One of the more amusing moments of the planning process came when stories about the infamous World Cup stab vests hit the news. (If you missed it: a London-based company, capitalizing on fears of safety in South Africa, marketed a “stab-proof vest” to World Cup attendees.)
I received more than a few links about the stab vests forwarded to me by friends – some concerned, some amused – in the days that followed. The situation created an opportunity to explain the reality behind the fear mongering. If nothing else, the stab vest uproar gave me the platform to convince a few acquaintances that the perception of South Africa as dangerously unfit for tourists is largely overblown.
As well as a chance to laugh at my (Canadian) boss and my (Canadian) coworker.
Boss: Well, you certainly can’t get the American flag on the front of your stab vest! You don’t want ‘em to know that you’re American!
Me: We won’t actually be buying a stab vest.
Boss: You could get the Irish flag. You look Irish.
Me: Ireland didn’t actually qualify? So I’m not sure I could get the Irish flag on my stab vest? The stab vest that I’m not buying.
Boss: No, Switzerland! Switzerland, of course. Switzerland is neutral. You should get a neutral Switzerland stab vest.
Boss: True! We could teach you how to be Canadian. We can tutor you!
Me: We won’t be getting a Canadian stab vest.
Coworker: You won’t need a stab vest! We’ll get you a Molson t-shirt.
Boss: And a Tim Horton’s t-shirt.
Coworker: And some things from Roots.
Boss: We can work on your vocabulary.
Coworker: Tell people you’re from Trahna.
Boss: Get that? Not To-ron-to. Trah-na.
Coworker: When you’re going to the bar, say “let’s get some beers.”
Boss: Not beer. Not singular. That’s the key.
And that, friends, is how to stay safe in South Africa. Not beer. Beers. And throw on some red and white while you’re at it.
You’re welcome for saving your life.