Thursday, October 15, 2009

One lesson too many...

The past one week’s been eventful in a way. Of course we do have an occasional chain of dramas, it just may not revolve around “moi”. A few days ago I read about a post from a junior way back in high school on Facebook.It was something about losing as family member. I responded and sent my empathies. It was a very short rendition What I didn’t know however was how close this relation was and the circumstances that surrounded the death. What I read implied a singular loss, when actually, there were two. The reason the other lost life wasn’t mentioned was because he/she wasn’t born yet. A former school mate was just bereaved, losing his new and young wife with a nine-month old pregnancy. Now that isn’t the kind of news you wan to hear everyday, not even ever. I was let in on it by another old friend. The medium of our conversation was the net and not a verbal one. This was why I couldn’t really display my shock and sympathy. On hearing this, I decided to see if par chance, I could get the phone number on FB and send a proper condolence. I didn’t find it.


A couple of days ago,hubby forwarded a message to my phone about someone being involved in a motor accident and breaking the left arm and leg. I called back immediately I read the message and asked who it was. He told me it was someone we know and would consider a friend being fellow Nigerians but resident in another province. I don’t know why it didn’t really hit me, but I realised it was probably because I hadn’t got the details. I wasn’t able to talk to the victim immediately as her number didn’t go through. So I did yesterday morning and got a shocker. The narration of how the accident happened was like watching a movie. It sounded exactly like what I see in the movies. I heard this from the horse’s mouth so it was neither fabrication nor exaggeration. Her fiancé was the hero who saved the day. Apparently they had been hit by a Car that just swerved off the road and their own Commercial taxi had stumbled like a stunt performance. Having foreseen the situation before the other passengers in the bus could, her fiancé held on to something while the bus stumbled to a stop and he pulled out everyone from the bus. He was alert and conscious. He was fortunate to leave that experience unscathed, while his fiancée left with a broken arm and leg. His 7-foot height had come in handy besides being a basketball player. When she told me she had surgery on Sunday, I couldn’t help but tell her I wasn’t thinking it was that bad. Sometimes, people use the wrong adjectives for qualifying things or events. For instance, a dislocation or a sprained ankle could be said to be broken. But I was glad she was able to talk properly, not displaying any form of discomfort or being in denial. I never doubted the strength of this young lady. She’s someone I admire for her relentless and hard work. She’s an independent and responsible young woman who knows what she wants and goes for it unlike what most women do here, being miles away from home; and from the scrutiny of families. Her sustenance had been put on hold. She needs time to heal and get back to doing things by herself. She’s got no other families here besides her fiancé. So she’s all alone at the hospital where she has to put up with the disgruntled, underpaid and unsympathetic nurses. I told her to bear whatever they threw at her while she focuses on getting better and out away from the hospital.

At the guest house however, we’ve had to put up with ungrateful customers who abuse privileges. The hospitality business has its peak and off periods, like most other businesses. But we’ve had a busy house since September and we thank God-it’s paying the bills even though there isn’t enough to go round for miscellaneous. And so it was that we had to offer our services to this middle-aged white woman, heavily pregnant and” homeless”. It wouldn’t be the first time. Apparently, she had been here before earlier in the year. But I didn’t meet her then and just got to meet with her recently. She looks balanced with a sense of wellbeing, but that was a hoax. This woman acts like a recovering junkie and she smokes like a chimney. Smoking isn’t a societal plaque here, it is a norm. So that’s no biggy! I told the staff we could be having problems with late payment as that’s usually the case with these druggies. What I wasn’t prepared for was theft. The first incident happened and it was resolved because everyone’s been compassionate towards this woman. She has a way of making people listen to her and feeling for her. And besides, it was only natural that one would feel this way since she was carrying a child and one could not help but consider the unborn baby when dealing with her. She took the microwave with her, without anyone’s consent or permission. We didn’t realize it was missing until she had gone out for the day. She brought it back claiming she’ borrowed’ it for use at some church function. Hubby said I should just give her a warning but let her stay instead of sending her away from the guest house.

She had told us (myself, the staff other guests) about her delivery date and we all believed her. I don’t think she lied about her delivery date. What she had blatantly and beautifully lied about was “who was taking up the responsibility” of the birth expense. I engaged in conversations with her occasionally and she kept repeating the same thing-that her mother was going to come around, be there with her at the hospital and was going to pay upfront for her accommodation at the guest house. This was just one of her numerous lies. While she had told me she was going to ask her daughter, a supposed hairdresser for money to pay for the two-nights she owed us in arrears, she had confided in another guest that her daughter was in a rehab. She had to tell a compelling story to get some sympathy because she borrowed some money from this guest. The bottom-line is, she played us all, every one of us. She had left again yesterday morning (14th of October) with the Microwave oven and the electric kettle and has eventually gone for good. Just before she left, I still had a talk with her and even asked if she’s got everything she needs for the arrival of the baby. I never saw anyone who was expecting a child in a couple of days without any baby wears. She was my first. I didn’t see it coming. Our staff had taken her off and that was why I was involved in things at the guest house than usual. She had it all planned out. She knew no one would suspect her again since we only gave her a slap on the wrist the first time. Still treated her well, gave her breakfast even while she was indebted to us and very well interacted with her in a nice manner. She gave no clue for anyone to be suspicious. In all honesty, I still didn’t trust her even when she returned the microwave oven the first time and I made this known to our staff. Junkies would do anything for money to get high. Since this lady wasn’t into drugs (at least not while she was here), she would obviously have to get the money somewhere else. So hubby said we shouldn’t alert the cops but just let it be. I am not even angry because she stole our goods and didn’t pay for the two nights she owed. I just feel used and foolish. She drove right past me and I had no idea she was stealing from us. We were all concerned about her welfare and had been nice towards her. And that’s just one of the things that goes on in SA. People rip you off, lie to you, steal from you and take advantage of you. We’ve only been in this business for a little less than three years and we’re learning more about crises and sacrifices. These things come with the territory as they say.

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