After a very tiring trip, which may or may not have involved getting little sleep in Ft. Lauderdale, I arrived back in good ol’ Haiti.
Honestly, the transition back here was less shocking than my transition back to the States several months ago. I think that’s because I have so much to DO here. Surviving, fixing problems, diving into my new job.
Arrived on Monday afternoon and was at work in the bakery 6am Tuesday.
Besides work, this week has also been spent trying to get settled into my new small studio apartment.
Wednesday afternoon I went on a massive shopping spree picking up everything needed for outfitting a modest bachelor pad: dishes, silverware, sheets, a pillow, a pot, a skillet, Mac & Cheese, Ramen Noodles, cleaning supplies, a trash can, a laundry hamper, a towel, coffee mugs, etc, etc, etc.
Electricity from city power is only on several hours a day, but fortunately I have a set of 4 batteries that charge whenever city power IS on. Then when city power turns off, my apartment runs off the batteries through a large inverter. Getting that all setup was a shocking experience. Besides those few zaps, I also accidentally shorted out the battery bank for a second (which made lot of sparks and melted one battery lead). But alls well now, and everything works.
In fact, I also mounted a 12V cigarette lighter to the wall for running things like a small fan and my cell phone charger. Running applications straight off the batteries is more efficient than running them through the inverter. You can see my inverter/battery charger in the picture below: The big white box. Josh and I mounted it to the wall and it was VERY Heavy.
Speaking of electricity, I’m also cracking down on the electric problem on my motorbike. The battery isn’t charging properly. I have tried paying someone else to fix it, to no avail, so now I’m attempting to troubleshoot/fix it myself. So far unsuccessfully. Me and electricity aren’t the best of friends.
But me and propane are even less friendly, it appears. As a result, tonight supper was trail mix. Hopefully I’ll have the stove up and going tomorrow, so we can be up to Ramen Noodle status!
Last night I did go out to eat with some friends. As luck would have it, there were no tap-taps on a certain section of road. Therefore, I walked that stretch (about half a mile), which was no big deal, except it decided to rain right then, so I got soaked. While walking through said rain, I was reminded of all the other many times in my life I’ve been outside walking and got rained on. Seems to happen fairly frequently.
Working closely with Haitians in the bakery can at times be a tiny infuriating because the way they do things is different than how I might sometimes do them. In some cases I find there is a closed attitude towards doing things differently? In fact, several suggestions I’ve proposed (which I thought were good) were met with laughter and incredulity! However, I still implemented them, regardless of the lack of popularity. Call me George Bush.
Yeah, prevailing attitudes here can be difficult to change. Customer service, for instance. There is the Haitian way, which is not the American way. Coaching the cash register today, at several points I got animated:
Customer: I want (a bunch of bread)
Register: We don’t have that.
Me to Register: Why did we just tell him we don’t have that?
Register: Because the kind of bread he asked for is not yet ready and won’t be for another hour.
Me: Then we need to tell him that it will be ready in an hour Or, give options of other bread he CAN buy right now. Our answer to customers is never, “No.” Our answer is always, “Yes!”
Another person came up to the window and handed over several small bills. Without saying anything our register person took the bills and punched in an order.
Me to Register: How did you know what she wanted?
Register: Well, she didn’t say, so I chose for her. If they don’t say, I get to choose.
Ahh, I see!
Obviously, there is some training required. I need YouTube videos of QuickTrip training. They’ve got the corner on customer service.
Anywho, I’m having fun, and things are going well overall.
More another time.