If I have been less than attentive in August, I feel l have valid justification. I made it 10 months abroad without any major drama, but as soon as I entered the month of August, Cape Town ferociously rejected me. Luckily, most of my struggles had happy endings.
At the beginning of July, I was given a phone that was a dramatic improvement from my previous two phones (yes one of my old, crappy phones was already stolen). I actually had internet access, WhatsApp, AND a keyboard to type!
Unfortunately, August took me by storm, and my fancy new phone was stolen the first day of the month. However, I am partially to blame: I was negligent and walked down a slightly dodgy street just before dark (with a friend of course). I went to a market after work to buy my weekly veggies and carelessly placed my phone in my long vest pocket. The phone was easy to see and grab while I was distracted with my hands full of groceries. Long story short, it took 6 trips to 4 different stores to get a new SIM card. After a 24 hour effort, I finally was able to lock my old SIM card and get my former number and airtime. However, I did have to go to the trouble of changing all my passwords to make sure no one could access my mobile accounts. Luckily, the phone stolen was a free gift anyways and I had crappy phone #2 waiting in the wings to be utilized again.
My week/month continued on a decline when my debit card was swallowed by an ATM. Yes, this is an actually phenomena and yes that is the technical term Standard Bank uses to identify when your card has been kidnapped by an ATM and will not be removed until regular business hours. After speaking to a bank employee at the emergency help desk number, their solution for me was to cancel my one and only access to cash and have my worthless, canceled debit card given back to me on Monday. I was told that this was my only opinion since the bank was not liable for any fraud and no one would be able to assist me before start of business Monday. Of course, this was inaccurate information. I received a call the next day (Sunday) from an “ATM cash depositor” with my debit card. Later, my inquiry/complaint at the bank informed me that the sketchy-man-without-a-uniform-holding-my-debit-card-beside-a-cash-car is most probably a contracted employee. (Certainty when dealing with potential fraud is apparently overrated at this bank.) Anyways, said individual tells me that my card did not have to be canceled since I could have been assisted the day of the incident. With this incredibly helpful information, I take my card home to be shredded before I wait about a month for a new debit card. While this particular bank failed me at almost all levels, I was still able to persevere due to the kindness and generosity of my darling parents and dear friend Mmamohau, who acted as my personal bank for the month of August.
While the loss of my debit card was a moderate inconvenience, I wasn’t really in desperation until I absentmindedly left my wallet containing my credit card and driver licenses in a cab. I have been known to sabotage myself previously with the occasional misplacement of an important item, never to be found again. However, my timing was never more disastrous. Fortunately, I was able to regain the entire contents of my wallet after several days thanks to the honesty of Excite taxi driver, Lloyd. Additionally, my survival was entirely thanks to the ceaseless compassion of Mmamohau and my parents.
To bring a close to the month, I finally received my new debit card and ATM cards. On the same day, I rushed to the train station so that my father could activate my cards while my bank in the U.S. was still open. Apparently I was slightly too eager/aggressive, and managed to slip and half-fall between the train and the station platform in front of a full compartment of concerned commuters. The bad news was that my shins and khaki pants lost the good fight. The good news was that I still have both my legs since the friendly train waited to depart until I was safely out of the way. After the train left, I stood sulking, half-barefoot over my shoe that had fallen onto the train tracks while my friend left to find an official to retrieve it for me. Instead of the ever elusive metro rail official, my unlikely hero appeared as a random man walking by who casually jumped down, grabbed my shoe, hopped back onto the platform and nonchalantly walked away without saying a word… fairly comical moment in midst of my temporary agony. Sadly, my pain was all for nothing since I missed my train and still easily made it home in time to activate my cards.
While I experienced some of my greatest adversities in August, those difficult burdens were significantly lightened through the kindness, generosity, and compassion of others. Thank goodness August is out of sight for another 12 months!