Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Deparment of Home Affairs - And the Moaners

Okay so today I went to pick up my South African passport at the Department of Home Affairs in Wynberg. I had applied for it about 10 weeks ago. Last time I went in, which was about a week ago, my passport was not there but they assured me it was on its way and I could pick it up the following week.

Of course I was concerned it would not arrive in time as I am leaving for the USA on the 6th. None the less, I took their word for it and returned this week. And, with much relief, got my passport. Phew!!! Crises averted.

But, what inspired me to sit down and write this blog post was the people sitting around me and bitching. I mean, complaining about waiting and the slow service and the fact that they had landed up sitting in the wrong section for an hour only to find out they had to get in a different line.

I have dealt with beauracracy for many, many years. I had to navigate the US immigration system. Let me tell you that was hell. I used to get up at 4am to drive to the nearest office, and sit outside until 8am when they opened the doors. Waiting and waiting - no water, no cell phones and no food allowed. That sucked. But, I got my green card, and after 12 years got my US passport. No easy feat.

One thing I learned was that there was no point in bitching or complaining. It was only gonna stress myself out and piss off the people behind the counter that were generally trying to help.

Come on now South African's stop complaining. Everyone, all the bloody time, complaining about this and that. About how bad the service at this department was, how slow this process was. This attitude just sucks - and it is annoying.

I guess my point is that everyone's complaining and negative attitude about these things in reality has nothing to do with South Africa as a nation-state, but has everything to do with the attitude of the individuals. I know this because I have heard people bitching in other parts of the world - where, in the USA, if you are a citizen it take 2 to 4 weeks to get a passport. That is pretty darn efficient but it is a pain to apply for - very specific photographs, huge amounts of very specific documents etc.

What I am confused by is what everyone is comparing South Africa too? Where did they get this impression that South Africa is so bad? Is there something in the water? Is it a legacy of Apartheid? The food people eat? Anyone got any ideas?

It is so strange for me. Because, when my wife and I decided to return to South Africa it was because we were inspired by the space. That it was filled with opportunities and is exciting and interseting. In fact the vast majority, in fact everyone that I know who has visited this country, feel that is an incredible place. They all want to come back, live here and play.

South African's you need to wake up and realize that you live in a wonderful place - filled with its own problems - but certainly nothing we can't ultimately overcome. The better your attitude the better the experience the better the space and the more chance of us all coming together and building an even greater country.

And, those people at the Department of Home Affairs - they deserve a good pat on the back for workign hard and trying to get it all sorted out. In fact, they even volunteer on Saturdays so that the office can be open for those of you that have to work.

Be positive!!! Stay positive!!! And, it will all be so much more pleasant an experience for you and those around you.

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