To say I was in culture shock when I first moved to South Africa is an understatement. I'm not sure if I was under-prepared, over-prepared, or completly mis-prepared.
I had studied a lot about this lovely country. I knew not to expect to see lions roaming the streets in Cape Town (unless they had just won the Curry Cup of course!) and that there were going to be lots of languages I didn't know.
I was aware that there was still a lot of racism and that we WOULD have indoor plumbing where Hubby Dearest lived (yes some places do not have this yet!).
I knew that if we got to go to a game park, I'd see lots of wild animals.
I knew that we could do grocery shopping, have cell phones, and banks. All in all...I figured it was going to be a lot like America.
Okay....I was wrong on SO many levels. But let's not dwell on that now.
I SAID NOT TO DWELL!
Through the fog of jet lag, and the silence of not knowing what everyone is saying all the time, my eyes slowly began to open to what I'd gotten myself into!
We originally lived in the sunny area of Durban in a little town called Amanzimtoti. I loved it here and enjoyed waking up to the beach EVERYDAY.
Oh yea....that was our view!
We relaxed in the sun, ate some amazing food, and I got used to the foreign beer.
What I couldn't get used to, however, quickly became my biggest EVER pet peeve.
There are many wrong ways to state this so I am going to do it in the most appropriate way for where I currently reside. If you become offended....well then stop reading OR get off your high horse and realize we live in different societies!
The black women (yes I said it because it is a fact....white women in this country don't do this because of the cultural differences!) openly breastfeed their children in public. When I say openly, I mean as in they do not bother to cover themselves. You will be walking through a mall and a woman will sit down on a bench and pull out her breast and pop it in her kids mouth like it is a plastic bottle.
I am pro-choice and love that more and more women are returning to giving breastfeeding a try. But jeeze, I don't like boobs hanging out all over the place.
In the privacy of my bedroom (or house) when it is just my kids and Hubby and I; breastfeeding LJ is a beautiful thing I can do.
However, as I'm standing behind a counter taking your pizza order....umm...
Hello. (I'm not looking at your boobs). What can I get you today? (I'm...not...looking as I force my eyes up)......Regardless of sexual preference or gender I cannot see how the fack it is possible not to look at a boob when it is staring you in the face...I don't want to look but its just right there....
(Fack...I looked...did she see me look....dammit I looked again....oh bloody hell put the darn thing away already!)
This is where my pet peeve began. I cannot stand it if a woman breastfeeds in public without covering herself up.
If you know anything about South Africa though, you will know that rascism is still VERY strong here. Beyond what you can imagine until you live here.
It was in 2009 when I got my first management job at a restaurant. With years experience as a waitress, I was excited and ready to go for this new position. I'd only been living in SA for 8 months. I ventured out on my own and stepped across the steaming, frying, greasy threshold into the world of management...duh duh duh!
It was exciting. I took to it naturally because in all actuality I was just a glorified everybody else. I still picked up a table now and then....my tip was just usually better ;-) I spoke with the guests and could linger a little longer around a table or two. I enjoyed the sense that I was 'entertaining' my guests.
Until...oh the fateful night.
It was month end....and a Friday. We had a line stretching across the South Indian Ocean and a two hour wait. I was in the very front of house which meant in addition to my 5 waitrons and 20 tables to care for, I had the que and the que manager on my case and the cashier station. It was fack busy.
It was a Blue Bulls game....go figure. I couldn't even watch my team pummel Hubby Dearests!
Right there...in the middle of a dinner rush...it happens.
The woman at table Canyon 3 whips out her breast and pops it in. I quickly glance around. I see the older woman across from her smirk as she sips her wine and the man directly next to her gives sideways glances my way.
I break into a mini sweat. I know this is the culture but this is a restaurant people. My body clenches up as I quickly access the best approach. I decide I'm the manager and they will be reasonable people.
I calmly approach the table. I ask how everything is going this evening and assure them that their steaks will only be a few more minutes (oh yes...I did check their order before going to them!) and ask if they'd like any more to drink.
They are pleased and say no thank you. Then....
Oh the horror....
I quietly lean in to the woman and explain gently in the most professional way that her breastfeeding her child in the dining room might possibly make other guests uncomfortable and that if she'd like we have a wonderful sitting place in the rest rooms where she can feed comfortably and relaxed.....
I will save you all the gory details because this ended with my culture shocked shell in tears.
The husband, boyfriend, baby daddy uncle whoever he was screamed at me almost instantaneously. My GM came running. I was called a racist and a womanizer who was infringing on her rights.
There was swearing in Zulu and more racism talk. I was escorted to the back office and the guests were given their meal for free.
The next day...THE VERY NEXT FRACKIN DAY....head office phones. We've recieved a complaint on me. (As a manager this is the worst...it drops your monthly score and screws you for bonus!) The situation was explained to head office...but the best part....
The guests complained that the GM and I were talking about them in Afrikaans. Let me just clarify that after 4 years here I am only now speaking Afrikaans. At that point I couldn't understand two words put together in the language let alone carry on a DARN conversation in the language!....
Which leads me to my next pet peeve....RACISM and all its glory...
But I think we'll save that one for another day!
Did you like what you read....great!!! I'm so glad! Genuine...now clickity click that there button! Be a doll!! Do it once a day even!