People who say that South Africans are angry, are, to a certain extent correct. South Africans are unnecessarily angry. Most of the time too. I don't like grouping myself with the angry collective although at times, like today, I seem to fail to restrain myself and fall into anger mismanagement. This afternoon driving south on Margaret Mncadi Embankment (for those who don't what road that is, step your name change game up), slowly approaching Stalwart Simelane road, a truck came from the middle lane, drove straight into the driver and back doors. After that the truck continued trying to bull doze its way into the desired lane not aware of my vehicle obstructing its way. When the driver finally decided to stop the whole right side to my vehicle was dented and scratched. Door handle broken as well. Surprisingly at this point I was not angry at all. Just highly irascible. I'm late for work as it is and here, now, I have to deal with a trivial and avoidable situation.
My harping on about what the truck driver has done didn't solve anything. So I changed my strategy and decided to gather some of his personal and employment details. While doing this simple exercise, in the middle of a busy street, a car with three older, white gentlemen, stopped right next to me. The driver of that car decided to say "yes, it was your fault", pointing to me. He continued, "He was going that way, you were going in the wrong direction and ran into his truck", that's when I retorted with a sharp, emphatic, terse, "Excuse me." At that point he realised that I was not amused, at all. What followed was a "No man, I was just pulling your leg", a laugh from all the occupants, a smile from me, and the tension was diffused. To further engage me he asked in which direction the new airport was. I promptly directed him and they went along.
I realised after that that my reaction was toally unwarranted. There was no need to direct my frustration at him. Even if he was being facetious, a perfect gentleman would engage on his level or respond in jest to his banter. This led to me questioning myself as to why I seemed to have a short fuse in the midst of adversity. A short temper when faced with tough situations. After all it was just someone passing a comment. I always pride myself in looking the other way. Turning the other cheek. I strive to do this all the time. Today, however, I failed and I'm not proud of that. I always, and I say this with assurance, I always treat visitors from out of town with a lot more courtesy because, they are visitors, they do not know the area and, need everyones' help navigating their way around. The car driven by those gentlemen was licensed GP, meaning it was from out of town. The truck driver was a foreigner, a Swazi national. At the end of the day while writing out the police report we were making small conversation. Me telling him about the people I know from Swaziland. And him telling me about his family and his origins.
To be well dressed is not only an outside thing. It should definitely be accompanied by impeccable manners. This was a lesson well learnt today.
* Taken from Professor Alice Walker: Steve Biko memorial lecture 2010.
PG: Man to man, generation to generation.