A Day At The Office


This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, March 24, 2004 was originally posted on March 27, 2004.

DAY 158:  If there was one thing worse than being mugged at knifepoint, it was the long arduous task of getting back on track after the fact.  With plenty of telephone calls to make (picture below), e-mails to send and forms to fill out, the whole ordeal was more work than at a corporate office job.  I swear at some point I had to submit a T.P.S. report somewhere.  If I had known beforehand that I was going to be mugged, I would have tried to pencil in the assailant two weeks prior when the office wasn’t so busy and there was a bit of downtime.

It was the fourth day since my replacement bank card was sent from the States.  Citibank said up to three days, and I was optimistic it’d arrive at the backpackers that day.  I called Citibank to track my package and the guy told me that it already had arrived in the city of Cape Town via DHL.

For maximum production efficiency, I multi-tasked all day like the guy in the office who normally meets all his deadlines.  First, I checked e-mails to find out the bad news that my travel insurance didn’t cover any of my lost items because it wasn’t the fault of an airline carrier.  (I would have had to shown proof that I went through all the channels at the airline first before making a claim.)  I went downtown to cash some travelers’ checks since I was low on funds, and tried to reorganize my flights out of Namibia since, being in Cape Town an extra week waiting for my bank card to arrive totally fucked my entire schedule.  The travel agency I went to called British Airways and told me the tickets were issued in a way that only the original agent could change them.  My agent at Airtreks.com was in San Francisco — ten inconvenient time zones behind — so I had no immediate recourse but to just send him an e-mail.

With negotiations in the works to get out of Namibia by plane, I still had to figure out how to get to Namibia.  With a new wallet in my pocket, I was back at The Backpack to sort out my bus to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital.  Since my bank card hadn’t yet arrived and I was scheduled to leave Cape Town via bus the next day, Mary the Oracle at the tour desk suggested to be on the safe side and reschedule the bus for the next available on Sunday, so I wouldn’t be out R395 if I missed the Friday morning one.  Chances are, she said, if I got my card in time, I could possibly still change back to the Friday bus.

IF YOU’VE EVER WORKED IN A CORPORATE ENVIRONMENT, you know that there are just those days when you are so overwhelmed (or bored) with work that you just say, “Fuck it, I’m talking a 2-3 hour lunch.”  I was feeling that way on my “work day” and walked down to the Two Oceans Aquarium to unwind and at least do something cool on my mid-day break.  I had arrived just in time for lunchtime in the big predator tank, where pieces of tuna and squid were dropped from above in the pool of manta rays, ragged-tooth sharks, turtles and other marine beings.

My visit to the aquarium was just okay for an extended lunch; I wasn’t too enthralled with the sharks, jellyfish, penguins and seals in their pools and tanks since I had already seen them in their natural habitats.  However, the one thing that did put a smile on my face was the clownfish and sea anenome tank, reminiscent of 2003’s Finding Nemo.  I was so enthralled by the cute little sea environment that immediately after I went out for sushi.

Feasting on the characters of the Disney/Pixar computer-animated feature, I felt optimistic that it was my last seafood dish in seafood-a-plenty Cape Town.  I had a good feeling that I’d go right back to the hostel, receive my bank card, call the bus company to reschedule my bus back to the following morning and finally get out of Cape Town.  Other than the feeling of being there way too long, I really wanted to leave when, after bumping into Verona and Birgit (from the Bok Bus Garden Route Adventure tour), I heard that Birgit was mugged with a knife to her back just a couple hours prior in broad daylight when she was at a bank’s outdoor ATM machine — in front of a security guard no less!

BACK AT THE OFFICE, my bank card still hadn’t arrived from DHL.  I called DHL’s Cape Town division to try and track it down with the number Citibank gave me that morning.  It was nowhere to be found, even with sweeping the DHL system by my names.  Basel, the friendly DHL agent on the phone, asked me to double-check with Citibank on the tracking number because it didn’t seem to be one of theirs.

“This is Citibank customer service, Dana speaking.  How can I help you today?”

“Hi.  How are you.  I’ve called this number many times before.  Can you just transfer me over to the banking department?”  (I didn’t want to explain my whole story to the wrong person yet another time.)

“Please hold on, while I try and get them for you.”

I finally got a hold of a customer service rep that could help me and brought her up to date on the past events.  She did a search on the card for me.

“Let’s see… 74 New Castle Street… ” she said, typing on her computer.

“No, 74 New Church Street.”

“New Church Street?”

“Yeah, I don’t even know if there is a New Castle Street.”

With the mistake in the address, she told me the only thing she could do was issue another card to the correct address — and with the weekend in the middle, it would take a whole week to arrive in Cape Town.

My heart sank.  I explained, trying not to sound too whiny, that I had already been stuck waiting for it a week.  “The guy this morning said it was already in Cape Town,” I said.  “Surely there must be a way I can get to it.”

“What’s the tracking number you have?”

“One nine four nine oh six…”

“No, nine one four nine oh six…” she corrected me.  She double-checked and confirmed that it was in fact a DHL tracking number.

I CALLED BACK BASEL at DHL with the correct number and he found it right away.  However, it was past delivery times for the day.  Basel tried to get a supervisor to possibly run it over on his way home, but — yeah, right — what underpaid DHL employee would want to do that?  The package was scheduled to be delivered in the morning, but from my experience, that meant a window of 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m., and I was trying to get on a 9:30 a.m. bus.

“What time does the office open in the morning?”

“Seven thirty.”

“If I can commit to being there at 7:30, can you make sure it doesn’t end up on a truck?”

Basel made it so and I made a reservation for a taxi the next morning at 7:15.

LIKE MANY OFFICE EMPLOYEES AROUND THE WORLD feeling burned out after a hard day’s work, I went off to the local bar “for one,” which everyone in corporate America knows is at least three.  At least. Sitting at the bar with Irish Sean and newcomer Finnish girl Pilvi, I was feeling confident that everything would work out:  I’d get to DHL and get the card at 7:30, be back at the hostel at 8:30, pay my bill, change my Sunday bus to that morning and hop on that bus bound to my next adventure by 10 a.m.  Others weren’t so sure.

“So I’ll see you tomorrow,” David from Manchester joked. 

“I think you’re going to make it,” San Diego Sean said.

“Place your bets everybody!” I said.

That night I didn’t stay at the bar too late for I knew that I had to get up early the next morning and go to work all over again.

Next entry: Mugged Again

Previous entry: The Changing Of The Group

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “A Day At The Office”

  • Erik - you look so pissed in those photos!  I can feel your frustration.  Geesh.  Sounds like your getting stonewalled no matter where you turn.  I’m sending good vibes you way!

    Posted by Liz  on  03/27  at  05:02 AM

  • i’ll take your day at the office over mine….

    hope everything works out!

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/27  at  01:10 PM

  • I think somebody needs telepathic fondling… hehe. I second LIZ’s motion and am sending good vibes… and a little fondling.

    Good luck buddy!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/27  at  07:45 PM

  • Um… yeah…. did you get the memo on the T.P.S. report? Yeah…. I’m going to need you to get the corrected cover page to me ASAP… Ok Yeah….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/28  at  01:51 PM

  • The penguin with the cool feathered hair must have been at least a little cool, no?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/30  at  03:36 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
Mugged Again

Previous entry:
The Changing Of The Group


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