Thursday, October 11, 2012

One of Those Days

If you are American, the first thing you will learn in moving to South Africa is that South Africa is not America (or any other nation, for that matter). This is a good thing. It can also, at times, be a very frustrating thing.

Yesterday I went to the Post Office to mail a parcel. I am used to long queues; that's just part of life here. I was not prepared for the signs all over the Post Office saying "Due to our new system, services will be slower." Aren't new systems generally supposed to be faster (unless, of course, we're talking about airport security)? When I finally got to the counter I was told, "No incoming or outgoing parcels until the strike is over." I sort of wish they had had a sign indicating as much, to save me the long wait. Or is this the "new system"? Hey, it really IS slower!

I next went to the grocery store. When I got to the till (and only after the employee had scanned all of my items and I had given her cash) the employee said, "I don't have change; I can't help you."

My final errand was to the chemist. I stood in another long queue. Every time the queue inched forward the woman behind me would step on my shoes. She wasn't trying to annoy me; she just comes from a culture where the definition of "personal space" is quite different from mine.

I confess, I wanted to complain. I almost phoned Dan to tell him I was having an "I'm not coping with life in South Africa" day, but then it dawned on me: I like it here. I don't enjoy long queues or inefficiency, but I am learning to smile about it, make the best of it, and move on with my day because the truth is, there is more to love and embrace than to find fault with.


Chessalee said...

Welcome to 'Africa' - I want to say. :) I was in Pretoria the past 11 days -wish I had your address to pay you a visit - such a special person. I travelled via Kenya[Nairobi] and experienced the same and thought, well, it's Africa, isn't it? - but, it was NOT like that years ago, you surely hit SA the wrong time, but you do get used to it, or should I say, you have to accept it. Africa has its own time for everything.

Anna said...

Oh, I would have loved to meet you! If you're ever in Pretoria again, message me and we'll arrrange to meet!

I still love South Africa, of course. Just had a "bad" day, though in the big picture I have nothing to complain about!

Chessalee said...

Next time, promise! - if you mail me your details.

Anna said...