Friday, July 27, 2012


My family was nice enough to call a taxi driver for me to start my trip to Apia.  I hate to take the bus to catch the 6:00 a.m. boat to Upolu.  First is the challenge of getting to the road.  It involves walking a couple of hundred yards which sounds like no big deal but it’s an obstacle course. 

Half-buried lava rocks to trip over in the dark.  And dogs.  Our family has four that sleep near our houses.  The family next door has six now.  They all sleep between my house and the road.  And in the dark, even my dogs go ballistic when they hear me coming.  Barking, growling and in some cases, charging and trying to bite.  All while I’m trying to quietly move past my family sleeping in their open family.  And carrying a suitcase, backpack and purse. 

The other problem is that there’s no bus schedule.  The bus should come by, ideally, about 4:45 a.m. to get to the wharf on time.  But it may come at 4:00 a.m.  Or not at all.   I prefer to pay $20 tala for a taxi, which I can schedule and is theoretically more reliable.

I say theoretically because sometimes the driver is reliable and sometimes he’s not.  Once he showed up spot on time, right at my door.  Another time, he showed up an hour late and I missed the boat.  Yesterday, he was supposed to arrive at 4:45 a.m. 

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. when the roosters started their racket.  I had packed the night before so just had to get dressed.  I did, then read and relaxed until 4:45 a.m.  No taxi.  The church bells rang at 5:00 a.m.  No taxi.  At 5:15 a.m. he arrived.  And parked in front of my family’s house, which meant I had to make the dog-crossing.  Nope, not happening.  I stood in my door and waved. 

He drove slowly to my door, got out and cheerily said good morning and asked how I was.  “Late.” was my very ungracious response.  Which he did not take well.  I’ve learned here that people do not like it when you get angry, especially if the anger is because of something they’ve done.  You are supposed to be a good sport and just accept it.  That’s not just for palagis, it is expected of everyone and most Samoans seem to be much more comfortable with it than I am.

I didn’t realize until yesterday morning how much that annoys me.  If you promise to do something, deliver something, arrive somewhere, then do it.  If you don’t, I want to have the right to be pissed.  I think it’s an extension of “island time”.  I still get annoyed when teachers show up an hour after school has started.  They don’t make excuses, none are expected.  Sometimes stuff comes up.  Perhaps you had a family emergency.  Or, more likely, it was cool out and you just wanted to sleep in. 

Recently, I’d been nagging my boss because I wanted him to finish writing the very long exam he wanted me to type, copy and collate.  Previously, I’ve spent entire weekends doing the work because I didn’t get the handwritten copy until the last minute.  I was determined not to have a repeat.  He delivered on time, as requested.  I thanked him profusely and then asked why he did it.  “I’m afraid of you.  You get ita (angry).”  He was joking, sort of.

Yup, that’s the American in me coming out.  When I order eggs and bacon I want eggs and bacon, not a spaghetti sandwich (at the same price as the eggs and bacon.)  When work is scheduled to start, I want it to start.  When the taxi is scheduled to arrive, I want him to be there so I don’t miss the boat.  And when those things don’t happen, I want to be able to be pissed.  Not fit-throwing, just annoyed.  Because holding in the pissedness and acting as if nothing is wrong will give me an ulcer.

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