Sunday, August 16, 2009

the hazards of living...anywhere

Anger. Towards humanity. Frustration. At myself. The desire to punch a small African man in the face. Fire coming out of my mouth, singeing those around me (mostly Jason) with ugly words. This is how I felt Friday afternoon after my iPod was stolen. I walked out of the post office and a small man startled me by shoving a plastic bag towards me and asking if I wanted to buy something. He was so close he freaked me out so I told him no and that he shouldn't sneak up on people. A moment later I felt inside the outside pocket of my bag and realized my mistake. But it was already too late and when I turned around the little man was nowhere in site. Jason was across the street and felt the heat when I stormed to the car cursing myself for being so stupid and angry at the man for taking something that clearly didn't belong to him. I even marched back across the street to storm around for a few minutes looking for this small non descript African man, knowing full well that I didn't get a good enough look. But a pink leather iPod case isn't too hard to miss so I was at least going to look for someone that was manhandling something like that. Of course no dice so back to the car, where Jason again felt the heat of my anger until a few tears rolled down my cheeks because that's usually how my anger ends up manifesting itself.

As I typed the word 'iPod', I know it sounds silly to get up in arms about the luxury of it. I am happy that it wasn't my phone or my wallet or something that is a bit harder to live without. But it was mine, given to me by a good friend. My original iPod, that my brother sweetly bought for me, died while I was in Peace Corps. I tried to save some of my resettling allowance to replace it but after taking care of a few other things, I couldn't really justify buying one. Both my sister and my best friend Elysia happened to have old nanos lying around and they each gave me one. So at one point I actually had 2 iPod's, talk about luxury. While I was putting one to good use, I gave one to my friend to use. He had no kind of music listening device and it was just silly that one of my iPod's was collecting dust. So then this little, non descript, African man decides that he's going to invade my personal space and take something I really appreciate having on a daily basis. I'm kicking myself for leaving it in that pocket. I had a fleeting thought it wasn't the best place for it but I'm always on my guard, my bag close to my side and with my game face on. You know, the one that says 'don't mess with me I'm on a mission and I'll be mean if you do'.

At our next post office stop, I had to wait in quiet a long queue (that's what they call it here, not line). It was way past lunch so clearly I was getting to the cranky stage but there was a really nice man behind me that struck up a conversation. The usual inquiries about where I'm from, how long have I lived here, do I like it, etc. Of course I was a little bit more bitter and told him that I love the country but I was pick pocketed earlier and feeling a bit jaded. Of course I know that this can happen anywhere and it doesn't mean that South Africa is bad. It's not, plus this man was so nice, I couldn't help but have my faith in humanity restored. He even told me a story about when he lived in New York for a year he and a friend got mugged. He being from Africa, took the tough guy route and told the guys to shove off but his friend didn't and they took his wallet. Anyway, point of the story being that this kind of thing happens anywhere and I really did feel much better after talking to him.

So I thank the man with the kind soul at the Pinetown post office. Where ever you happen to be at the moment I am sending good thoughts and vibes your way. And to the small non descript African man, I hope karma comes around and bites you in the ass. I just wish I could see it when it does.

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