Friday, 31 January 2014

Life is lonely as an expat

I'm currently in Dubai, on holiday, Hubby is working and now we are child free I've tagged along, spending the days on the beach at the pool and ascending the World's tallest Tower the Burj Khalifa and generally just switching off and relaxing.

I'm sceptical about this visit, I feel there's an ulterior motive, one which could involve a possible relocation and I'm determined not to enjoy myself. However as an expat in South Africa, I now view the world very differently, every trip, holiday is viewed as 'what would it be like to live here?'

I don't want to leave South Africa, I love the country and I've made some very good friends, I have my volunteer work which takes me out and about, I love being able to get in my car and drive for a few minutes to a nature reserve to view game, I love the outdoor life. But I'm not happy there, not really. I don't have my freedom in a way that I want and I'm unable to work due to visa restrictions.

This week in Dubai has been an eye opener for me, it has made me realise what is missing from my life. I have friends, but they don't understand me, not the difficulties we've had, but my sense of humour, what a raised eye brow means and how the importance of a cup of tea and a chin wag can be the perfect intervention.

No one strikes up a conversation in a coffee shop, no one gives you that look that says a thousand words when you both see something out of the ordinary. I know very few expats in South Africa, I chose to stay away from the community and once people realise you either a) don't work or b) play golf they lose interest in you.

In Dubai the country is littered with foreign accents, tourists and expats, you can't differentiate between them. There doesn't appear to be an expat community, people just live and work here. Maybe because Dubai is a large expat community and that's why.

People ask if the chair is taken and join you at the table to drink their coffee, exchanging pleasantries, make eye contact on the train, the bus. There is free wi fi in the malls, public areas, public transport, hail a taxi in the street, no security. I can leave the hotel and walk around without fear in open space.

Things I didn't realise I missed but knew something wasn't quite right. South Africa is a lonely place if you're not from there.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

When you live life as an Expat, holidays take on a different meaning

‘come away from the lady, she’s reading her book and doesn’t want you bothering her’
I could carry on reading my book and ignore the other woman, or I could smile at her and tell her that her son isn’t really bothering me.
But before I can make a decision she is on her feet on her way over to fetch her son, so now I have to make eye contact and possibly smile.
What this woman doesn’t know is she’s just saved me from public humiliation, I’m not reading my book, I’m staring blankly at the pages, behind my sun glasses, trying not to cry.
Last night a colleagues of my hubby, after a full day of meetings said she envied me, sitting on the beach in Dubai, catching the sun, reading and switching my brain off, I just nodded, said ‘yes I was having a lovely time.
I’m sure people in hubbies company have been well briefed on what response they are likely to get if they ask me if I enjoy living in South Africa. If only they’d leave it like that and I’d reply ‘I love South Africa’ and we could all move on, but they’ve heard titbits and want more ‘did the move go smoothly? Would you do it again? Bet you’re enjoying the sun, not having to work, your freedom now the kids have gone.
It’s the same with family and friends, I smile through gritted teeth, they want the drama, to hear the truth, but they don’t want to deal with it, they can’t, they haven’t been there and they seem to think I’m attention seeking, it’s not THAT bad, how can it be compared to their lives of work, the cold and the hassles with kids, work.
For fear of adding ‘spoilt bitch’ to the list, I was sitting on the beach this morning, did I mention in Dubai? When my emotions took over. No it’s not the time of the month, no I’m not missing the kids where I feel ready to pack it all in and return to the UK (a common occurrence for expats) I just looked out to sea (past the 24/7 building sites that are everywhere) to Palm Island and wondered how the hell I got to be here.
Yes travel is lovely, I’ve certainly done a fair bit of it and probably a lot more than most people (expats excluded) I know, but I don’t really want to be here, it’s not what I had planned, it wasn’t future dream to sit all day in a *hotel, on my own, in an exotic location while my hubby goes to work. I’m supposed to still have one child at home instead of him being at boarding school in the UK, I’m supposed to be see the 3 older boys, 19, 21 and 24 randomly when they visit to drop off their washing, ask for money or pop in on their way to see their mates, but they can hardly do that when we live in different hemispheres. I’m supposed to be in a full time career, climbing the ladder and earning some serious dosh by now, but my visa doesn’t permit working in SA.
So when that woman came over and apologised for her son making a noise, I smiled, said not to worry, he was just being a boy, offered her the sun bed next to me and asked her about her life, she too is an expat, feeling isolated, lonely and out of her depth.

*I haven’t been isolated to the Hotel, I spent yesterday exploring Dubai on foot. I walked nearly 10kmms according to Google Maps and my feet are so blistered I could only manage the beach today.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Travelling Light, currency, plugs and other tips

I know many people who buy new clothes, shoes, make up when they go on holiday (Mother) and pack an iron, hairdryer and 2 full sets of clothes, just in case, every toiletry item they think they’ll ever need and end up bringing most of it back unworn and/or unused.
I’ve known people to pack coffee, crisps, nappies and even blocks of cheese as they’re going somewhere new and foreign and are afraid they won’t get a few of their ‘home’ comforts while they’re away for a fortnights break.
There’s a big difference though between being a tourist and an expat, once an expat you’ll NEVER holiday or travel like a tourist again, trust me.
As an expat I’m a regular flyer, back and forth between South Africa and the UK, I however DON’T travel light, with all the family, 5 kids, 2 mums, a dad, siblings, nephews and nieces etc along with friends, my case is ALWAYS full of gifts and a ‘little touch of home’ for some South African friends, there is often little room left for clothing and I tend to pack bulkier stuff as after all I’m travelling to a colder climate. I do have a store of items I leave at my mums, that I’d never wear back in SA, winter coats, thermals, etc. However, this does leave room in my case for the return trip, where I stock up on the ‘home comforts’ such as tea bags, make up and aubergine pickle and pick up Summer sale items of clothing for wearing back in SA.
I’m currently on holiday in Dubai, just a holiday for me, hubby is working and we are extending the stay for a few days, so he has packed work clothes and leisure ware, including a suit that found it’s way into my suitcase. Hmmmmmmm
This trip I’ve only packed for me. I won’t be buying souvenirs or trinkets, in fact I won’t be buying much with the exchange rate as it is, other than a thank you gift, from the airport as we leave for my friend for dog and cat sitting for the week.
My case only weighs 19kg was extremely out of shape, hubbies suit took a battering, and when plastic wrapped to guard against theft at OR Tambo it and most of that is in the form of toiletries, half bottles of stuff such as shower gels and shampoos to use up, although believe it or not, most hotels these days do provide things like this without additional charge.

There are a few things I can NEVER travel without and these are all hand luggage items. For starters it’s a ‘no, no’ to pack anything of value in hold baggage, especially coming out of South Africa.

  •   Laptop, charger, Iphone and cables.

·         Plug adapter to convert from South African to British, Plugs in Dubai and at most airports use British plugs.

 Although I do have a laptop cable that has a British plug also.

·         Cable ties – for return to South Africa to use on the cases.
·         Luggage tags x 2. One used with destination and another with home address to use on return. (Don’t want people at the airport when you’re leaving to see where you’ve come from and that the property is going to be empty for a while)
·         Eye mask and inflatable pillow, not just to use on the plane, but whilst waiting for transfer, the bus and taxi ride to the hotel also.
·         Ear phones, preferably noise reduction for the plane, iphone etc.
·         Spare cell/mobile phone and charger, in case of theft and I also have 2 South African SIMS and 2 British SIMS, as I’ve discovered my SA SIMs on PAYG don’t work in Dubai. Roaming and cellular data switched off the second one boards the plane.
·         Bank cards, South African and British, already had one card declined when checking in at the hotel.
·         Local Currency, not a lot but at least enough to buy a coffee and tip the porter. I’ve always found a few pound coins help for tips, especially in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia and don’t be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ to someone offering to help with your cases at the airport. I chased a thief for hubbies passport, end of last year, who helped himself when ‘helping’ us.

·         Medical aid card or Insurance, don’t forget to inform your medical aid company before you travel.

·         I also pack a face cloth, change of top and under ware as well as a toothbrush and paste, facial wipes and a pair of socks to wear on the flight, a book and some sweets.

First Impressions of Dubai and Power Rangers

Well I’m here in Dubai and first impressions are ‘I don’t like it’ dusty, expensive, they drive on the wrong side of the road and I’ve been hooted at too many times, they also drive fast. It’s also got to be the World’s largest building site and quite noisy.

However this is my first day and I’m just getting my bearings at the moment.
We are staying at the Sheraton Jumerieh, Guest Services called to ask how things were and I said lovely, but it would be nice to open the window for a bit of fresh air and to see out, but the windows are covered in dust (I did acknowledge we are in the middle of a desert) within half an hour, I had repacked and relocated to a room with a balcony, thank you very much.

Breakfast buffet is included in the room rate and boy was it good. I just wanted a decent sup of tea, there were little pots of cream in the room which didn’t quite taste right and after 6 hours sleep I showered and ventured down for breakfast, hubby had left an hour earlier for a meeting.
Everyone was extremely friendly and explained to me how things worked etc. I took a walk onto the beach, the only Brit in a jumper, but bear in mind it’s 10c warmer in South Africa, than it is here. I decided to cut back through another Hotel to the main street to get my bearings and explore a bit further and was given short shrift by The Hilton Hotel staff and shown to the street via a back alley, not over impressed, but hey ho!
There’s a nice shopping area to walk through and some old and familiar shops such as Boots and Starbucks that haven’t reached South Africa and a Cinnabon cafe, unsure if that’s South African, British, American or other. I have no money, unsure of the exchange rate, but I know it doesn’t favour the Rand and what I’ve worked out, it’s a damn site more expensive than the UK, but so far I’ve only charged a Latte to the room and I don’t think £4.50 for City Centre Hotel coffee is that bad, but still way more expensive than SA making it R81 *breathes deeply*

It has been recommended I take a BigBusTour at $64 (so many exchange rates to work out) and I can walk to the shops and the Marina, which I’ll do tomorrow, plus there’s a gym, I’ve yet to find, the hotel is beach front with a pool and shaded gardens, free wifi and a hard drive of movies plus itunes to I can watch if I get bored, which I doubt very much. I’m more likely to run out of money, but it’s not a bad place to while away the rest of the week, reading, swimming and relaxing.
We went out for a meal last night and came across men dressed as fire fighters and Power Rangers playing musical intruments, unsure why, but they got a lot of attention.

Friday, 24 January 2014

How to avoid and what to do if hijacked

There is an increasing demand for vehicles with buyers already lined up, prior to hijacking, stolen to demand. These buyers are in neighbouring countries and are often sold for drugs as well as money.
The most vulnerable time for the motorist is on a Friday at the end of the day, when people are tired and less alert and typically between 16:00-20:00. Most hijackings take place when the engine is idling, on the drive, at the security gate in residential areas. They also occur whilst stationary at traffic lights or when people stop on the side of the road to make or receive a phone call. Outside schools at drop off and collection, when loading shopping or picking up passengers, advertising your car for sale or getting pulled over by bogus police or traffic officers.
So how can you avoid being hijacked?
A few minutes from home be extra alert, switch the radio off, pay attention to strangers on your street and if necessary drive on pass and whilst waiting for your security gate to close behind you, put the car into reverse as it causes confusion .
When you are driving know your destination, keep your windows closed and your doors locked. Place all valuables in the boot and your handbag in the foo twell, but preferably under your seat.
Avoid late night driving, alter your route if you drive it regularly. Leave half a vehicle length in front of you when you stop at lights or a junction, slow down for red lights, try to keep moving as it turns to green. At stop signs, check the road ahead as you approach, but it is not an excuse to break the rules of the road by running a red light or a stop sign. You’ll need to justify and prove you felt concerned for your safety or you’ll get a ticket like everyone else.
If you’re flagged over by an unmarked police car, indicate you will stop but they must follow you to the nearest police station.
If you do find yourself in a position of being hijacked, following these simple steps could save your life.
Don’t argue, fight, and don’t make eye contact. Raise your hands to the side of your head and place them together on the seat belt and slide them slowly down towards the belt buckle release and step out of the vehicle. If you have your children in the car, take your keys with you and ask if you can remove the children from the vehicle.
If you can afford it purchase and fit safety film, the window won’t smash immediately and if you’ve left have a vehicle gap in front of you, you’ll have room to manoeuvre out of the traffic and away from the threat.
Always carry your ID and licence with you. If you’re an expat make sure your licence is officially translated into English.

Do not pick up hitchhikers, stop for injured animals or stop to remove objects from the road, this is a common ploy used by hijackers to get you to stop your vehicle.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Where do you call home?

I was discussing my next trip to the UK with a friend and said I’d like to try something different and was thinking of sailing to the UK then flying home.
Home, I do this all the time, I refer to where I live as home. Don’t you all?
When we lived in the UK and I had coffee with a friend, as I was leaving I’d say something like ‘well I best get off home now’ or ‘On the way home I’m popping to the shops’
Technically my ‘home’ is Cwmbran, but I haven’t lived there since 1974, and then we moved to Stoney Stanton and York, then to Ross-on-Wye in 1982. My parents now live in Monmouth, but I never lived in that house so I don’t consider it as my home.
In South Africa if you ask someone where they are from, they tell you, where they were born, where they consider home.  If you want to know where someone lives you must ask ‘where do you stay’?
Before the move to South Africa we lived in Malvern. If I met people and they asked me where I was from, I’d reply ‘Malvern’ not ‘well I’m originally from Cwmbran, via Stoney Stanton and York, now living in Malvern’
I’ve been here 3 years, this is home, where I live, the kids may be back in the UK with the rest of the family, but when someone says where are you from I always reply ‘I live in Centurion, but yes I’m from the UK originally’

I’m off to Dubai next week and if someone asks me where I’m from I’ll respond ‘South Africa’ that’s where I travelled from, that’s where I’ll return to and that’s why I call South Africa home.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Why I’m NOT paying etolls

Part of me may reconsider this decision having just had the suspension replaced on my Jeep although I can probably attribute most of the damage to the 18yo driving it, Top Gear, style off road over the past year.
I have no real need to use the toll roads, I may occasionally use the N1 for 3 junctions or the R21 for 1 junction to reach the majority of my volunteer work, but I don’t think I can be bothered with the hassle of setting up an account for once or twice a week for what will amount to just a few Rand.
I can reach all my destinations with a little bit of forward planning and a good street map I recently purchased. I will need to plan a route that avoids the etolls for any airport runs, but I’m fairly confident on that and I may have to rethink the whole idea when the Santa Shoebox season is in full swing, September to December, and I have to travel to the North of Pretoria, but for now I’m NOT paying etolls because I simply have no need to travel those routes.
I know many people who are refusing to pay their accounts, but like the UK poll tax, it caught up with them and I suspect a few are already considering purchasing an etag to save a bit of money.
I do however see the benefits of etolls, here my tax disc costs around R250 a year compared to £400 in the UK and although fuel prices are catching up, the fuel tax is lower here. The M10, the route I currently use is pitted with pot holes, congestion and a lot of accidents causing delays and I do have to go slightly off route to reach it, so may not actually be saving any money, but like I said before, it’s the hassle, not the cost of etolls that I’m avoiding.
How about you?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Day 1096 of Captivity....Life as an Expat

On January 19th 2011 I stepped off a plane at OR Tambo airport with my husband, my 2 boys aged 11 and 15 and 9 suitcases, an Xbox, 3 laptops, stereo and a ton of cables split amongst our hand luggage.

It was our first visit to South Africa.

So much has gone on in the last 3 years.

Last week I returned to OR Tambo airport, with 3 cases, an Xbox, 2 laptops and a ton of cables split between the hand luggage, except this time I wasn't flying, I was there to say goodbye to the boys as they returned to live in the UK. The youngest returning to boarding school where he's been since August 2013 and the eldest to join the armed forces.

I've learnt so much, had amazing experiences, experienced a different culture, travelled to places I'd never even dreamed of, acquired a cat and a dog, made some fantastic friends, had endless visitors to spend quality time with and some amazing (voluntary) work opportunities. 

Apart from my husband, a dog and a cat, our entire family is in the UK. 5 kids, 2 mums, 1 dad, 2 sisters and a wide selection of nephews, nieces and 2 great nephews.

So probably time we went back then, but I'm more scared now of moving than I am of staying here so far away.

It has been a long and a hard journey. 

It has changed me. I lost my identity, for the first time I found myself without friends, without a support network.

I no longer had the junior playground to stand in to meet people. I no longer had a job in which I could network. I had no one who knew how things worked, no one who understood what I was going through ,but I was determined to make a go of it.

Now I don't want to go home. I'm not sure where home is any more. The family are spread out around the UK, from Bath to Leeds. I'm scared to start over again, to make new friends, to find new work opportunities, to leave this wonderful and beautiful country. 

I arrived in South Africa full of anticipation, I expected nothing and knew even less. I'm comfortable now, I know how things work, I understand the culture. I love this place. I don't think I ever want to leave, despite the painful distance between me and my family.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Empty nest syndrome. One week on.

Last Friday night, hubby and I drove home from OR Tambo airport in silence, apart from the occasional sob from me.

We sat in the garden and waited for the BA0034 to fly overhead so we could wave goodbye to the boys as the 14yo returned to school and the 18yo left home to make an application to join the Royal Marines both in the UK.

Saturday I was reduced to tears when my hairdresser asked when the boys leave, again when the neighbour asked if they got off all right and again when I entered their rooms on Sunday.

We were out Monday for the day and as we approached Centurion I automatically reached for my phone to call home to see if the kids wanted to meet us at the local restaurant for dinner, then remembered they weren't here any more.

Tuesday I was distracted with another airport run, this time to see MIL off after her 6 week visit and Wednesday i was in tears again, but this time with frustration as I cleaned and sorted the boys rooms, washed walls that I'd only painted in August when the 14yo left, removed chewing gum from the side of beds and desks and retrieved ALL the missing items.

Thursday I went swimming for the first time since the 18yo left school in November, then I visited 2 of the places I volunteer at. Friday (today) I had physio and a belated Christmas party in a township and this evening I sat and mused over the past week.

We've got 5 kids and all 5 have now left home, every time my emotions have kicked in and I've sobbed for hours and days even.

We're used to the children not being here, to being on our own and at the moment it feels like they're on holiday. I keep reminding myself I'll be in the UK in March/April and it really isn't that long till I see them all again.

But in the meantime I'm focusing on the benefits of them not being here, especially the 18yo.

I went to the cupboard to fetch a clean glass

Discovered there was still coke in the fridge

Ice cream still in the freezer

And I haven't had a full tank of fuel since the 18yo passed his test last February

Monday, 13 January 2014

Innoculations and TB

To gain a visa to live, study and work in South Africa we were required to have chest x rays to ensure we were free from TB.

Three years on and the kids have left South Africa, they didn’t need to have any checks to return to the UK and this puzzles me.

Surely living in South Africa we are more prone to TB than we were living in the UK.

Should the kids have been inoculated when they were here? Should we have had them also?

What jabs have the boys missed in the UK? Here there is no health visitor and if there is an equivalent ‘Red Book’ no one has ever mentioned it.

 Does anyone else have a similar experience?

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Watch out, Empty nest syndrome about to kick in here

This post was written as an article a few months ago. Today is the day my last child boards a plane for the UK and leaves home,

'I got in my car the other day, drove half way to my destination and something made me stop and turn round. I could actually see out the rear view mirror without an array of boxes and I remembered my son had taken my car to the gym the night before and emptied everything into the garage. My car has and still is full of boxes since mid October with Santa Shoebox gifts and donations for various facilities. I was bloody annoyed that I had to re load my car and when I made my 1st stop at the post box I discovered the key wasn't where I’d left it.
A few weeks ago I need to use the super glue, I opened the drawer, removed it, used it and put it back and then broke down in tears. Why? Well I'm suffering with empty nest syndrome a little.
My 14yo moved back to the UK in August after 2 and a half years with us in South Africa, his education was suffering and we made a decision to move him back into boarding school. We received his first school report and he’s achieving at and above the expected level. So happy for him that he’s doing so well, considering his last report from the school here ‘he’s not making an effort, could do better and his hand writing, reading and spelling is atrocious’ well we did try telling the school, backed up with Ed psych reports that he’s dyslexic and dysgraphic.
So what do I do to fill the gap, volunteer work and plenty of it. I just have to keep going. It’s Santa shoebox season and for the past few weeks I've been grateful the youngest child isn’t here. The 18yo is self sufficient, studying hard for his exams, leaving a mess everywhere; dominating the telly, taking my car and making me book with him when I want to use it. He leaves on January the 10th 2014 the same day the 14yo returns after his Christmas visit, Santa shoebox season will be over. It’ll be the middle of summer and too hot to muster up any enthusiasm to do anything.
I’m trying to be brave at the moment. I wasn’t when the first 2 boys left home; I was a wreck when the 14yo left so I assume the airport trip with the 18yo in January will be difficult also.
To be honest I’m ready for the 18yo to leave home now. He’s ready also. I’d like to use my car when I want, get a drink of coke out the fridge without going to the shops to buy more. Have money in purse, the freedom to go to the gym when I want, the remote control. The day to myself. But all day every day I’m not ready for.
So at the moment I’m enjoying the time I have left with him, his exams are over, I’m not moaning about my car or the coke or even the empty milk bottle. I’m looking forward to my 14yo coming out to visit again in August rather than worrying about what I'm going to do when they return to the UK.
 It’s hubby I feel sorry for though, he doesn't know how I’ll react to having an empty nest, but he’s made it quite clear, there will be no more kids.'

I'm afraid I've not enjoyed the last few weeks, I've been on count down to them leaving. I've focused on the 'what will I do with myself' rather than the time I've got left. Yes there will still be holidays, them here and us to the UK, but life as a full time mum has finished for me today. Nearly 22 years of being at someone else's beck and call, 22 years of complaining about the mess, lack of ME time, 22 years of school uniforms and pack lunches.
I've a busy few weeks ahead of me now, deliberately planned by hubby to try and ease the pain, fill the gap. I have bedrooms to clean, stuff to store and take to charity shops, a trip to Durban and Dubai to take a break, take my mind off things. But I know what I was like when the 14yo left in August, when the others left home, also aged 18, and I'm fully aware it's going to be tough.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

How safe is it where you live?

I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago ‘How safe is South Africa’ and I’ve been thinking about it and realised that it should’ve been entitled ‘How safe is Gauteng?’

We’ve just returned from a 17 day road trip from Centurion to Cape Town, via Durban, The Wild Coast, The Garden Route, Cape Town and back to Centurion via the Karoo.

We receive and entertain many visitors, family, friends and colleagues and I’m sure they all think we’re being over dramatic with our instructions/orders on the do’s and dont’s of life here.
A twitter friend who I’ve met and reads my blog asked me to give his parents a few pointers about their upcoming holiday here and my mind went into over drive with the do’s and don’ts till I found out their trip is to Cape Town and the Garden Route only. My advice was to enjoy their holiday and treat the trip in the same way they would when going anywhere on holiday. 

On our journey to Durban, slowly the security disappears, there were still security estates and individual security around houses, but not as evident as it is up here. By the time we arrived in Addo, North West of Port Elizabeth almost all signs of personal security had disappeared.
We drove through Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, it appeared that every man, woman, child and goat was out in the town that day, endless queues at the fuel stops for the bathroom and not once did I consider my personal safety. The biggest risk came from hitting a pot hole or a cow whilst driving. None of the places we stayed in had any kind of security other than maybe a fence to keep the wildlife out, even staying in the middle of the Karoo on our journey home.

South Africa has bad press and most of it with good reason, but it doesn't mean to say it's all bad and like everywhere you go on holiday you should always exercise care and caution. You wouldn't leave your door unlocked while you popped to the corner shop, so why would you do that on holiday? You wouldn't leave your front door open at home for some fresh air while you slept at night, so why would you do that on holiday?

Few people who arrive at OR Tambo, unless they live or have family or business here, just wander out the door with no idea of where they're going or staying, usually met by a tour guide, on a package holiday with a full itinerary scheduled. More people should come here, book their accommodation, hire a car and explore this beautiful country.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Is it really dangerous to pump your own fuel?

Every year in South Africa there are strikes, lorry drivers, pump attendants, factory workers.
Every year a pay rise is sought, every year the employers say no, so a strike takes place, pay rise negotiated and the workers return.
Sometimes the strikes get violent, the workers don’t receive pay while they’re on strike and usually return to work earlier than they wanted to to with a lower pay rise than deserved so they can feed their families.
But I digress a little, during the last pump attendant strikes in Gauteng this year, family and friends of the fuel stations were employed so business could carry on as usual. I’m still not used to sitting in my car at the fuel stations while the attendant pumps the fuel, cleans the windscreen, check oil, air and water so while I waited I asked if I could pump my own fuel and was told ‘NO, IT’S DANGEROUS’
Coming from the UK I found that response a little strange, it can’t be THAT dangerous, we have to pump our own fuel in the UK and check our own air in the tyres.
I think it’s more to do with stopping people stealing than the danger, especially when you see people in this country smoking at fuel stations.