Saturday, October 9, 2010

Can't Complain, No One Will Listen

Shaka, subject of last week's attempted theft, stars again in this week's installment of South African Saturdays: Stories of Some Fortune but More Misfortune.

This week was time for Shaka's rabies shot. Like the good, responsible pet owner I do my best to be, I made an appointment at the vet's office for 10:30 this morning. Usually the taxi gets me to town by 9:30, 10:00 at the very latest. 10:30 seemed like a perfectly reasonable time. How foolish of me.

I got up early this morning, washed my hair and otherwise prepared myself for the trip to town. By 7 o'clock I was ready. I called my usual taxi driver. Usually he answers the phone with "Yes, yes, I am coming." Today, for the first time ever, he said "Sego, I'm sorry, not going today."

At first, I was undeterred. There were more taxis, right? Loopeng's got a few thousand people, surely some of them wanted to go to town today. I waited out front of my house for a taxi. By eight o'clock it was becoming increasingly obvious that no taxis were coming. Panic was growing.

"Don't worry," said my host sister, "Walk out to the main road by the sign and wait. A taxi will come."

Now, the place my host sister was referring to is nowhere near where I stay. It is almost as far away as you can get. It took me 24 minutes to walk there at a good clip. As it turns out, there was no need to hurry. I staked out a shady position near the sign and stood there.

I stood there for ten minutes, twenty, thirty, an hour. A bakkie went by, headed towards a cattle post. Another hour went by, a car went past going the opposite direction. A gogo comes out of her house lugging a chair for me. I guess I was a pretty sorry sight just standing there. I'm not sure sitting made me look any less pathetic, but it did make my wait marginally less uncomfortable.

At long last, a taxi came by. I climbed in, followed by two others. We were on our way!

The vet closed at noon. My feet hit the hot Kuruman pavement at 11:45. I practically broke into an instant run, or at least a rapid waddle in sandals and a dress. Shaka did his best, but I was practically dragging him. Until, suddenly, I wasn't.

I whipped around and came face to face with a man carrying Shaka and attempting to make an escape. Too bad I was still hanging onto the leash. I grabbed the dog out of his arms and promptly broke into a run.

I ran all the way across town to the vet's office, arriving minutes before closing. Shaka got his check-up and I forked over what little cash I had remaining (thank goodness the man who tried to relieve of my dog did not also reieve me of my wallet).

Now I still had to buy groceries and get enough cash out to pay the taxi fare home. This led to the Great ATM tour of Kuruman. The first two ATMs were out of cash, the next two claimed I had no funds (although their "check your balance" mechanism recognized that I did), a couple more had "technical difficulties". Finally, one was willing to dispense cash. Too bad it was not enough cash. I bought my groceries, but I was R20 short for the taxi home.

What's a girl to do?

I tried more ATMs. I got more rejections. I tried cash back. Still more rejections. Finally, at Shoprite, there was a ray of light. After a cashier called over her manager to help solve my card problem, she took pity on me and just slipped me R20 out of her own pay. It was such a wonderful gesture for which I am truly grateful. I would not be writing this from the taxi if it were not for her. I might have been reduced to selling Shaka for cash.

I guess that's what's so great about South Africa. Sure, nothing actually works, but someone's always there to help you out of whatever pinch you're in.

Ah, drunken citizenry on the taxi. Easily my least favorite part of the day.

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