Monday, June 22, 2009

Where is AAA when you need them?

I opened my door for a walk on Sunday AM to see a flat tire; no doubt due to the bad roads yesterday. The good news is I had a spare but the bad news, no jack. After pointing and using many hand gestures, Francoise (my guard) was able to call four of his fellow guards and between them they had the appropriate tools (lifted from the cars of the people they work for). An hour later, the spare is on and flat is in the trunk.

As always, I am at a loss of what to pay them so I gave Francoise 2500 francs, which would be 500 a piece and they all lit up and shook my hand before they left to return all the tools to their owners cars. That equates to about $.90 cents but I guess when you earn a $2.00 a day, it is considered a windfall.
It indeed took a village to change the tire and I am not done yet; I must go to the tire repair shop.

They showed me a slit on the side of the tire so I needed to buy a tube and wait for it to be completed. They called me “auntie” and found a chair for me to sit in while I watched. When they were done I asked how much and they said 10,000 francs and I looked at them for a moment and then they said 5000 francs. I would have gladly given them 10,000 to have it fixed but my moment of hesitation made them decide not to charge more because I am a “mazungu” white person.

I can’t remember if I told you that my house came with two workers as part of the lease. It is disconcerting to have them around all the time and wanting to wait on me. Clare irons everything including my underwear and Francoise washes the car everyday even when I tell him it is a waste of water. They are told what to do by the owner and they can not deviate. Clare does not live here and when I tell her she can go home because I have nothing for her to do, she sits under a tree outside until her normal quitting time; people could learn from their sense of responsibility. If I did not employee them, they would join the 60% of people that are unemployed and the last thing I want to do is take away their livelihood.

Some of the domestic help who work and live in Kigali have families out in the village and they send most of their money to them and they have domestic help. I guess it is part of the culture that persists while the country is modernizing.

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