Friday, September 13, 2013

Being brave

Petrol (gas station) attendandants are striking across South Africa at the moment, and unlike Americans, South Africans are unaccustomed to self-service. This week, not being very in touch with the news, I pulled up and it took me a second to remember why the station was deserted. A moment passed, and my regular attendant, William, came over in plain clothes and offered to serve me. I asked "is this ok for you?" because not striking can be life-threatening here in South Africa. He answered "I'm here as a private citizen". I usually get annoyed with him because he is so thorough that he takes what feels like an eternity in baby time, but today I was struck by this everyday act of bravery. It is possible that those who are striking are also being brave, and also possible that he was being brave for reasons I don't fully understand. But he treated me with dignity and respect and did not have any expectations of me, and I was so grateful.

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