Have you ever just been confused, caught up in an awkward situation, not knowing what to do? That was me, during my teen years.

I was caught up with all the frustration of the life ahead. Plus I had just completed my grade 12 and the next thing I found, I was just hustling in a small carwash in zone R. It wasn’t the same though, but before I worked there, I had so many decisions crossing my mind. I wondered if I’ll be able to find a decent job sooner so that I could at least help my unemployed mother.

One thing that discouraged me was that I didn’t have an ID. So my life was just at a standstill. It horrified me a lot because during those days, the weekly newspaper used to interview people my age, complaining about being made to re-apply for their IDs whilst they had them already.

That was the thing feared by all – to be a South African citizen without an ID. That’s why I settled into this car wash. The car wash thing didn’t last long. My employer’s parents insisted to hold the money I made during the day of each day. Even though their son (my employer) was important, it was like whenever his parents said “jump” he asked “how high?”

They started to change what they called “rules” without consulting the oppressed. My mind and feelings became peremptory, demanding to know why things turned out to be like that. But I never got the answer to my question. At the outset of this whole changing of things, I thought that maybe it was just a joke, until my employer’s parents called me inside the house one evening.

They told me straight forward that starting from that day, they wanted to keep everything on record. Reluctantly I nodded with my eyes looking straight into his.

“Here is a book,” said my employer’s father. “Every car you wash you record it inside this book and write its price next to the name of that particular car. After that you add the whole total of the day and leave the money here so that we can see the progress of the business and get to help where necessary, purchase new material and extend the car wash at the same time.”

I nodded again, but this time without complacency.

“We also want to cut the R20 you spend every day for food. We will make a lunch box for you,” said my employer’s father.

Suddenly my mind went wild. I wondered whether I should quit right then or wait for the end of the month to get at least a reasonable amount of money. I quickly made a decision to wait until the end of the month, thereafter I would never be back again.

I also decided not to tell them when I quit. Actually I wanted to leave them surprised, with many questions. They treated me like an outsider, giving me all the rules that I couldn’t bear, let alone carry out.

After a week my so-called employer came over to the car wash to tell me that his father was complaining about the statements of water. He undoubtedly told me that this car wash thing had to be temporarily closed due to high water bills. The truth of the matter was that he wanted to get rid of me, but he didn’t quite know how. He just made up a lie out of a blue. It was on Saturday, the time was round about 13h00.

He even told me to put the material together and close the car wash for the day. I asked him whether I should open the next day, to my surprise he said no. He then told me straight that my job was over.

My knees felt weak for a moment. I felt very insolent. “So when are you gonna pay me?” I asked.

“I’ll pay you on Monday,” he replied.

“How much are you going to pay me?”

“How much do you want?” He replied.

“I want R400,” I replied sternly.

“R400?” he asked, as if he had seen a ghost.

“Yes,” I replied curtly, not moving my eyes from him.

“Well,” he said, “I don’t have that kind of money. Even the car wash after your arrival until now hasn’t made such an amount. So where do you think R400 will come from?”

Deep down in my heart I knew that since my arrival until that day, I’d made more money that exceeded R400 and far beyond. I didn’t argue with him. I quickly packed my stuff and returned the material to his homestead and went straight home.

I had a nap and then woke up to take a bath. By that moment I had two separate minds. The other mind was forcing me to go back and demand my money right then. But then the other mind was patient for Monday, the day he promised to pay me on. I became tired with my own undecided and divided mind to the extent that I went to my employer’s homestead to demand what was mine.

I found his parents.

It was quite a surprise because I wasn’t really expecting them. However, even if I had expected them, it would have been better to find their son present. They told me that he had gone out. For a brief moment I remained silent, composing what I would say to them, since well their dear arrogant son wasn’t there.

What annoyed me was that the words I had planned to tell my employer were stored in my head for no particular reason.

“You can always leave a message and I’ll make sure that my son receives your message,” my employer’s father broke the silence.

“No thanks, I’ll come back later,” I replied.

His father began to tell me various things at the same time, dividing my mind even worse. His stories were tedious and annoying. I just replied disdainfully and left him to decide my mood all by himself…

I spend the whole day of Sunday very emotional and angry.

On Monday morning I woke up, brushed my teeth and headed to my employer’s home. I found the car he was driving but unluckily he wasn’t there himself. His little sister told me that he would only be back home after 3 in the afternoon. Without any waste of time I returned home, so that his parents could not lay an eye on me, not after the way I spoke to them the last time they saw me.

Soon enough from that day I frequented the road to my employer’s home but he was never at home. It was like he knew that I was coming and he left, leaving me confused and angry. But I kept on going; I wouldn’t just throw in the towel and lose my money.

One day I went over to his place and like many other days, he wasn’t there. Instead I found his father who asked me how much did his son owe me? I told him sternly that he owed me R400!

“Well, let me call him on his phone and hear his side of the story,” said my employer’s father. He called his son and they spoke for about two minutes on the phone. After hanging up he went inside the house and came out again with a R50 note in his left hand. He gave me the R50 and told me that I would get the rest from his dear arrogant son.

I refused to take the R50 and told him again disdainfully that I wanted my money in full, and not in halves. After saying that, I left and slammed the gate to show my anger. I was being disrespectful to my employer’s father for the second time. It didn’t worry me because the things I said to him revealed the anger and hatred I had towards his son and even him for that matter. He was just an arrogant man who didn’t care about other people’s needs.

The saddest part of this all was that I never received my money from his son… But I’ve had my retribution. Today his son is a nyaope addict who’s not even afraid to ask me for R5 whenever he sees me in the shopping complex.


Tell us what you think: What would you have done to get your money from these people?