So, as I mentioned before I have felt quite strange and foreign in this new country. Certain little things have made us look at each other and we either go “Okay, now that was really odd,” or they make us laugh at just how similar yet different this country is. They aren’t necessarily serious things, they are just little things that would normally go unnoticed, but when you’re experiencing the new things for the first time, even the little things seem big.
In South Africa any formal document is written and signed in black pen. This is a non-negotiable. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you filled out a form in home affairs or any other government building using a pen other than black, it would definitely not be accepted. However, we noticed when getting our drivers licenses that the pens at the desk were blue. We then went to the bank to open our bank account, and the banker was using a blue pen. Yup, the colour of choice in New Zealand seems to be blue.
As a pedestrian in South Africa when you approach a zebra crossing and stop. You would do the right thing and look left and right and left again before crossing the road. If a car was approaching you wouldn’t dare walk because what happens if they hadn’t seen you? Or worse, what would happen if they had seen you and they decide that their rush is more important and they are going to continue driving and ignore that you are standing at a zebra crossing. This is not the case in New Zealand. You approach the crossing, and walk. Not looking right and left and right again… you just cross.
I’m convinced that a man named Sam is the most important person in New Zealand, and by Sam I mean Safety Sam! He is everywhere. They are so safety conscious that I would go as far as to say that it is ridiculous and over the top. Simon has briefly considered going into business to make traffic cones. The Kiwi’s use at least 3 times more cones than the South Africans do. Sometimes when driving in SA you aren’t too sure if they cones have come to an end or if they have just put them out a bit too far from each other- you often just carry on driving in your current lane to make sure there are no more coming further up. The Kiwi’s however, make sure that the cones are so close to each other that they touch each other, no matter how long the stretch of road is that they are marking off.
Safety Sam also rears his head on the school playground. As a teacher on duty I have to wear a safety vest and wear a bag around my body with first aid equipment in, and pictures of each child that goes into anaphylactic shock should they come into contact with various things. Look, I get it. I get the bag, that’s pretty cool, but the safety vest! I feel like a traffic cone!
That’s all from me tonight. I’m sure there will be plenty more things that I will share with you along the way.