of my coat. I found it unutterably sad that nobody was interested in raising half a million rand for me in return for gratuitous acts of generosity. They can all go to hell.
But then a strange thing happened and I was filled with an overwhelming sense of relief.
As the contributions reached a level beyond the wildest dreams of Nkosikho Mbele – for that is our hero’s name – the public began taking an interest. This rarely turns out well, as the ANC has discovered. Most of us aren’t that bright, but don’t underestimate us. We know when something doesn’t sound right. And if we don’t, we have friends, family or political advisors who will tell us what to think or feel.
The crowdfunding company that was used to raise money for the saint from Shell made one fatal mistake. Instead of taking the money, torching their offices and setting up a new business under a different name in the Caribbean, they sent out a tweet to let us know that they wouldn’t be depositing this handsome sum into Nkosikho’s personal bank account. This was his decision, they said. Instead they would manage and disburse the funds according to his wishes.
“Like f*ck you will,” shouted black Twitter. “We will burn your colonialist crowdfunding scam to the ground if you do not immediately give this man, who we know nothing about, seventeen garbage bags full of other people’s money.”
One of Nkosikho’s self-appointed guardians demanded the company release a video confirming that he had given them permission to administer the money on his behalf. Someone else said this wouldn’t work because it could be “scripted and recorded under duress”. Like those Al-Qaeda hostage videos, except off-camera someone from management would be pointing a petrol hose at his head.
Someone else said, “Just give the man his money please. And while you are at it, give us back our land as well.” Sounds fair.
Meanwhile, Nkosikho is almost certainly finding himself with many new friends and cousins he didn’t even know existed. I can’t imagine anything worse.
If I do help you and you feel the need to reward me, please don’t start a crowdfunding campaign. Just buy me a beer.
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