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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Coming home from rehearsal tonight, I stopped at a 7-11 in the city to buy a juice. I took it to the counter and bore witness to that excruciatingly embarrassing moment that all males encounter at one point in their lives or another: buying condoms.

With a new twist.

At this particular 7-11, the condoms were kept well behind the counter, with cigarettes and (more humourously) batteries. This young man standing at the counter in a black tracksuit hoodie is already mid-conversation with the staff member behind the counter. The black hoodie guy is clearly uncomfortable enough - his body language, one hand in his pocket fidgeting and there's a nervousness in his voice.

Problem is, the counter guy is not just a new guy, replete with "Staff In Training" badge and smiley face image, but he also speaks very very minimal English.

So this poor guy who's clearly about to get lucky if he can just get through this is uncomfortable enough that he can't buy these things discretely (take them off the shelf, slide them across the counter, get them scanned, discretely take them back, pocket them, pay, leave).

No. Here he is, in a 7-11, pointing at condoms on the wall two feet out of his reach, loudly exclaiming...
"No, CONDOMS! CON-DOMS! There! ... No, there! Next. Keep going. Keep going..."
to a staff member who A) doesn't understand the word he's saying and B) even if he did, didn't know where they were or what the hell he was talking about.

After an excruciating thirty or so seconds of this, the transaction was sorted and the black hoodied guy fled the scene, off to complete another transaction of sorts. ;) The staff member simply smiled as he was trained, moved onto me, blissfully unaware he'd put a poor guy through more torture than necessary.

I then had to explain the concept of "CASH OUT" to him when I wanted to use my EFTPOS card. The juice was overpriced.

What's the lesson here? Buy your condoms well in advance. Take advantage of what most of Africa cannot take advantage of.

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