Well this morning I made a sudden discovery of just how much I am rubbing off on Tabuche. But before I explain that I need to backtrack to fill in some history.
Last week my relationship with Tabuche rose to a whole new level. You see Peter and Jetske and Lawrence aren’t the only ones taking such good care of me. In order to be a princess at this level, it takes a whole entire team which I think I now have all of the bases covered.
At home, I have Peter and Jetske who cater to my whims….there is a little back-biting in the lodging ranks as Miss America (or #3) in Peter speak feels that I am monopolizing Peter’s talents – Tabuche supports me advocating for myself so take that Adrienne, #3!
At work, I have Lawrence – bless him. He has never failed me and can be totally counted on to assist me not only with work related stuff but personal as well, including helping me mail packages back home. No request goes unattended to and he always seems willing to assist me with whatever I ask of him. Except he refused to adopt a homeless very young and tiny black fluffy kitten yesterday! And he is so adorable, he even holds my hand when we are crossing a street or going into a building. Although I am not sure what he would ever do if he actually witnessed me falling flat on my face or behind. Still the gesture is so wonderful.
And finally, there is Tabuche. I know I have droned on about him but spending time with him is truly a highlight of my day. In fact he has told me that he feels exactly the same way. And yesterday he even said that he would take the kitten if it was a male (unfortunately it is female, oh well still looking for a home).
As I was saying early, our friendship progressed to a whole new level last week. Tabuche’s day of driving mostly foreigners around starts at 6:00 am or earlier. He then does not knock off work until 10 pm when he goes to bed. He also works six days a week so he is a busy man. Last week when he would drop me off in the morning, I told him that I would call him to come get me those nights that I was ready to leave by 10 pm.
The first night was a piece of cake as I actually left around 9 pm (only to come home and work for several more hours) and when I called, Tabuche was only 10 minutes away doing pick ups and drop offs by a hotel nearby.
The next night it was a different story. I called him to arrange pick up just before 10 pm but I also gave him the option of not coming as I could get a drive home with someone else. No, he assured me. He would come. And come he did, in his slippers. You see, Tabuche dresses very nicely every day. In fact I often wonder how he does it. Dressed in a dress shirt and pants driving around in a hot vehicle all day. But you never see him ruffled or wrinkled. So imagine my surprise to see him dressed in very causal attire and wearing slippers. When I asked if he was home not working, he replied yes, he was watching a football (soccer) game. I then asked why he didn’t send one of his other drivers to pick me up instead (he runs a whole entire company of drivers)? His very succinct reply was he was not done his job until I was home safe and sound. In the next breathe he also told me that I was working way too hard and needed to stop working because the work is always going to be there…smart man, isn’t he?
So that brings us to Friday night’s pick up. The motel where our AGM was held is located in a village called Tlokweng. It is still Gaborone as far as I am concerned but it seems to be a whole different planet. First of all, to take a taxi there it is double the price each way, although my fee to Tabuche never changes. The villages here are still run by Chiefs, a hereditary position passed down to the oldest son (although, because Tabuche and I discuss women’s rights all of the time, he was able to reassure me that there are some women Chiefs as well). So all of this sets the stage for what happened next.
I get into the car Friday night thankful to be going home and that the AGM was over and done with. As I got into the car, I noticed that Tabuche had the radio on to a football (soccer) match and was listening. Normally he has a talk radio station on which he switches to music so he can make me dance while he is driving. Being exhausted I was ready to settle quietly down for the drive home while he listened to his game. But Tabuche wasn’t having any of that! When I said that I would be quiet, he actually scolded me and said that he preferred it when I talked to him as it made the drive home faster and more pleasant.
So I cracked the joke that he needed to rush me home so I could hit the pool (another frequent topic of our discussions on the way home) as he had pointed out that other than Sunday’s dip after arriving home from Kasane, I hadn’t been in the pool for almost two weeks. Just as I cracked the joke, Tabuche sped through the lights that were changing to red. To avoid the traffic that time of night, Tabuche then turned off onto a quieter back access road that would bypass most buildings and all of the traffic.
We were not on that road two minutes when Tabuche indicated that he was being pulled over by the police. So off to the side of the road we went and out Tabuche got to go back to speak to the police officers in the truck behind us. When he came back to get his license and something else he told me that he was being fined for running a red light. Of course I felt guilty for joking about getting home fast and protective of Tabuche. I just wanted to get out of the car and go back to tell the officers off. Luckily I had enough sense to stay in the car. After about 15 minutes, he came back to the car and opened the glove compartment. Out of it he took 100 pula and with a little smile and wink he returned to the police truck behind us. It turns out that all it takes here to make a 1000 pula fine go away is a 100 pula bribe!
When we were back on our way, Tabuche reassured me that he is frequently stopped and goes through this identical process. It has just never happened while I was in the car. It seems that the police here pick their targets very well. When they see a taxi driver with what appears to be a foreigner, who of course all have money, being driven around, they automatically assume that the taxi driver is over charging them and they want their share of the profits. Commerce at its best!
So I have been teasing Tabuche ever since. You see during the rush hour traffic when he is driving me to and from work there are often police officers directing traffic at traffic circles and major intersections. In fact, we have one traffic circle where we can always tell if it is the male or female police officer directing the traffic. If the traffic is really backed up, it is the male. If everything is running fairly smoothly, it is the female officer, except for when she is having a bad day. It happens! See I told, Tabuche and I discuss women’s roles and rights all of the time. So for the last two mornings as we approached intersections with a red light but motioned through by the police officer, I grin and say are you sure you shouldn’t stop!
This morning, the discussion focussed on how the police here really are your friends! Tabuche explained that if you are being robbed or in trouble, you can count on them to assist you. I retorted, friends don’t bribe you! That caused much laughter and further clarification on his behalf, which made him forget where he was delivering me too…I was going to the FHI office downtown for meetings. Instead, he to the turn off to take me to WUSC. I know, it is difficult for him to keep track of where I am going some days! So as we were driving by the WUSC office and bantering back and forth, a dog and it’s owner passed in front of us. The dog was missing its left back leg but was ably hopping along ( I could identify!).
Just as we passed by it as it was progressing onto the sidewalk, Tabuche looked at me with a straight face and said “I guess that it is what you call a three wheel drive”. I was still laughing when I walked through the doors of FHI five minutes later. I have turned a serious, respectful Batswana man into a comedian with an ironic sense of humor! That is an accomplishment to be proud of and a miracle as the Batswana do not know the meaning of irony or sarcasmism. I am just happy that I am capacity building both inside the office and outside! Hopefully I don’t ruin Tabuche all together. He is far too nice of a man for that.