This is a very nice story entitled "They don't take credit cards in Ladismith" by Gus Silver which we found reading through a magazine.
I had always known there was a little town called Ladismith, which I had naturally assumed to be an incorrect spelling of Ladysmith. the town with the proper spelling, of course is in north-west KwaZulu-Natal.
The town with the slight mistake, I can now reveal, is in the Klein Karoo region of the Western Cape province, just off the R62 between Montagu and Calitzdorp. It is a long way, and at some point you have to stop to fill up and get something to eat. So we stopped in Ladismith.
I strolled across the road (from a petrol station)... and walked into a shop called Karoo Vine...I wasn't really looking to buy. I just wanted to stretch my legs a little. The lady behind the counter looked up and greeted me with a tra-la-la of the purest Afrikaans I had heard in a long time. "Vriendelike welkom Meneer," she said, sticking prices on goods with slim, elegant fingers, "En hoe gaan dit met U vandag?" I was taken aback for a moment, because the default in-store greeting in the city where I come from is an icy glare and a thin-lipped nod that lets you know you've just been profiled as a potential shoplifter. then I regained my composure and answered in the purest Afrikaans I could muster.
"Nee dit gaan baie goed dankie, Mevrou, en Met U?
We had a brief conversation and I felt like buying something after all. I picked a packet of droe perskes and a dried peach roll and some Karoo biltong... the lady smiled her thanks and added up the tally, which was R54 exactly, I handed her my credit card. Her shoulders sank, and she sadly shook her head.
"O, ek is jammer, Meneer, maar ons neem nie kaartjies nie." she pointed at a small sign saying Jammer Geen Kaarte No Cards accepted on the side of the cash register. I did not have cash on me, so I smiled my apologies and turned around to put the goods back on the shelves. then she quickly added: "Maar U is baie welkom om met'n EFT te betaal Meneer." I suddenly forgot the Afrikaans for "really", and i said "really?" she laughed and said people who came to her shop from afar often paid her by Electronic Funds Transfer, and in all the time she had been running the shop, she had never once had someone not pay her after promising they would. "really?" I said. and she wrote down her bank details on a small piece of papaer, with R54 and her name was Elsa, and her cellphone number bellow. She wrapped up the perskes and peaches and the Biltong and wished me 'n wonderlike dag en 'n veilige reis verder.
I walked out into the main street of Ladismith, in the Klein Karoo, between Montagu and Calitzdorp, and I saw the rainbow flag flying, and the clouds passing overhead. and I thought to myself, this is a good place, with good people. and I wasn't just thinking of Ladismith.
In case you're wondering, yes, I did EFT Elsa the R54 when I got back to Johannesburg.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.