Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How long would it take to wash the dishes?

Let’s say that in March of this year you are a male, law abiding, (refuse to have any truck with black market racketeers), foreign tourist who happened to be on holiday in Zambia. You are visiting the Victoria Falls, but as we know, the best view is on the other side of the border in Zimbabwe. Not sure if you can get much beer in Zimbabwe, you get well fuelled up before hand.

So you walk across the bridge and bump into the most beautiful girl in the world. She is very impressed with your Nike sport-shoes and Canon digital camera and thinking that you could maybe ‘pull’ her, you invite the damsel for dinner.

Being a complete poser, you state that as she is as glorious as a Queen, therefore she must be wined and dined as one, and as such you land up at the famed Victoria Falls Hotel where Queen Elizabeth had stayed when she had been doing the Great White Madam trip when the locals respected Great Britain for what it really is – an imperialistic nation of thieving land-grabbers.

With the dinner you order two Castle lager beers (for yourself) and the girl has a mineral water, as by now she has concluded you are a complete plonker. You call for the bill and make an impressive show of presenting the waiter with your American Express Gold card, without even looking at the cost; after all, you have a credit line of £5000. That should easily cover it…hah hah hah!

Sadly, unbeknown to you, the machine converts your bill of Z$ 1,243,255,000.00 at the official bank exchange rate of Z$ 60,568.60 to £1, making the cost of the dinner an impressive £ 20526 million or just 205.2 million or just 20,5 million, but it doesn’t matter as the credit limit is not enough and the card is returned cut into little pieces.

At this point, judging by the heavy feeling in your stomach, you conclude your steak had been made of solid gold and the rice must have been sautéed diamonds, the manager appears wearing dark sunglasses, and a large ‘I love ZANU (PF)' badge on his suit jacket. He is accompanied by two drunk and stoned male teenagers from the liberation war in green jackets carrying blood stained iron bars, who relieve you of your Nikes whilst singing ‘You will never walk alone’ in Shona, and share the pair between them. The girl meanwhile has excused herself to go to the Ladies but never returns, and oddly enough your camera has also absconded at the same time.

It was at this point that perhaps the advice not to carry any cash because the ‘Tsotsis’ might steal it, had been a little ill-advised and a £50 note exchanged on the illegal parallel market would have easily covered the bill along with a second-hand wheel barrow to carry the cash in, would have relived the problem you now face.

However, you freely volunteer to work off the debt, as any honest citizen with a conscience would do, by washing dishes in the kitchen. The manager, a charitable sort of bloke; who had only ever had previous customers who had not paid and tried to leg-it, been given the option of bungee jumping off the Vic Falls bridge with the rope tied to their necks or taking a stroll through one of the many mine fields still left over from the liberation war, happily agreed.

A wage, based on the national average for such menial tasks, was set at Z$1.5 million a month. A bonus of free accommodation on the sewerage covered streets with only an occasional beating (to maintain work moral), was set and you eagerly conclude that presuming that your wage is inflation linked, in a mere 100 odd years (or is it a thousand?) you could return home.

Post note: Unfortunately, due to the huge figures involved it is extremely difficult to work out the exact figures and length of time washing dishes. Thus, the moral of the story is – don’t pick up chicks unless you have a calculator NOT Made in China! And don’t forget the gratuity tip.

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