It’s just before 9am on Monday morning. Pseudo-posh shopping centre (yes, that one) in an affluent Cape Town suburb (yes, also that one).
I’m drawing money at an out-of-place ATM.
This isn’t a risky one. There are people around. I’m inside, past security. It’s Monday morning, the criminals probably had a busy weekend and they’re likely sleeping in.
Still, I keep my eyes and ears peeled. This is, after all, South Africa.
I become aware of an old guy shuffling around the lobby, talking on his phone. Everyone else has people to see and places to go, but his attention is solely on his conversation, to the exclusion of all else. He’s a much better target than me if anyone was on the rob this early. He bears an uncanny resemblance to Bernie Sanders.
“Where are you?”
he asks his correspondent, as I type in my PIN.
“And where have you been?”
as I request my cash.
I’m guessing that they’re sorting a number of errands at the centre together.
And then, as I glance around before taking my money, our eyes meet and he fixes me with a distant, yet powerful gaze.
“And where are you going?”
His voice echoes across the bustling concourse and pierces deep into my inner being.
It’s the big one. The final query of the existential trifecta.
I take my card and my cash and briskly walk away, deep in thought, considering where any of us are actually going.
Sadly, for me, it was just Pick n Pay.