Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Inspector Eddy

I rate today's trip to Port as a success, since I actually crossed more than one item off of the list. First stop - Haytian Tractor - the Caterpillar dealership where we purchased the new generator. This was my third attempt to find an oil filter for it. At one point, I actually assumed that the dealership that sold the machine would be a good place to find parts for it. Silly me. But today the filters were finally in stock. They had eight of them. I bought them all. Anyone out there looking for an Perkins/Olympian oil filter part number 901-155 in this country - sorry about your luck. If you're desperate, let me know - maybe we can work out a trade for the next part that takes two months to find.

That alone put today's trip in the plus column, due to the importance of the generator and it's proper care. And it is just in time for the next service interval and oil change. As my friend EJV once said, "Motor oil is the lifeblood of the internal combustion engine." That was right after our work van blew up on the freeway due to an empty oil pan. I intend to take much better care of this engine than the owners of that one.

I struck out at the next stop trying to find replacement parts to repair a window at the mission. First, the store representative handed me the part I needed, and I gave my stamp of approval that it was indeed the one I need. Then he told me that they don't have any. I am no longer surprised by this sort of transaction and amazing customer service. It actually entertained me today - probably because I was still elated after buying out an entire nation's supply of oil filters.

Next stop was an appointment with our favorite racketeer, Eddy. It is time to get our vehicles inspected by the "circulation" department. He is also my contact for renewing our totally worthless vehicle insurance, which is about to expire. The trucks need to be inspected in order to receive the new State-issued license plates. There are new plates being issued to everyone this year, complete with a fancy background picture of the nation of Haiti. Rumor has it that the government is requiring all vehicles to be inspected prior to getting the new plates (which will eventually be required by law, and maybe even enforced). I hear that they will not issue plates to vehicles that are not in safe, working condition. When I hear this, I laugh out loud every time.

If this is true, about 90% of all vehicles currently in operation here will be taken out of circulation on the roads. I find that hard to believe. It's a lovely thought, and I would certainly enjoy traveling the roads here more if my fellow drivers actually had, say, brake lights. I'm pretty sure that is too much to ask here, though. So it will be interesting to see how that all plays out.

About a month ago, I tried to get this inspection done for our truck, but Eddy assured me that it would not pass inspection without repairing the side marker light that is out. I still haven't fixed that, but now Eddy was convinced that he could get it approved as-is. Apparently there are already holes in this new great plan of the government's. And if there is a hole in a system, Eddy will find it.

In reality, the reason Eddy couldn't help me out last month is probably due to the fact that he has a whole new crop of fresh green missionaries new to the country that haven't figured out his schemes yet. They are much more profitable for him than me now, so I'm happy to wait my turn.

We arrived at the inspection location, and Eddy told me to park the truck across the street and stay in it while he went inside. "You don't want to go in there", he said. "They will take up all of your time." So instead, I sat there and let Eddy take up all of my time. In the end, it all worked out fine, since after about forty minutes he appeared with a piece of paper for me to sign and told me "Ok, we're done."

Did I mention that Eddy finds the holes in a system? Well, clearly there are some in this one. I'm not sure if anyone even glanced outside to see the truck, but somehow my vehicle inspection was complete without ever actually inspecting the vehicle.

I'd better fix that light anyway, just in case the police actually do start pulling people over and impounding the unsafe trucks...in which case, the few million people who drive here will all be walking.


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