I used to wonder why South Africans had this lingering reputation for being complete spoilt brats, and then I found myself in a total toestand at Carrefour, with my shopping piling high at the cashier desk and no one there to pack it all into bags. — Antibes, 2012
And today, while at the car wash place, wrangling a completely out-of-control hose of foamy water and screaming my best French at the teller guy telling him to “MAKE IT STOP!”, I realised how totally useless us spoilt, white South Africans are when we’re expected to fend for ourselves overseas.
The princess in me didn’t really know how to use an iron without burning the buttons.
Almost on a daily basis, Europe gives me a cheeky little reminder that each and every spoilt South African yachtie is headed for a sure snotklap in the do-it-yourself-department-of-life.
You see, I didn’t grow up in the ‘real world’. And I’m afraid to share this, but most spoilt, white South Africans don’t really get to see the real world until they’re overseas… And wrangling the foaming anaconda that’s supposed to clean your car.
It’s baked into our culture to rely on help from the gracious women and men of our country who do all the dirty work for us: cleaning, cooking, washing. When yachting agencies told me this, I thought they were having a laugh. Back then, I was too precious to see that the princess in me didn’t really know how to use an iron without burning the buttons.
Truth be told, they’re breaking their children bringing them up this way.
Added to the problem of preciousness is a usually over-involved, matriarchal mum who does all the organising and a pandering, rich daddy who pays for this yachting gap yah. It’s no good when parents worry their little porcelain Sally will break when she finally gets to meet the real world in France. Truth be told, they’re breaking their children bringing them up this way.
It’s embarrassing now but for the sake of driving this point home, I’ll admit to you that I never made my bed growing up. And I have no distinct memory of ever doing the dishes or folding my laundry.
I only learned how to work a washing machine when I got to university and saw my laundry basket grow taller than my set of golf clubs.
My Swede was the first man I had ever seen use a vacuum cleaner. I was so shocked, I nearly ran over and asked him if he needed my help. And when I saw my then 16-year-old Swedish sisters mucking out the stables in blistering cold winter with smiles on their faces, I figured I had grown up wrapped in peaches and cotton wool.
Then there was the problem of filling up the car. Dear spoilt, white South African: have you ever filled up a car? Or checked the tire pressure? I had no clue. I still don’t know how to wash the blimmin’ thing without getting foam all over myself.
Part of me thinks that with the right attitude and some elbow grease, these deeply cultural issues can be ironed out. Literally…
Come to my home now and you’ll see a totally different woman; a woman who’s had the spoiltness beaten out of her with Europe’s big broomstick.