Saturday, March 24, 2012

The $1,200 Fill-Up

In some ways I consider this post to be my penance for being (at least for a short period of time) a complete moron.

I'll spare you the excruciating and very humbling details, but the big picture is we stopped yesterday at a Shell station in Mthatha for gas and a bathroom break. Once there I saw an ATM and went to get some cash.

When my experience was over not only did I not get any money out, but the two people behind me in the line managed to steal my bank card from the machine and were able to scam the $1,200 from our account.

(insert profanity here as I recall the incident)

What followed has been a frustrating and somewhat sleepless day and night. I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent. I am certainly aware of travelers being the targets of scams and I have been dealing with ATM's most of my life. But they still got me.

At least if I was fated to be robbed it is only my pride that got assaulted (and my bank account I guess). Our valuables are all still with us. No one got hurt. We made up lots of background stories about the thieves while driving to try and put some perspective and humor around the incident. At one point we were passed by a Porsche and we wondered if that was their car Probably stolen we figured as our cash wouldn't buy that kind of a ride.

We talked about anger, and how hanging onto it is not healthy. We talked about forgiveness. Were these 2 guys who needed to do this to provide for their families? Was this our "charity" donation to South Africa?

I know I need to let go and not have this spoil my time in a fantastic country. But I also know that I will never forget.



  1. How horrible, but as I always say "if that's the worst thing to happen all day I'll take it". But,.... it still totally sucks! I hope that it was necesarry to feed some starving ostrichs or something essential like that.

  2. Fudruckers!!!!!
    Oh well, now you've got another great story to tell (like you needed one like this!). Just think of it as the most expensive petrol on the trip so far. That way the prices this summer won't seem so bad. What was that, $40 per liter?

  3. It happens to the best of us. I lost my phone when I was in Lao. As long as you're healthy and safe that's all it matters. "Charity" is a good thing. You got a great education... and years later hopefully, it'll be a great story!

    -Carol Tse