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Cape Town Diary. Part 5. 10 May 09

Phil Oct 2008

Give a generous tip!

Our next beach visit is to a most idyllic looking place called Camps Bay.
As we arrive, another smiling ‘security guard’ waves us into a position I was going to park in anyway. Once out of the car, he gives me the customary nod that activates an unspoken contract of business between us. The beach is golden sand and surfer waves and gives no reason to move anywhere else for the rest of the day.
As the sun begins to fall, we choose a restaurant on the seafront road where a friendly waiter takes time to describe the different kinds of fish on offer. He doesn’t seek to push us into buying anything more expensive than we would and brings out a heater when the temperature drops.

The transition between day and night is much faster than England and we’re really glad of the heat as we sit outside on a veranda watching the rise of the moon and the last traces of gold as the sun sinks beyond the mountains.

At the end of the meal – shock horror – I decide to tip the waiter more than I normally would. There is a natural hospitality about him, a generosity of spirit and unassuming character.


He spent time at our table and engaged us all in conversation, even though there were other people to serve. It’s always thrilling when qualities of Jesus leap out of people. How often I forget what Jesus is like, always patient and kind, slow to anger and quick to forgive. The crowds flocked to him and those who experienced his sheer goodness loved him to bits.

Even when it was uncomfortable, the magnetism still remained. Peter considered his purity and drew back, exclaiming, “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man.” A sinful woman washed his feet with expensive oil, knowing her own position before him. Truly meeting Jesus involves recognition of personal evil. At first you draw back, realising he is too good for you, but then you see that he hasn’t budged an inch. You thought you’d be sent packing but instead there’s a big smile on his face and an outstretched hand. “Come and tell me about yourself and let me tell you about who I am and the difference I can make.”

Later on, when back at our apartment, the grim discovery hits me that I’ve left the camera at the restaurant. It’s my good one and all the photos of Table Mountain are on it. I left it by my chair and someone passing by on the road has probably just reached over and taken it. Even worse, maybe the nice waiter has stolen it. But perhaps it’s still there. Yesterday Simba the ‘poor’ security man told me 50 Rand was creeping out of my pocket. Also on the beach I saw a black ‘hawker’ tell a white man that he had left his jacket behind. I hated the way the man responded with an almost irritated gratitude at being approached. It made me wonder who is truly poor in South Africa. Maybe the waiter is honest like Simba and has kept the camera at the restaurant in case I return?

Next morning, Heather seems not too bothered. She says she prayed about it in the night and God said, “Don’t worry, the camera’s safe.”
So we drive back over and sure enough, the man smiles at seeing me and reaches out from under the counter. “I raced up the road to try and find you” he said, “but you must have left pretty quickly.”

We did indeed but now I’m grinning all over. That tip I gave last night was probably the most generous I have ever given and I just find it so funny. It seems God spotted the generosity and retaliated. These people who I am meeting do not have much in terms of possessions but what they do have is dignity.

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