Hey Woolies, you’re either morons, assholes or sociopaths

Ideas

Hey Woolies, you’re either morons, assholes or sociopaths

The baby carrier saga saw Woolworths caught red-handed, helping themselves to other people’s stuff

Columnist


The ANC and Woolworths. One is a huge moneymaking enterprise, blindly supported by millions no matter what, that seems to have no qualms about stealing things. The other is the ruling party of SA.
I’m exaggerating, of course. Woolworths isn’t premised on theft, unless you’re talking about their salads which, if the price is any indication, are grown in mulch made of ground-up Stradivarius violins and watered with the tears of the middle class.
Still, this week both Woolies and the ANC were caught red-handed, helping themselves to other people’s stuff.
For the ANC, this is nothing new. They’ve been nicking stuff since Sarafina 2 was just a twinkle in Mbongeni Ngema’s bank account. Which means nobody was surprised when it emerged that they had pilfered a DA election poster to use as their own. And to be fair, one photograph is hardly the R100bn-and-change they helped steal over the past 10 years.
Woolworths, however, is another story. It’s been seven years since they were caught plagiarising anything (remember Frankie’s ginger beer?), or six if you agreed with artist Euodia Roets that they copied her hummingbird design for cushion covers. Which is why some devotees were shocked when one Shannon McLaughlin accused them of having copied and pasted her design for a baby carrier.
The matter has now been laid to rest. Woolworths has admitted that there were “striking similarities” between the two products, which is how corporations say that two things are identical down to a cellular level, and has withdrawn its clone of McLaughlin’s carrier.
It has also vowed to “strengthen internal processes”, which, I assume, means that in future they’ll only copy products made by people who aren’t on social media.
But it also got me wondering about the practicalities of human resources after a fiasco like this. I mean, what exactly gets said, and to whom, and with what expression?
I’m sure the details are more complicated and banal than I’m setting out here, but in essence what happened was that someone from Woolworths ordered McLaughlin’s baby carrier, had it delivered to their head office in June 2017, where someone in authority approved the theft of intellectual property. After that, the stolen product was approved for mass production in China, and here we are.
Now, I understand the basic – or base – instinct governing that decision. It is unclear whether McLaughlin had copyrighted her product. For a large corporation selling high-end quasi-bespoke goodies to rich people, the possibly un-copyrighted baby carrier must have been red meat in a shark tank.
But what I don’t understand is how they thought they wouldn’t get caught.
I mean, when the carrier was unwrapped at Woolies HQ, and someone said: “Hey you guys, we should totally steal this from Shannon McLaughlin!”, and someone else said: “Geez! Great idea!”, what was everyone thinking?
The way I see it, if you’re going to steal someone’s product and sell it in one of the biggest shops in SA, your brain is going in one of three directions.
The first is that you don’t think you’ll get caught. This means you are a criminal moron.
The second is that you think you might get caught but you’re confident that Woolies will make it all go away. This means you’re a criminal asshole.
The third is that you know you’ll be caught but it won’t matter because it wasn’t fully copyrighted so it’s not theft. This means you’re a criminal asshole who is also probably a sociopath.
So, Woolies? Which was it? Criminal moron, criminal asshole or sociopath? And if it was the asshole sociopath, is that the same person who suggested that you wrap individual vegetables in plastic just to remind those fucking whales and sea turtles who really owns this planet?
I doubt anyone is going to get fired, but if the guilty parties are still nervous, I’d like to end with a reassuring word.
Guys, don’t worry. If Woolies gives you the boot, you’ve got a glorious career ahead of you in the ANC.

This article is reserved for registered Times Select readers.
Simply register at no cost to proceed. If you've already registered, sign in below.

Times Select

Already registered on TimesLIVE, BusinessLIVE or SowetanLIVE? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.