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The Perishable Pundit Visits South Africa
Dispatch IV: Seeing The Future
From Across The Pond

 

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, August 31, 2006

In continuation of yesterday’s review of a day in London’s newspapers:

Back in The Guardian, a columnist by the name of Simon Hoggart visited America. Those foreigners report the darndest things. For example:

“It may be the little things in America that make most of it such an attractive place. Friendly service in shops, where your arrival to buy things is not regarded as a gross intrusion on the assistants’ day. The hospitality is wonderful and taken for granted. You no more ask for a beer or a soda from the fridge than you would beg permission to visit the loo.”

Who’d have thunk it?

Anyway, this columnist goes on to speak in praise of diners:

“…next morning we drove to Georgetown, a nice old part-colonial town where we found Theo’s, a diner that was serving the traditional breakfast, with pancakes, waffles, eggs over easy, eggs benedict, home fries, hash, plus jugs of coffee and juice. What was so appealing was there: men in overalls, businesswomen with laptops, mums who’d just dropped the children off at school, a pair of lawyers in suits and ties. It’s a gathering place. And right now, with the low dollar, prices are silly: a heaping meal for four cost less than £15 [the equivalent of $29 US].

Spend only a few days in South Africa and you realize the blessings we share in America go well beyond the legalistic or material ones, and one very great blessing is our easy comfort with people of different economic situations. We are democratic in America in a way that goes far beyond the way we share our votes.

There are plenty of rich guys in America who have fallen in love, married, and had children with their one-time waitress, bartender, hairdresser, etc. Here in South Africa, there is a social and cultural gap that runs concurrent with economic status, which makes that type of interchange very difficult. In America, we are blessed in ways we do not fully appreciate.

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