Saturday, July 21, 2007

In South Africa??

Returning to SA I've found myself doing my old thing of being super aware of people around me. It's a learnt response to the threat of theft or mugging or hijacking. That's not to say that there is a massive threat (I don't think it's much worse than in London, for example), but that by being aware you can prevent a lot of stuff from happening to you. Anyway, today, stopped at the traffic light (robot, to Saffas) I saw the most amazing thing!

At most traffic lights, there is a range of services available to you - hawkers selling everything under the sun, people washing your windscreen, etc. So as I pulled up, I saw the car in the adjacent lane was having its windscreen washed. And then... the driver asked the window washer to open his boot and pass him his sweat-shirt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As we say in SA - slaan my dood! Blow me down with a feather! I did a double-take. At first, I thought I was watching a robbery in action, then I realised that the driver had requested this action. I couldn't believe it! I couldn't believe that a) he'd been driving around with his boot open if there was stuff in it; b) that he'd asked someone to rummage in there for him; c) that the guy had done as asked without taking anything else out (pickpocketing is a major problem in SA)! I just couldn't believe it.

And then I found myself wondering at my own attitude. Isn't it sad that my attitude is one that expects the worst? Isn't it sad that crime in cities is so bad that my attitude is warranted?! As the lights changed, I drove off in a daze, and even now I'm not sure what to make of what I saw. I don't know whether to be pleased that there are still people in this city who trust others to that extent (and therefore be encouraged and hopeful for our future) or bemused at one very stupid and naive individual. I never thought I would see something like that in SA in this day and age!
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