Weekly Thoughts 30 August 2013

My thoughts this week don’t hold much financial advice. They are more about a conversational experience I had on Tuesday.

I had just seen a client in Howick and had stopped off at a little restaurant in the area for a toasted sandwich for lunch while I worked on wrapping up what I had just done. Pretending to mind my own business, I could not help overhearing three men who were sitting nearby. I must paint the picture, for no ulterior motive other than it is important to set the scene:

There were two middle-age men, one an Indian guy and one a white Afrikaans guy, as well as an elderly black man. Yours truly made up the fourth person in the room, the white middle-aged Englishman. Then the waitress serving us all was a young, white Afrikaans lady. The whole rainbow was there. I discovered that the three men were all part of the local police force’s detective branch.

It all started because I couldn’t help butting in and adding my two cents worth and asking a question or two. The elderly black man had retired nine months ago and was still waiting for his first pension payment from the Government Employees’ Pension Fund. The waitress was asking them for help because she felt she had been defrauded by the trustees of a trust she was a beneficiary of.

The white cop looked across the room and asked me what I was doing in the corner typing on my computer while talking to them. He told me that I must close my computer and come and sit with them. Which I did. It was a most informative and delightful time. I offered some suggestions to the elderly guy to get his pension payments moving and also asked the waitress about her situation. But these men, as different as any group could be, were to the same degree as closely knit as any group could be. The middle-aged guys had just used the retired detective as a witness in court. But they had an amazing bond between them, of guys that had done much over time. Much hard stuff. They also had great concern for their own police force, citing favouritism due to tribalism and nepotism in the force as a problem. This was interesting but at the same time concerning to hear. We parted with them wanting my card, something I don’t have, and them telling me to look them up if I was ever in need of an honest detective.

I felt for the retired guy though. You’re not supposed to give 40 years of your working life to an entity and then struggle to get your pension.