One thing I absolutely love about South Africa is that they seem to have some legal common sense here. At least when you come from America, the differences are striking. I hate to dredge up the much cited cat-in-the-microwave or too-hot-McDonald’s-coffee cases, but these are precisely examples of how you can go way overboard in trying to protect the consumer. I have no idea how consumers are protected her in South Africa, and frankly, I don’t care. I just love that you get to do things, pronto, without much fanfare.
Fore example, here in South Africa:
- There will be one sign at the entrance of the Lion Park warning you not to roll down your car window when driving through. No indemnity form, and no other signs explaining what might happen if you do roll down your window (but we all know the stories of the Japanese tourists who didn’t heed the warning and got eaten by lions as a result).
- You will spend precisely 3 minutes at the doctor’s office filling out a form with your address and kids’ names and birth dates. You will do this once, because from your first visit on they’ll have it in their system and just add each child as you visit again. No disclaimers and multiple forms allowing for this and that notification to be sent to this and that person under this and that circumstance.
- You will have some students visiting from Germany and they will be going to school with your kids and they will be allowed, even encouraged, to fill in on the sports team without much ado.
- When you go canoeing on the Zambezi River (okay, not South Africa, but the same is probably true for most of Africa), you might be very concerned about crocodiles, while your guide will be much more concerned about hippos (who are much deadlier than crocodiles); but instead of giving you an indemnity form, he will tell you about the dangers of hippos and what to do in case you get too close to one.
- A child will fall off the monkey bars at school and break his arm, and – lo and behold – the school will NOT forbid the use of the monkey bars in all eternity. Another child will twist her ankle running around at recess, and yet playing tag will continue to flourish and in fact be encouraged by teachers who know that running around is an important part of a kid’s school day.
- When you drive through Pilanesberg National Park, you will be warned to be respectful of elephants and not anger them, because they are stronger than you; but you will be allowed to drive through the park on your own and suffer the consequences of not listening: