I usually take a breather from staring at my computer all day and stretch my legs by walking around Newlands shopping center and going into TM supermarket looking for whatever can be found on the shelves that I might be interested in. So the other day I marched into TM expecting the usual quiet inactivity and glaring empty shelves. I was happy to find some Dettol bath soap on the toiletries shelf. The usually empty toiletries section had something else I hadn’t seen in a long time in any supermarket: cans of anti-perspirant and all sorts of other deodorant. It was not just any deodorant at that but excellent brands like Shield and Lentheric among an array of what I consider inferior brands. Ironically the price range was the same across inferior and superior alike; at only $39 million! Well, maybe that’s not very cheap to some people, but for those who have looked around for these things know what I’m talking about. Thinking I wasn’t reading the prices correctly, I chatted up the guy who was still putting price tags on various products on the same shelf. He reassured me that I was reading correctly, and yes, he’d just put on the prices himself.
I wondered aloud why they were so cheap debating whether to take one or not. The guy volunteered that it made sense because it was “just old stock.” Old stock? Where was it getting old at all this time? I mean, I come here almost daily for the past one month. I gently prodded further and he explained, or rather, confessed that the stuff had been there all along in their storerooms. It had been removed when the ‘task force’ was going around slashing prices. Understandable, but the shelves continued to be bare even after the Zimbabwe government backtracked from the price controls, so why didn’t they put back the products, I asked. Surely such behavior is common only among saboteurs?
Saboteur, what is that, he asked? I explained that sabotage is a deliberate action of subversion, deception or dishonesty. He gave a soft laugh and said, “These are uncertain times and God only knows what other crazy ideas ‘those people’ might just wake up with again. Besides, there is a little saboteur in all of us. I mean now that you’ve found these deodorants unusually cheap, aren’t you going to hoard as many of them as you can in anticipation of the unknown? I tell you, it’s going to take a while to cure the nation of things like speculation and hoarder mentality.”
How dare that man even suggest I was a saboteur? I took four cans of anti- perspirant . . .
The other week I walked into a pharmacy looking for ibuprofen, a painkiller one can purchase without prescription.Â I however happened to have my mother’s medical prescription for some drugs only a doctor and pharmacist can prescribe. After getting my painkiller, I inquired from one of the male pharmacists if they had any of the drugs on the prescription. He stared at the prescription for a moment then told me they hadn’t had those kinds of drugs in months. As I turned to leave, he leaned forward and whispered, “But I can sell you mine, if you like.” Taken off guard, I looked around to see the other pharmacists smiling at me with knowing looks. I purchased my mother’s medication at an obviously inflated price on a little black market thriving right there in the pharmacy.