I made it back from Lephalale with no scars so that's good, but an interesting thing happened that reminded me of the importance of knowing your target market.
I'm not altruistic, but I am very superstitious; I'm a big believer in karma. Because of this I almost always give money to beggars when they ask for it. I have a few exceptions, mostly children, which might seem strange but often parents send their children out to beg when they could be in school so if they are successful they will continue to send them out to beg. I feel it's important for them to not be successful. I know there are exceptions to this, but I work better with rules when it comes to making decisions such as this.
So, we were in the parking lot of one of Lephalale's malls and I was just getting in the car when I saw a white man approaching me. I knew he was a beggar and prepared to get money out of my handbag. Then he did an unfortunate thing; he began to talk.
He starts by saying that he has problems keeping jobs because he has a very low tolerance for laziness. When he's hired as a supervisor (apparently that is the only job he can get) he can't deal with the blacks who like to take two hour lunches since they're so lazy so he always gets fired.
Now this was a perfect case of him not knowing his market. He assumed that since I was white, I was in his tribe- his tribe of whiny, white people who want to blame all of their woes on the lazy blacks who are now in control of things. He thought by laying his problems at the feet of the blacks who are busy messing up beautiful South Africa for all the good, hard-working whiteys, I, being of his tribe, would pop out some money. He seriously miscalculated his target market.
I pulled my hand out of my handbag - empty- and told him I wouldn't be giving him any money that day, or any other for that matter, since I didn't much care for racism of any hue. I got in the car leaving him in the middle of the parking lot ranting about how he wasn't racist. I few passing people took time to look at me and look at him and listen to the conversation.
Now if this white beggar was clever, he might have engaged some of the passer-bys in a short conversation about what ensued. Quickly he would have got their position and then he could refine his spiel and likely come out ahead - not only a victim of black empowerment, but now publicly ridiculed by some white, communist sympathiser from over the border. He may very well have made out better in the long run.
So our lesson today, students? Knowing your market and targeting your pitch makes all the difference when it comes to success.