Friday, September 24, 2010

Surprising Honesty

Crime in South Africa is part of daily life. "Have you been mugged yet?" is a common question to new volunteers. When I told a local resident that I had been robbed within three weeks of arriving in country, his response was, "Well, you've received a traditional South African welcome."

Due to the high crime rate, most people keep their money and valuables well hidden at all times. The one exception to this is when traveling on taxis. Sometimes passengers pre-pay the driver. This is common when traveling a long distance. Occasionally passengers pay the driver when they arrive at their destination, as I do when going to my shopping town, but most frequently passengers begin rummaging for money when the taxi hits the road. Whatever money they have, passengers pass up to the people sitting next to the driver, who count the money and determine how much change to send back. This money is passed through the taxi and delivered to those to whom it is owed. This system works marvelously well. For a country where theft is routine, it will never cease to amaze me that total strangers on taxis trust each other so completely that they have no problem handing over great wads of money and expecting exact change. Perhaps being in such close quarters encourages honesty. Whatever it is, it is a refreshing change.

No comments:

Post a Comment