America vs Haiti: When Your Car Breaks Down

You may recall from a recent blog that on the last night of my stay in Haiti I had some tire issues that resulted in me finding a ride from someone else at about 9:30pm.  Well, this past Monday, I had some battery issues here in the states with our “new” minivan and I wanted to compare the situations.  This is, by no means, a thorough description on the differences between how cars are cared for in the 2 countries, it is strictly a recent experience that highlights our general experience with car repairs.

Let me give you a little back story on everything that happened leading up to my car issues in Jacksonville.  On Monday of this week, I went downtown to turn in all of the paperwork so that we could get a copy of Elijah’s birth certificate.  On the way in, I ran into someone with a pretty large cup of coffee and a good deal of that coffee ended up landing on my shirt.  While this was not a great start, I put some water over the coffee and sat and waited in a pretty saturated shirt.  It was not a very long wait to speak with someone and the whole process was pretty painless, until they asked me to step back and wait for my receipt.  Something that you would imagine taking 2 minutes actually took about 25.  So after getting everything, I went back out to my car and it would not start.  Now, we have had this minivan for about 3 months now, so I was a little irritated, but I hoped it was just the battery.  I was parked across the street from vital statistics in a church parking lot so I tried to go inside to find someone to jump my car for me.  As I looked inside the church, someone noticed me and was nice enough to give me a jump.

I had a lunch meeting right after that, and I asked the person I was meeting with to please hang around afterward and give me another jump so I could get to a battery shop.  This time, however, the jump did not work.  I was stuck in the parking lot of Ruby Tuesday, and I called Triple A to send a tow truck to get me to a nearby auto shop.  While speaking with Triple A, the person on the phone, after asking me a couple of questions, informed me that it was not a battery but an alternator and a starter (spoiler alert, it was a battery).  He then told me that the tow truck would be there sometime after 300 minutes.  It took me a second to think about it, but then I realized that they said 300 minutes (or 5 hours) and not 30 and I was amazed.  They expected me to wait over 5 hours for a tow truck to come, and I pretty much had to.  So I called Jessica’s parents since we only have one car in America and they came and picked me up.  When I got home Jessica suggested that Phil and I go back and try to jump the car again.  We did, it worked, and we drove over to AutoZone to have a battery replaced (I was so relieved it was not the alternator).  I made the call to Triple A at 1:23 and we got the new battery installed at 5:00.  

In Haiti, on the other hand, I got a flat tire on Wednesday evening at about 5:30 (after everything was closed) and my spare was flat as well.  So I called Lener and let him know and he showed up about 4 minutes later.  We were on our way to Hope Rising when it happened and we were only about a 5 minute walk away.  So Lener said, just go on to Hope Rising and I will bring you the car when it is ready.  The kids and I went to Hope Rising for soccer practice and to play basketball, and about 45 minutes later, at 6:30, my car showed up.  Lener had taken it to get a temporary fix on the tire (it was blown out) with the knowledge that we would have to get another soon.  The whole ordeal took about 50 minutes, and I really didn’t have to do anything!

Of course, these are just 2 different situations in 2 different countries.  It is just funny that they happened about a week apart and I could write about them and compare and contrast them.  As always, some things are easier in America and some things (though not too many for me) are easier in Haiti.  This particular time, car trouble was definitely considerably easier in Haiti.

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