I thought that since the last couple of blog posts were so serious in nature, it was a good time for a light-hearted post today. I want to describe to you the process that we have gone through for getting a Haitian driver’s license. First of all, there’s a guy here at Christianville who just knows how to make things happen. Any time you need license plates for your trucks, insurance renewed, or even your NIF number (similar to a SSN) you just go to this guy and he knows a guy who can make these things happen for you. It’s funny because you can go to him one day and think maybe he did not understand you because it has been a few days since you last spoke, and then all of a sudden everything happens.
Well, getting the driver’s license was like that. All of a sudden a few days ago Sauveir (the guy at Christianville) tells me he needs this amount of money and we will get our license. As an aside, he is one of the few people that I feel comfortable giving money to like that because he is extremely trustworthy. We gave him the money one day last week, and again I thought maybe he forgot about it. All of a sudden, yesterday, he tells me that today at 8:00 am we need to drive to Port Au Prince to get my picture taken for the license…so of course we go.
It strikes me, the day before we are leaving, that I may need to wear jeans or khakis because it is culturally appropriate to wear nicer clothes to run errands like this. However, when I woke up this morning, it already felt like 90 degrees at 8:00 and I had already run 2 other errands in my shorts, so I just went out in my khaki shorts and polo shirt…big mistake. When we got to the Ministry of Finance (which is oddly where license pictures are taken) I was told that I could not enter unless I had on long pants. This presented a dilemma. This was the only day that Sauveir’s guy could come in with us and it is about a 1.5 hour drive in, so it really needed to happen right then.
In America, all you have to do is drive to the nearest mall or Target and pick up your size pants, but it is not quite as easy here, and especially not for someone who is 6’4 and 250 pounds like me. So me and Lener (one of our other employees who is getting his license as well) start to look around at different street vendors trying to find a pair of pants that might fit. We go from place to place holding up pants that are way too small for me, but we also know that eventually we are going to have to find a pair. Finally we find the biggest looking pair of pants there (there are no dressing rooms) and we haggle over the price of them. Finally, we agreed to pay $15 American for a pair of “Gucci” blue jeans that are clearly too small for me.
After purchasing the blue jeans, I proceed to get back in the car, change out of my shorts in the front seat with 2 of our employees and a stranger sitting in the car laughing at me. When I finally get the blue jeans half way on, I realize that it is going to be a really tight squeeze. In fact, I actually had trouble getting the bottom of the jeans over my feet. But I finally get them most of the way up (now everyone is laughing pretty hard, but it is kind of an uncomfortable type of laughter because it is 2 of my employees and a stranger who is helping me get my license). It is time to try and button and zip the pants, and they are not even close to buttoning. At this point, I have the pants as close to my waist as they were getting, they are about 3 inches above my ankle on the bottom, and you can actually see the scar on my knee through the pants they are so tight (I don’t actually have a scar on my knee, I am just trying to show you how tight the pants were). So, we decide this is the best we can do, and we head back to the Ministry of Finance.
We get out of the car and I try to walk for the first time in my new pants. This was an entirely different experience, and one that I hope to never have again. My pants are all the way unbuttoned and unzipped, but they are so tight they are kind of staying up, and that is all I can think the whole time. If you could see my thoughts, here is what they would have been…”Please don’t fall down, Please don’t fall down, Please don’t make me raise my shirt for the metal detector, Please don’t fall down.” So finally, we make our way back through security, and we have to sit down in this seat while we wait. It is at this point that I realize sitting is actually more embarrassing than walking as my pants just don’t want to stay in place. They call me up to ask me a few questions (what is my blood type, my address, my birthday, etc.) and all I can think about is my pants staying on.
Finally, I get my photo taken and we leave the building. I get back in the car and awkwardly change pants again in the presence of 2 of our employees and a stranger that I had just met (not to mention the numerous people who walked by our car as I tried to peel the blue jeans off of me). I really wish that someone else, like Jess, had been in the car with us so that our employees could have known it was ok to laugh at me. But this is just another one of those things that you never expect until they happen. Thought you may get a good laugh out of this, and I had to share the story with someone…