Oh traffic. Since I was 14, my longest commute was a whopping 8 minutes on foot. Most of what I need has been within walking distance as well: school, work, grocery store, pharmacy, and even the bank! I also grew up in a town with all of 535 people. I can remember when both stop lights in the large town near by were installed. Traffic is not something that I enjoy.
I’ve been here in N’Djamena since the 18th of January. I run around in a borrowed, two-door, 1994, right hand drive RAV4 which I am very thankful for. Soon (next week or so) I’ll be buying the car that you guys have so faithfully helped me with! Thank you all! But this story isn’t about that car, its about the RAV4.
So I was at one of the supermarkets here. Its my favorite for their sales. We had a couple of people going down to Béré the day after and my fellow missionaries had ordered a few things to be sent down with them: ramen, chocolate, you know, the essentials. Our AHI-Tchad secretary, Fatime, was in the car with me just by chance. We’re backing out and see a motorcycle way back there on the right side so we continue and start to pull forward. The motorcycle is still back there on the right side. I get over to the left side to make a u-turn and he’s still on our right side. I go to make the u-turn and BAM he’s on my left and he clips the front side of the car and goes down. We pull forward, hop out and make sure they are ok. There’s blood but nothing seems to be broken.
At the point we have a crowd and the police come. People started to get a bit crazy but the police man was staying calm as we were trying to work out the details. We called our lawyer but he was at church so we called his wife who sent their son to go get him at church. He happens to be a very influential lawyer, second only to the Minister of Justice. God has blessed us already in that regard.
Another police man shows up and starts to make a report at which point he send the guys to the hospital and asks us to go downtown. We follow him there and end up waiting quite a while. He is upset that we called our lawyer, asking Fatime if she indeed is Chadian. She rolls her eyes and responds, “of course.” We say we just want to finish this up tonight and be done with it.
Once our lawyer shows up, I greet him, “Oh Elder (head elder of our church as well)! Good to see you. I had planned to visit you but not under these circumstances (he’s also my neighbor).” He laughs, “Zachy, don’t worry. God knew we would meet tonight.” Believe me, it’s a very different way of talking here. You may have not gone to church for years but you would still talk like this. He goes on to explain who we are, where we work, what neighborhood we live in, etc. Through all this he fails to mention what his job is exactly. He goes on to say that we are always there if he needs to contact us and we are easy to find. The policeman still thinks he has the upper hand and lets him continue. Our lawyer slowly works up to the fact that he is quite powerful offers his work card at which point the policeman realizes that we weren’t messing around when we said we wanted everything to be above board. We leave it at that agreeing to reconvene in the morning with an honest mechanic to asses the damages.
So insurance doesn’t cover squat here so I knew I’d have to pay something. I was running low on cash anyways so I had to stop by an ATM. Dropped Fatime off and went search. The first three were out of order so I called a friend to see if there were any more ATMs in the area. When I told him the story, he asked me to pick him up on the way to the next closest ATM so he could hear it in person. I retell it and then we go to the ATM.
The ATM was doing just fine until it glitched suddenly and said it had to retain my card! At this point my friend is just laughing at my misery. I call my bank, go through a crazy amount of security since I don’t have my card and they say they are sending me a new one via DHL! I love you, Charles Schwab! Thank you Garret McLarty, Ramit Sethi, and Scott Gardner for recommending Charles Schwab.
So in the morning I borrow some money to get by and we go and we wait. And wait. For nearly 2 hrs we waited. Finally, we say when they are ready, they can call us. Nine minutes after leaving they call us. We get back and they inspect the motorcycle, bring the receipts for the hospital bill, and an estimate for his phone. Total came out to be $50. Not bad but they said if there was anything else they would be able to call. Fatime wanted to leave it at that but I was insistent that I didn’t want them to legally be able to call me again. I know the “if you give a mouse a cookie” routine. They obviously had an agenda and wanted a total of about $85. I was fine with that and asked where I could sign!
As we are leaving, the policeman then turns to them asking were is the driver’s drivers license! He said because the case came to the police office, it was a fine equaling half of the $85! Ouch! I felt bad for him but that’s why we try and operated within the law. I am a foreigner in this land and need to follow the regulations. I did my part!
Anyways, in the end, the lesson is that we must remain calm, fair and know our rights. When we operate within the law, even if it’s a longer path, it sets a precedent. Not trying to get political here but something has to be done. So do whatever you can where ever you are to preserve the rights of those around you and those less fortunate. Remember that we’ve been tasked to be kind and caring and speak out about the injustices as well as act. So do what you can where you are.
Ok I’m getting off my soap box, and if you’ve read this far, wow, that’s some dedication! Hopefully there’ll be a vlog about life in NDJ soon. Later!
Zachary Gately, MPH
Adventist Health International – Tchad
L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boîte Postal