Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Undoing Prejudices And Stereotypes

Don't expect anyone to return stuff you lost or left behind in Bolivia, we are warned repeatedly.

3 Bolivian heroes – a cashier, a taxi driver and a security guard - successfully challenged this stereotype.

My son left his spectacles in a restaurant. We returned the next day to retrieve it. It seemed ridiculous to even try. There was nothing to lose anyway. I approached the cashier and explained the situation. She looked at me suspiciously and asked us to describe the spectacles. My son said the rim was white.

She opened the drawer below her desk, fished out my son's spectacles and asked him, is this it?

Elijah, my son, happily said, yes.

Two days later, I asked a taxi to deliver my son's expensive shoes to his school; he was taking part in a rehearsal for a play and needed the shoes to get into the character he was playing. Clear instructions were given to the taxi driver. The shoes never arrived. Elijah, with his adolescent hormones on overdrive, was hopping mad. We were very anxious. We called for a meeting with the taxi driver. He swore that the security guard at the school took the shoes and had promised to give them to Elijah.

Did the taxi driver simply make up the story and steal the shoes? Maybe the security guard stole them?

In Bolivia everyone is a thief until proven innocent! (oh dear...Lord have mercy on us when thoughts, similar to this cross our minds)

The next day was May 1st, a public holiday. All the schools were closed. So the taxi driver and I went to Elijah’s school on the 2nd. We quickly found out that he had mistakenly gone to another school and not my son’s. The miracle however was that the security guard from the other school kept the shoes safely in a locker. He had not given it to anyone and was waiting for the owners to turn up. We took the shoes, thanked the security guard and left. The taxi driver heaved a sigh of relief. He, visibly sweating from anxiety, apologised for the trouble. No podia dormir toda la noche pensando en los zapatos (I could not sleep the whole night thinking about the shoes).

I was happily surprised not only by the security guard’s honesty but also the taxi driver’s willingness to apologise and take responsibility for the mistake.

So these are my Bolivian heroes: a cashier, a taxi driver and a security guard. God bless em all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes these are honest folks. Your son would have been so relieved his prayers were answered.