The $30,000 Paycheque: a new South African Urban Legend?

Heard from a friend at a braai, that a friend of his, a highly-qualified cellular telcoms techie, had been offered a job by a telco in the Gulf. He was tempted, and when they asked him what his earnings expectations were, he said he was earning 30k a month in South Africa.

The prospective employers were a bit taken aback, that figure being way over their budget.

But the guy said he was paid a premium because he was one of very few people in the country who could do the kind of high-level work he was doing. So they signed him on, saying the best they could do was match his salary.

He took up the positon in the Gulf, and at the end of the first month, he got his first paycheque. For 30k, all right…but in US Dollars.

My friend swears this is true, and who am I to argue?

After all, I once saw a very nice William Kentridge original at a gallery in Joburg, and when I asked the gallery-owner what it was going for, he said “ten thousand”. I thought that was a very good price – almost unbelievably good for a Kentridge, in fact.

So I phoned a gallery-owner I know in Cape Town, and he, equally incredulous, said he’d check. He called me back a few minutes later to say he’d called the gallery, and yes, 10,000 was the right price. As in 10,000 US Dollars, at a time when the rate was about R13 to $1. I did not buy the Kentridge, I’m afraid.




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