Give ’em a break

It had been nearly an hour since we walked to the road and impatience was showing – James was throwing rocks, I was singing to .38 Special and Hannah was tangled in a glaze. The only taxi to come our way was crammed with people and we were forced to wait. Wait, wait.

It was just after 11. It’s often a two-hour trek between Hannah’s and my village. Once in a taxi from her village I have to stop at a junction, where I’ve waited an hour before, and find another taxi to my village (PS, Hannah is my closest neighbor, if that tells you how far out there I am). I had hoped to get there before the post office closes at 1 p.m. to pick up a package. I have 1-9 win-loss record with the post offices and banks in Africa so I was sure I wouldn’t make it. Then, coming down the hill nearly a mile a way, there was a white box-shaped taxi. Two, actually.

They both hit our standing spot at the same time and as I walked to the emptier one the conductor of the first waved him off, basically saying, “These are mine.” I tried to exclaim back that the other one was less full, meaning more comfortable for us, but he didn’t have it. The car zoomed off, and the three of us were to squeeze into a 15-seat van that already had 14 passengers.

I was angry. “You are greedy,” I snarled at him. Hannah and I shared a seat while James had to stand, which is far from legal and safe. “O batla chelete haholo,” I hissed, which means “You want money too much.”

Less than 800 meters later, the taxi stops and at least four passengers got off and we each had a seat for the duration of our trip. Also, I got another ride quickly at the junction and made it to the post office at 12:45 p.m.

Hannah gently reminded me that if I had more patience I wouldn’t have felt the need to blow up at the taxi conductor, which I felt bad about later. Yes, I know patience is practically a synonym of Peace Corps, but it’s sometimes hard to get past the surface of situations and realize there is something deeper.

There is one particular person in my village that I’ve been struggling with. I often find this person lazy, unmotivated and careless and have already deemed him worthless to my service efforts. It’s frustrating because this villager is one that is supposed to help and guide me and I was let down. (Sorry for the vagueness but I want to protect the party involved.)

One Saturday morning this villager was passing my house and saw me outside washing dishes and decided to pay a visit. Our chat was friendly, even nice. We talked about several parts of work and life and a piece of information was revealed that changed my outlook. I had been judging this person, looking only on the outside, and didn’t realize what was actually going on. Instantly, I was ashamed at all the curse words I said about this person under my breath and to other volunteers. I thought I understood, but I really didn’t.

It seems like I often react to the first sign of trouble and I fail to recognize that there could be more to the story. There is always more to the story. I do need more patience and I need to learn to give people a break. My lack of patience and hot temper are two areas in my life that I am working on, and struggling with, here in Lesotho.

Yet, the other lesson is that I need to give myself a break. So I yelled at the taxi conductor and it didn’t feel good. I’ll know next time. And when I see the villager again I will have a new respect for that person and try to focus on the good things done despite the situation, not the bad.

The amazing thing about Peace Corps is that you don’t learn more about the world, you learn more about people. I am truly learning.

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2 thoughts on “Give ’em a break

  1. I should embroider this whole post on a pillow or carry it on my person every day. Thank you for this.

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