Wednesday, 25 April 2012

"This is Africa"

This is Africa. That's what people say here whenever they're trying to excuse something that shouldn't have happened, or that should have been done by now, etc. Here's a story that illustrates the saying:
Liberian law requires that the name of the NGO (in this case, the Free Presbyterian Mission Church of Liberia) be placed on the sides of the vehicle if it comes in under the duty-free category. So we needed to get decals made and stuck on the sides of the vehicle I'm driving (otherwise it could have been impounded). It took us five trips into town to this one business to get them done -- spending an hour or two there each time!
Trip 1 (Thursday) -- Obviously, we wanted to get something that would look good. Rev. DiCanio and one of the guys at the printing business designed the logo -- the guy is good at his job but his computer is really slow so it took ages to get it done. The man who does the printing was away somewhere else so we were asked to come back the next day.
Trip 2 (Friday) -- We arrived back at the shop to find that the man had printed our decals -- but they had come out of the machine some shade of pink and lilac instead of grey. He tried them a few times but no joy, so we headed home again with his promise that he would definitely get them printed on another machine and we could pick them up the next morning.
Trip 3 (Saturday) -- The decals were printed, the colour was good -- but when they went to put them on the vehicle a couple drops of water got onto one of them and the ink started running. Now the rainy season is just about to start here in Liberia, so that would never do. So the guy said he would print them again and let them dry over the weekend and we should come back on Monday morning.
Trip 4 (Monday) -- We arrived at the shop around 10am to find the workers all eating rice. We were asked to sit down with them, and after a few greetings and some small talk, we asked if we could get the decals because we had a lot to do. Well . . . the owner hesitated and then explained apologetically that he had printed the decals on Saturday afternoon, but on Saturday evening his children had come into the shop and had cut up our decals to make aprons!!! I couldn't believe my ears!!! It was so like the classic "my dog ate my homework" excuse that I seriously thought he was joking. Should have known better -- who could have thought of an excuse like that? I actually just laughed out loud because it was either that or explode. He showed us the ruined decals -- and to be fair to the kids, they had made a pretty impressive apron out of them . . but it wouldn't have looked good on the car.
Trip 5 (Monday) -- So we left and he printed them again (I still don't understand why he didn't reprint them as soon as he found what had happened on Sat night). We went back in the afternoon and finally picked up the finished product. The guy who came to put them on the car had just been painting and kept smearing paint on the car whenever he touched it. Also, he didn't have any tools with him at all -- nothing to measure etc, and in fact looked a bit confused when we mentioned that he should measure the space to make sure the sticker went on straight. But he borrowed a yardstick from someone, and then was about to scratch a line on the car with his thumbnail since he didn't have a wax pencil. So at that point, he got fired. The second guy who came along seemed to know what he was doing, and at long last I have the decals on my car and I'm legal to drive.
You think this is an incredible chain of events? So do I, but after all . . . this is Africa!

1 comment:

  1. What an ordeal, Joanne! Only you could retell it with such humour! If you didn't laugh, you'd definately cry...but the Lord undertakes and I'm glad you got it sorted EVENTUALLY!:o)