Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Worry Wart

As mentioned in my blog last week, one of my Canadian friends is visiting South Africa for a month.

Even though I know my friend is a smart and capable man… oh my word, now I know 10% of what it must be like to be a parent!  The worry is terrible!

When I picked him up from the Gautrain in Park Station last week, he’d wandered off to the wrong parking lot so I spent half an hour running back and forth between the two station entrances, wondering where he could have gone in the 3 minutes since he’d phoned to tell me he’d arrived.

“Oh god, he couldn’t have been abducted that quickly, could he?”

Then today he wanted to go on an adventure on his own, determined to use 100% mass transit.

Oh no oh no oh no oh no oh no.

How can I dissuade him when I’ve already laughed casually about standing on the road, waving down minibus taxis, and asking “How do I get to Hillbrow from here?”  When I offered him my car, saying that I’d take transit instead?  When I continually advocate the minibuses and exclaim how incredibly friendly and helpful people have been to me? 

“Are you going to use the city buses?” I asked.

“Not sure yet,” he replied.

“Ok.  Because I haven’t used a metro bus yet, so I’m not sure how they work.  They’re probably quite straightforward though,” I babbled in my anxiety.

“Please be careful,” I said over and over again.

“Please text me at noon to let me know you’re still alive.”

“Make sure you come home before it gets dark.”

“Are you sure I can’t give you a ride anywhere this morning?”

He probably didn’t want to accept a ride because he was tired of my nervous nattering!

He thinks that I’m silly to worry because he’s a man, after all, and therefore he thinks that he’s safer to travel the city alone than I’ve been in the 7 months that I’ve lived here.  I, however, don’t know if I agree with that.  As a young attractive woman, people are unbelievably nice to me.  Strangers often go out of their way to try to make my life easier.  Locals automatically become protective to ensure that I stay safe in their big, bad city.

Take driving as an example.  When I drive, other drivers go out of their way to move over or let me go first.  When he drives, they ignore him or cut him off.

Maybe I’m more at risk, but I also think that my general experience is friendlier and more welcoming.

On the other hand, he’s traveled before.  Rationally, I know that he’ll be fine.  Irrationally, though, I keep glancing at my phone to make sure I haven’t missed any calls or texts. 

Yarg.  The worry is terrible!

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