Getting someone on my side
It’s almost enough to stop me going out when he’s there – I don’t like having to deal with that obvious sort of unfriendliness. But, being manipulated by someone like that is stupid (and weak) so I dealt with it another way - I talked to him.
‘Are you South African?’ I asked.
‘No, I’m not,’ he said. Still no break in the taciturn façade.
‘Oh, Australian, maybe?’ He mumbles enough to confuse even me as to what accent he has.
‘No, I suppose you could call it colonial,’ he said. ‘I moved to Rhodesia when I was very young then, for many years, I was in South Africa. I’ve been here a long time now so I’m not sure what accent I have.’
Definitely South African but I didn’t contradict him.
‘I’m South African,’ I said, ‘but I’m originally from Mozambique.’
Suddenly there was a change in his attitude and he smiled. It also opened up a floodgate – if it hadn’t been for someone else wanting to get through the door, I’d still be there hearing him reminisce about ‘the old days’.
I’ve broken the ice now and I’ve seen him smile. It remains to be seen if he’ll be less grumpy about letting me in and out of the building in future.