28 August 2013


After a thrilling day yesterday with the local traffic police telling us that our driver’s licenses were invalid and that we needed to pay a 50 kina bribe in order to be sent on our way, Paul and I were anxious to get to the local license bureau to see if the officer’s claim had any merit.

We made a plan to head out first thing in the morning and run about a dozen errands in the process. After lying in bed secretly plotting ways to – sarcastically and not going on record here saying that we actually would – end the life of the annoying child staying in the apartment above us who constantly runs, yells, screams and sounds like he rides a skateboard along our ceiling at ALL HOURS OF THE DAY.

It’s so bad that we cannot nap, which you know is bad for Paul. It’s so bad that someone calling our house phone can hear the kid screaming on the other side of the world. It’s so bad that even the cable repair guys were commenting on the kid’s screaming volume and gibberish yesterday. It’s so bad that last night before Paul and I drifted off to slumberland I asked Paul if he set the kid, instead of the alarm, to wake us….because the kid does wake us….every morning around 6:30. We hate that kid.

Like clockwork, we awoke to the sound of the screaming toddler before 7, though I tried my hardest to sleep just a little longer since I was awake more hours than I slept last night. We gave up at different points and got out of bed separately, Paul to do a little work and then me to just get moving and watch one of the two Australian Today shows on sequential channels.

I showered first and, of course, took much longer to get ready than Paul. If it turned out that Paul and I did need to be issued new licenses, I needed to be ready in case a new photo would be snapped; the last one was pretty bad, as usual. For the last week and a half I have been dealing with some Bruce issues and, coupling that with my lack of sleep, I did not want to face planning an outfit or squeezing myself into a pair of skinny jeans. This day was a day destined for comfort.

Paul, antsy, paced up and down the small hallway in between our bathroom and closet three separate times before I told him I swore I was done. To keep him busy, I had him start some water for the tea I intended to take along.

I walked into the living room / kitchen in time for the kettle to pop, wearing a strapless, floor-length sundress and a scarf to cover my shoulders.

“You’re not wearing that to the DMV, are you?” Paul whined with a bit of added attitude. I made a pouty face and proceeded to make my tea, not saying anything because I didn’t want to say anything wrong.

After a minute or two, he decided that we were already running a bit behind the determined schedule (totally my fault) and that I didn’t have to change.

“No…” I said like a four-year-old who knows she’s done something wrong, “I’ll change,” and I walked toward the closet, Paul following behind me.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“No, I get it. I aim for complete comfort and zero effort and you just see local men raping me.


“I just don’t feel like fitting into a pair of jeans today,” I explained. “Can I wear sweatpants?”

“YES!” He exclaimed, practically jumping for joy. I laughed.

I put on my black yoga pants with a pink camouflage fold-over band at the hips. They were a present I bought myself for a Duck Dynasty-themed Father’s Day party earlier this year.

“What are those, pregnancy pants?” he enthusiastically questioned.

I gave him a well-deserved look. “I just got through saying that I didn’t feel like squeezing into anything and you want to throw out that line right now?”

He was already laughing, knowing his mistake.

“They’re yoga pants.”

I didn’t take him seriously. In all honesty, my unwellnes the past week and a half has me pretty skinny. Not wanting to eat anything contributes to not consuming a lot of extra calories. Magic.

While I was changing in front of him, he asked why I had to look so pretty (I put effort into making my hair look a little more than decent and I had on a more makeup than any given day, especially since moving here). I stood up and faced him. “This,” I advised while indicating my face with my palm circling my head, “is in case we do need new licenses and someone has to take my picture.”

So I paired an eye- and complexion-complementing blue workout T-shirt with my yoga pants, plopped on my flip flops, grabbed my tea and sunglasses and headed for the door.

After a stop at the cable company to drop off our box for service for the second time in two weeks and following two at-home visits from the techs that still did not solve our issue, we headed to the license bureau.

When we approached the counter, Paul advised the local woman behind the glass that we needed to have a Class 1 indication added to our existing PNG licenses; I slid our local IDs into the tray. She looked confused.

“Class 1?” she asked.

“Yes,” Paul confirmed, and then she started to hand us two pieces of yellow paper that were, as she explained, permit applications. That was not going to work.

I explained that we had been stopped by the traffic police the day prior and were specifically instructed that we needed to obtain a Class 1. She left the window to speak with a man who may have been a supervisor.

She came back to the window and asked for clarification. Paul explained that we were stopped, told by the officer that our licenses were invalid, advised that we needed to have Class 1 designations and that we were fined 50 kina on the spot. As she turned to head back to the same man, the local men around us started looking at us with wide eyes and faces that seemed to confirm our belief that we had been victims of malfeasance.

The man at the desk immediately came up and confirmed our situation. He asked us about the car we drove, a standard SUV-type vehicle seating five passengers, and he confirmed that our Class 3 designation was sufficient. He also confirmed that the Class 3 covers all of the requirements of the Class 1 and that we should not have been fined by the officer.

Paul asked if we could have documentation stating that our Class 3 designations were valid in case we were stopped again for the same offense. When the man turned away to fulfill Paul’s request, I turned to Paul, put my hand in the air and said, “High five for getting screwed!”

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