Friday 19 June 2009

Water and nonsense

I don’t like those newspaper columns that try to begin with a seemingly trivial personal experience and then generalise from that to make important philosophical or spiritual point. You know the type. “I went to the ATM this morning and it wasn’t working and that made me think about the state of democracy in our country.”

It’s always struck me as a lazy way of writing and of making a point. Nevertheless that’s exactly what I’m going to do in this column.

For the last week I’ve had no water at home. No I wasn’t cut off for not paying the bill, it wasn’t just me, it was an entire community of several hundred people who had a very dry week. Nobody is sure why we all went without water but what we have all learned is how little most of us think about our water supply, how much we take it for granted.

It really is only when you are without something that you learn to appreciate it. In this case all of us have understood how much water we use in normal circumstances and, shamefully, how much we waste. We’ve learned how much water disappears when we flush the toilet, when we wash our hands and when we brush our teeth. We all now have a much greater respect for our water supply. So, my profound and meaningful lesson this week is that we should appreciate what we have while we still have it. I’m going to stop being meaningful and self-important now because I’m already feeling nauseous. I’m beginning to sound like one of those crooked, fancy car-driving, sharp-suited, bejewelled, charlatan preachers trying to part us from our money by coming out with meaningless claptrap.

Meanwhile it would have been nice if the local authorities had told us before they cut us all off, to have given us a chance to make alternative plans and to freeze all those ice cubes for the drinks we need at the end of the day. It would have been nice if they could have found a way to keep us informed on progress as well.

I suppose it depends what it is we have to live without. Living without water is amazingly difficult when you’ve been used to it all of your life. Living without electricity is much easier as we all know by now. You might need to sit down before reading this next sentence. It is even possible to live without television. I know it’s hard to believe but DSTV is not, I repeat not, essential for life. Yes, I know we are so used to endless repeats of prehistoric episodes of Top Gear but that doesn’t mean life can’t continue without them.

Before you think I’m leading up to suggesting that what this means is that we should all show greater respect to stores and suppliers because of the very hard work they do let me correct you. I DO think stores deserve a little respect for some of the things they do, the variety they offer us and the occasional good deal they offer but only when they have earned that respect. The problem for suppliers is that this respect usually takes a while to develop but can be lost almost instantly.

Well, in principle it can. I sometimes wonder why we don’t get angrier with suppliers when they treat us badly. I don’t know why we don’t just stop shopping at certain stores when they seem to hold us in contempt.

While I was writing this, I confess in front of the TV, I saw an advertisement for something that reminded me how some suppliers really don’t seem to care very much about the consumer protections laws of Botswana. The advert was for the “Electropedic Reflexology Foot Massager”. This supposedly miraculous device is a plastic foot rest that has a digital display on it. Underneath each of your feet will be glowing red areas that emit mythical “Far infrared radiation” and “EMS Reflexology” that stimulate “known reflex points in the foot that correspond to certain other areas in the body so as to cure or prevent disease.” The manufacturers of this silliness claim that this is all “based on the premises that our nerve zones or reflex points go from the bottom of our feet to the top of our head, encompassing all vital organs on the way.”

Clearly anatomy, physiology and basic common sense were not part of the education undertaken by the marketing people from Homemark who came up with this rubbish.

This R1,000 device is a useless piece of junk that you should not buy. It is based on a nonsensical idea, a massive misunderstanding about how the human body works and clearly came from someone with a major foot fetish.

I know people who like having their feet massaged and I’ve no problem with that, just don’t ask me to do the dirty work. I’ve been known to enjoy a head massage myself and very enjoyable it was too but it wasn’t anything more than deeply relaxing.

However the worrying thing was that at the end of the advertisement they listed the stores in SA that will be stocking this ludicrous contraption and at least one of them is present in Botswana. We can all guess which one.

Of course this store and any others in Botswana will refuse to sell this product. Of course they’ll know any store selling it will be in breach of Sections 15 (1) (b) and (d) of the Consumer Protection Regulations which forbids selling a product and quoting “data in support of a claim unless the data can be readily substantiated” and promising outcomes “where those outcomes have no safe scientific, medical or performance basis”. Of course they would want to do that, would they?

This week’s stars
  • William and Kelebogile from Game in Gaborone for “out of this world service”.

No comments: