My South Africa

My friend Lindsay had to go to home affairs yesterday to sort out some paperwork for her newborn baby. Right when she left she called me to share a funny experience. It was too classic not to pass on…

Like may institutions in South Africa, as you enter Home Affairs you have to go through a big medal detector, after you have handed over your wallet, cell phone, keys, loose coins, and bags to the security guard, and before you risk a possible search and or “wanding” by the next security guard. It’s pretty standard practice. Everyone is used to it by now.

So my friend Lindsay was waiting in line for her opportunity to walk through the plastic-gateway-to-where-ever, but the line was being held up by the gentleman in front of her. He was scruffy, unkempt, possibly homeless, pretty dirty, maybe in his mid-fifties, and just had the general look of having been beat down by life. The man walked through the medal detector and it beeped. The security guard motioned for him to walk back through to the other side, whilst reiterating the need for the man to empty his pockets.

Pretty agitated at this point, the man said, “I don’t HAVE a cell phone, wallet or keys!” as he threw his hands into the air. The security guard insisted that something was setting off the detector. At that note, totally frustrated with the bureaucracy of Home Affairs “cell phone, wallet and keys checking system”, the man reached in his pants, pulled out an object, threw his other hand in the air as if to say “this is no big deal and it’s definitely not a cell phone, wallet, keys, or coins”, and huffed, “All I have is this!” as if to prove his point that the security guard was being ridiculous, and possibly even discriminating against a poor man who has nothing, cruelly rubbing it in that he does not own a set of keys or a cell or a stuffed wallet.

At this point Lindsay looked at the item the man was holding and she could not hold back her laughter.

The item that set off the medal detector was a six-inch butcher knife.

I love this country!!


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