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It’s a Wonderful Life?

December 22, 2011
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One Saturday's worth of 'yuck' on my feet. No, that's not all tan line...

Today we went to Ganta to try to bank.  We expected a shit show and weren’t disappointed.  A crowd milled around outside and we immediately recognized two teachers.  “What you come here for?” the VPI asked.  “The system is down.  No one has had money for two days.”

Oooookaaaay.

We went inside and it was standing room barely.  No one seemed to be in charge.  No one seemed to know what was going on.  No one was going to get their money before Christmas.

The whole thing made me think about It’s a Wonderful Life… except these people were so calm, complacent, resigned to the unfair vicissitudes of life.  If people had to wait two to three days to withdraw money in America there would be a riot.

As Krista and I walked to the bank from the taxi I asked why it takes teachers one to two weeks when they go for their pay.  This is why.  We can afford $250 each way to have our time wasted, but some of these people had spent all their money getting to the bank.  So there they sat.  Tired and hungry, I’m sure, but accepting of their fate.  How can you be disappointed or annoyed if you didn’t expect anything anyway?

I called our office and asked again if someone could help me.  I got routed to someone different and, for the first time, think something might happen.  I trust he’ll at least do what he can, whatever that is.

We walked through the market and it was a madhouse, wheelbarrows and tubs overflowing with plastic trinkets.  I put my blinders on and managed to get to the food market without looking at lappas.  I bought a pineapple and a cabbage and we pushed our way back out.  “White woman!  Buy from me!” and “White woman, where ma Chri’mas?” following like a chorus.

The car filled quickly at the taxi stand.  We squeezed in just as a man opened the driver’s side door and started yelling at me.  “You again?  Remember me?” he said.  Of course I did.  Sunday he harassed me for about an hour while we waited for a car.  “Gimme your glasses,” then, “Give me your handkerchief,” and finally, “You very mean and wicked-o!”  I looked right at him.  “Give me you handkerchief!” he repeated with a scowl.  I started back and just shook my head.  One of the other passengers started yelling and he left.  I think he’s literally a professional harasser at the taxi stand.  Great.  At least he thinks my name is Diamond.  That’s a small point for me.

A woman with a small small baby and an old pape got in the back with us and we headed back to Sanni.  “Ladies and gentleman,” the old pape addressed the car as we picked up speed, “can I talk to you about Jesus Christ?”  No one said a word.  “Ok,” he began, narrating Jesus’ life, listing types of sins, and finally calling for someone in the car to accept Jesus into their heart.  Again, Silence.

“My sisters,” he addressed us.  “Have you accepted Jesus?”  Krista pulled her bandana down an inch.  “I’m Catholic.”  He turned to me and I said I was Catholic too because, well, that’s what she said.  “Oooh, well we have some problems with the Catholics,” he said then said something about Israel and Mary and hell.  Thankfully he decided to wrap things up even though no one had been saved yet.  “My brothers and sisters,” he said, “let’s pray.  Close your eyes—everyone except the driver.  Bless him my god!”

Finally the car grew silent except for the regular scrape, bump, and skid of the road.  I was completely covered except for my hands and a small strip of my forehead and.  I grew warm in the sun and dozed off, waking only when we reached the check point.

We got out at the Jungle Water store and walked to Margaret’s.  We were early so she wasn’t ready but, well, that’s life so we waited around for about an hour.  She had my skirt done and she’d changed the sleeves on one of my suits for a third time.  My new suit, however, wasn’t quite ready.  She left to see if the ruffles were ready three times then told us to just come back.  I was disappointed but that’s just kind of how the day was going.  What I saw of it looked promising, though.  I asked her to copy a shirt I brought from America and make a matching short skirt.  Fingers crossed.

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