Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just for a laugh....

Walk into downtown Joburg and ask "Which way to Soweeeeto?"
If they don't kill you first, I guarantee they'll die of laughter.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How to make a buck in South Africa

If South Africa were a more litigious society, there are some things a lawyer might find particularly enticing about life in this part of the world. Particularly lucrative, shall we say.

Elevators that trap pregnant women between the ground and the first floor (yes – like Europe, they call the floor above the ground floor the first floor). Screeching to a series of halts, and plummets, the elevator grinds to a halt about a foot above the intended landing area, forcing said pregnant woman to crawl out, and send an all-staff email in warning.

Gross negligence by locksmiths who, instead of cutting a simple door key properly, cock it up so that one’s parents are trapped outside one’s apartment for 5 hours, unable to get in, and unable to contact you on your mobile, because you have wisely left the mobile on the dining room table with a note for them explaining you thought it better that they have the mobile for the day to avoid being trapped in the apartment complex with no link to the outside world. (For more reading on this subject, see post #2 “The importance of a blackberry”). (Now that, Alanis Morrisette, is actually ironic.)

Gross ridiculous gaping holes in main roads, marked by a single pylon, if you’re lucky, causing unnecessary swerving, and lots of accidents.

Manslaughter in the second degree by anyone and everyone who smokes in this country – which actually is anyone and everyone (possibly even said pregnant woman’s fetus, for all I know) – since smoking anywhere and everywhere is pretty much a-ok.

Ill-placed hills of sand in the middle of major roads, with not even a pylon, resulting in more swerving, cussing, and general bad temper.

Complete lack of street lights, reflective paint on street signs and highway information boards, and cows in the middle of highways, causing premature death due to stress trying to read the signs and find one’s way back from the Pilanesberg after dark because one just “had to go and see the elephants again”. After one white-knuckle ride home, you’d think one would have learned. But you would be wrong-o.

Probably quite inadvisable lack of cabs* or cab chits after work functions involving beer from 8am until way way way after dark, resulting in three, count’em, three, vehicles being written off after encounters with aforementioned sand hills, gaping holes, and probably a couple of cows too.

*Although – here’s a great idea that is actually happening in Joburg: You’re drunk. You don’t want to drive, but you also don’t want to leave your car – because you are in South Africa. You don’t drive – you call: Toot n’Scoot. Some dude answers your call, drives over on a collapsible scooter. He puts the scooter in your trunk, and drives you and your car home. Then he pulls out his scooter, and off he goes, like the shining scooter knight that he is. Brilliant.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New nephew just arrived!

My new baby nephew has arrived - just got the call from New York.
Healthy, and apparently already stubborn, little guy is hanging with his parents now after a very long day.
Congratulations to Wes and Nanci - who will be the best new parents ever.
Can't wait to meet him in December.
Very very very excited.

If you’re gonna launch a car....

If you’re gonna launch a car, and for those of us in advertising working on automotive accounts, it happens – here are some helpful best practices to keep in mind for your launch party. (Momentum – feel free to use these. I won’t charge for the ideas.) (And yes - this was a successful launch - I'm only being a jerk about a couple of details).

-Make sure there’s a signature drink named after your car. Preferrably something diabetes-inducingly sweet, bright blue, with a cherry in it. Serve in martini glasses for ultra-classiness.

-Make sure your host is “Mr. Magic” – a dude from Canada who’d be right at home at Casinorama.

-Make sure that you slowly lower your vehicle from a hole in the ceiling on a swing contraption with lots of fireworks and sparkly lights.

-Make sure that your feature act is the girl group formed from three finalists from South African Idol, performing a medly of huge ‘80s hits like Bonnie Tyler's “I need a hero” *

-Above all, make sure that you and your clients get up onstage, uninvited, and proceed to dance with said feature act. Make sure that you get in some photographs that are probably going on that feature act’s website. Make sure that there are lots of fun antics where Dealers dance around with the singers, and sales people do air guitar. And most importantly, if anyone tries to get off the stage and stop dancing, make sure the bigwig client (think at the CAR level, or higher) bars their way, announcing “Nobody goes anywhere!!

Now THAT’s a car people are gonna want to buy.

*Also the theme song for a brilliant 1984 TV show called Cover Up, starring Jon Erik Hexum - quite the babe until he accidentally shot himself in the head, died, and was replaced, as if we wouldn’t notice. Why do they do stuff like that? Remember when Bo and Luke Duke disappeared, and their cousins came on the show? Brutal. Talk about jumping the shark. I never noticed until I checked out a rerun recently, but Daisy Duke wears panty hose. Seriously. Isn’t it hot in Georgia? Why would she wear those? Weird.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Think smarter. Not harder.

As someone in advertising, I am no stranger to the phrase “Think outside the box.” It is very easy to say, but harder to do.

Here’s a little lesson in thinking outside of boxes, South African style.
Let’s say you are on your way back to the office from the client’s office, and as you approach the security gate, you realize you have left in the boot of your car the little slip of paper that needs to be signed by the client, then handed to the security guards at the gate as you drive out.
(The only reason it is in the boot is because you had to put your purse in there to avoid being smashed-and-grabbed, but that’s another story.)
So, you quickly pull over, jump out, run to the back of the car, and attempt to open the boot. It is locked.
You run back to the driver’s side door which is closed, and, oh shit, also locked.
You can’t quite believe you have done this.
Your car is still running.
The doors are locked.
Your purse, and mobile, are in the trunk.
Oh shit.
(In Afrikaans: “kak”.)
You assess the situation.
You are locked out of a running car, at the side of the road, in South Africa.
Eish. (also “oh shit.”)
No need to panic. There’s a construction site in front of you. Surely one of these guys can break into your car.
Putting on your best “I’m just a dumb girl” face, you explain that you are just a dumb girl, and have locked your keys in your car. With the motor running.
Two burly, but helpful construction guys come over to assess.
And as men will do, they find a piece of wire, and proceed to jam the wire into the side of the car, attempting to open the lock.
No luck.
They then force the door away from the frame, the wire into the car, and attempt to hook the door handle from the inside.
This carries on for about 45 minutes.
In the meanwhile, your client has driven by, and after laughing at you, calls your office, explains that you are just a dumb girl, and can they send a locksmith
The burly guys, frustrated, give up, wish you luck in all future endeavours, then take off.
You sit at the side of the road for another half hour, thinking that this is the least safe place in the world to be a dumb girl.
Finally, your guardian angel appears in the form of a guy in a locksmith truck.
He’s the locksmith.
Now, here’s the lesson in thinking outside the box:
Instead of messing with the lock, hooking the doorhandle, cutting a key, or whatever else locksmith’s do, he takes one look at the situation.
He inflates a little thingy in the frame of the door, gets out his bit of wire, and goes straight for the automatic window opener.
The car is running.
The easiest thing to do is not defy physics in an attempt to pull the door handle from the inside with a bit of wire.
It’s to push the damn window button down.
At this point you may feel even dumber.
But wait.
After 10 minutes of the locksmith trying to hit the window button with his piece of wire, we still seem to be making no progress.
At that point, yet another construction worker appears, and asks:
“Hey – did you know your passenger window is going up and down and up and down?”

Now at least the locksmith feels dumb too.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Contest Winner Announced

Bit of housekeeping: Long overdue announcement of the contest winner.
With the actual tally of shoes in my closet, pre-purchase of scuba boots, sitting at 14, that makes eLiz the lucky lucky lucky winner.

Grand prize: free stay at casa de Helen in Joburg for as long as you like. I’ll even give you a set of keys.

Secondary prizes to a select few who entered: almost-free stays at casa de Helen in Joburg. Price of entry: one bottle of wine. Red, please.

Thanks to all who entered.