The Behavior of Others


Since last Thursday I lived a few upsetting moments. The worst of them all happened Friday night.


Andy returned from Durban to find some money missing in his room. It wasn’t hard to conclude who took it from there, since that person was the only one with access to it.


After all the discussion of evidences and circumstances by the two parts, the offended and the accused, I was left with the bitter task of coming up with a “sentence”.


I slept terribly, knowing that I only have two options: 1) Send him away. 2) Punish him in a unmistakable way.


After a few hours of restless sleep, the next morning I was awoken with the certitude that if we don’t act, if we don’t set boundaries, we will find ourselves in a very fragile position. At the same time, the idea of loosing someone who has been working for us for more than a decade, and desperately in need of a job, is almost unthinkable.


I still have the second option: punish him in order to make him see that stealing is wrong. Even so, I just hate the idea of playing judge and executioner!


If you wonder how could someone steal after so many years with us, I have to say that he has been stealing since the beginning. He was lucky he didn’t get caught until now.


In reality, the mentality of country people in Mozambique is close to the big city shoplifting philosophy: you need it, you take it; you like it, you have it. This can happen only once a year, or even more rarely, so the doubt remains for a very long period. Over the last year we missed three things: 1) JP’s most expensive jeans, when he was sure he had left them here. 2) One hundred dollars bill taken from a wallet. 3) And now it was US50 taken from Andy’s desk.


How annoying this situation is! I look at him, my trust all gone, as if I had two different people in front of me – the one stealing and the one helping me to keep things running smoothly – and I know it cannot happen again.


Well, the only good thing in all this mess is that the amount robbed seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Could it be a positive sign?