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Monday, July 4, 2011

crediscrimination

There's a hate I have been harbouring in my heart for a very long time, this hate has been reinforced over and over again, it comes as the result of something that makes me feel poor and unwanted, an action that makes me feel discriminated against, and worth less than I actually am as if I was a second class citizen not worth the time of those perpetrating those sins against me.

Yesterday the same thing happened not to me but to my cousin as I stood there watching him. He was angry, I was angry and on the way home we railed against a system that had brought us to such an impasse.

A few days earlier my cousin and I went to Chandarana to purchase some alcohol, there was no special occasion for the buying of this alcohol except that I had finished school the previous day and the sun had risen this. We took a walk from home to our local wines and spirits, Chandarana supermarket. I loved this place once upon a time. It was a liquor store masquerading as a supermarket, a place where the only reason they sold detergent was so they could also sell alcohol. This of course could also be the result of my perspective as a perennial alcohol buyer who is routinely shocked that people go to supermarkets for anything else. Anyway we went into that supermarket with 200 shillings earmarked for the alcohol. 200 shillings can buy you a 350 ml of kibao vodka, which is a good amount of alcohol for a morning tipple. And we made a beeline for the store and what we found there was not even a 350 ml. bottle of vodka instead there was a 250 ml. bottle going for 250 shillings. A lot of [people won’t see that there’s much to this difference but to quote a wise man, it’s not the principle, its the price Needles to say we were heartbroken and as we walked home we bemoaned the moment when Chandarana sold its soul for riches, it made us sad and sick to see the lure of commercialism taking away one other abode. But they had another product at prices we were more willing to spend and that was what we decided to get.

This was on a Friday morning, come Sunday evening we had worked ourselves to this place where we had to make that walk again and make yet another purchase of alcohol to quietly pass the night with.

Chandarana was closed.

A losing proposition in this city is to be in Lavington and in need of cheap alcohol at a time when Chandarana has closed. it may be easier to look for some water and a son of god. Thankfully there's a petrol station convenience store right there and they sold us some liquor, which was when the event happened. My cousin needed some credit but had only 20 shs on him. So he asked for credit for 20 shs and the guy says rather smugly.

“Hatuuzi credit ya mbao.”(We don't sell credit for 20 shs)

And this is what I hate, I hate going to a place and wanting some credit then they tell me they don't sell credit for 20 shs. It evokes certain emotions in me. I know it's certainly a form of discrimination, its socio-economic discrimination which is something that can't be legislated against, can it? It says we only want a certain kind of clientele in our shops and those are people who don't spend that little money on credit. I imagine that when those attendants say it they look down on me for even requesting. I feel so dirt poor at that point and I could almost buy that 1000 credit to shut up the condescension but if I could afford that I wouldn't be asking for the 20 shilling one.

My problem is I don't see the economic downside of having 20 shillings of credit at the same time, and in the same place as 1000 shs. what could be so bad about serving the large proportion of the population that can't afford to spend that much on credit. I feel sure am not the only person in the country who buys credit in a denomination that speaks of a permanent state of poverty and an ultimately frugal hand to mouth existence. There are a lot of us out there. People with priorities and needs that overshadow the incessant urge to communicate. For example I would much rather have bought that alcohol than spend that much on credit.
But the feeling kills. It happens in places where a large proportion of the community is affluent, neighbourhoods like Lavington, stores like the Junction, bars like Carnivore. It seems to be a way to keep the riff raff out of the stores where the rest go to. Am not sure if it can be illegal to have credit in only large denominations, but it feels wrong to me. The reason it’s been done seems to be to keep people like me away from the stores and allow the people who actually have money leeway to shop without having to come into contact with a person who would buy credit in such a small denomination. Because as we all know poverty is contagious and we wouldn’t want just anyone to catch it.

I can understand that maybe am blowing this out of proportion. Maybe there are wholly economic principles why it makes more sense to never buy credit in such small denominations for such establishments. And if there's anything that makes it easy to justify anything it’s the presence of economics principles. Am not really sure anyone understands how economics works. There seem to always be conflicting theories with no way of proving one or the other wrong. Therefore it is completely possible that there is a principle behind this.

But that doesn't change the fact that I feel horrible when I am turned away from a place just because they chose and they chose purposely not to have goods that I could afford especially when its credit and not food or clothes which are more expensive in some places because that's how life works. But credit isn't more expensive here it's just not available to people with too many priorities to allow this to be their first one and it gets to me.