Back when we were doing the show, we spent every day worrying about money. We all got those stinking ESL jobs and someone (almost always Matt) had more hours, worked harder and kept something like a travel budget for us. We would decide on some round number that was more or less arbitrary and promise never to spend more than that in a day (luckily, rollovers were allowed and we had a separate allowance for special events and trips and stuff).
YOU’RE ALWAYS HUNGRY because that extra plate of noodles is just too expensive and you need money for dinner.
YOU CHEAT ON THINGS. Like girls or beer. Meaning that at about the middle of the week, you (I) run out of money and have to eat half as much and bum money off of people.
YOU (I) SUCK AT BUDGETING. I can’t seem to do it.
YOU SPEND ENTIRE DAYS WATCHING PEOPLE DO AWESOME THINGS THAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO DO. I call this the Shibuya Rule. In Japan, on a good day we had cash to go to Shibuya, buy Chu-His (tall cans, kinda) and stand and watch people buying things.
If anything is a Jet Set Zero secret, this is it. Living like that is so hard that you often don’t find any value in it at the time. Really. In retrospect, it’s awesome. At the time, it’s mostly painful and hungry. We’ve had so many people come through this experience who just couldn’t do it, or refused to try. I think it’s a good character test.
I LOVE LIVING THIS WAY cause I love the fight. I love the hunger and the pain and the thinking on your feet and not knowing whether you’ll make it or you’ll need to write that email begging for money to come home because you can’t feed yourself or you may end up in jail tomorrow for something you knew you shouldn’t have done.
But I wanted to try this kind of experience without having to struggle every day. I wanted to see what this life would be like if you actually could order that extra plate of noodles, or stay in a hotel, or – hell, why not – get a dive certification or rent a dirt bike for a weekend.
So that’s more or less what I’m doing.
I make about $36k/yr after taxes, which is more than I’ve ever had in my life. I really enjoy my work and I’m extremely lucky to have the coworkers and boss that I do, and in my lack of professional experience, it almost seems like a miracle that I earn a paycheck every two weeks. The money goes out, but it also comes back, amen.
South Africa has the world’s highest murder rate — 50 murders per day.
Actually, this is super real right now as me and the old lady are stranded in a partially functioning VW bus with dubious locks.
At an abandoned gas station.
In a city with one of the highest rates of unemployment and incredible illiteracy.
But this is a story for another time. I have to stay to some kind of narrative timeline here and I wanted to talk about crime and killing people and all that mushy stuff.
Shoot to Kill
Crime here is so bad that South African police have a sort-of unofficial “Shoot to Kill” policy. This is easy to situation to sensationalize and soapbox over, so fuck that. Let’s just say that the criminal procedures code prevented police from using deadly force except when necessary. But you get this: “When criminals are cornered, they take out guns. They don’t warn, they kill, and many police have died as a result of that.” So they decided to push through legislation in the opposite direction.
Put more bluntly, “Shoot the bastards.” (Both quotes SA Deputy Police Minister).