It’s Not My Fault

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Are there any more dreaded words which must, sooner or later, escape our lips than, “Honey, I wrecked the car.” That’s a rhetorical question. You don’t have to answer it. I admit that I have done worse things, but car wrecks are so mundane. They really shouldn’t even be counted, eh? At least when yesterday’s wreck occurred, Eunie was with me to witness that It’s Not My Fault.

It started like this:  Eunie hasn’t been feeling too good for a while (more about that another time – no serious problem), so I drove her to see “Tinpis”  (Tok Pisin  for tinned fish, a staple of PNG diet), A. K. A. Dr. John Mackerell, probably one of the few people in town who is trusted by everyone, because he knows all  of our secrets. He’d make a perfect CÏA Station Chief if somebody else didn’t already have that job.* Anyway, Eunie was with me, so she can testify that It’s Not My Fault.

First I’ll show you the horrid results of the wreck – a brand-new Nissan Navara with a serious pucker in its bum:

But, It’s Not My Fault.

This is the culprit. In front of the doctor’s office, having no marking of any kind, stands in the middle of the parking lot this ugly steel power pole. Dr. Makerell assures me that it has been hit by from fifty to one hundred people. This does not count drunks who are, oddly enough, the ones most likely to miss it, as I shall explain. I’m sure that by simply examining this image you will agree that It’s Not My Fault:

Note that the pedestrian is giving the pole a wide berth. Drunks don’t hit it because drunks only run into what they are looking at. Since this pole is effectively invisible, it is of no concern to the inebriated.

I understand your scepticism. “So, why is It Not Your Fault?” you may be asking. Well, this morning I went back to the scene of the incident to get images which will prove beyond any smidgen of doubt that It’s Not My Fault. I put my Navara back in precisely the same position as it was yesterday morning, leaned over my shoulder and snapped this shot of what I saw out of the back window:

What do you see? I’ll tell you what you see. You see the middle support of the “hang on for your life” frame above the bed of the truck. It’s meant to tie cargo to or for fearless types who like to stand in the back of the truck with their hair flying in the breeze. As you can clearly see, this is a Nissan design flaw and makes the case ironclad that It’s Not My Fault. What you don’t see  is the offensive power pole hiding behind it. Also, the rear window is dirty. The combination of rain and dusty roads has obscured vision. Am I in charge of the weather now? No. This is a consequence of natural events. It’s Not My Fault.

I hear you saying, “Nudnick! You didn’t check your rear-view mirror, already.” Oh, but that is very, very wrong. I examined it most carefully. I even have this image as evidence. Do you see anything that looks like a power pole?

I thought not. More evidence that It’s Not My Fault.

The vinegar in the wound comes from the further irony that this is probably the only PNG Power pole in town that has not been painted bright red with a Digicel logo on it. Is it my bad that the crumb-bums at Digicel chose not to bother with this one? Certainly not. It’s Not My Fault.

And, how about PNG Power? It is my understanding that they have been petitioned upon many occasions to do something about this menace. Have they responded to the pleas of the public? Please, give me a break.

No, there is blame aplenty to go around here without me shouldering any of it. Tinpis  should have warned me about the murderous pole. Eunie was sitting right there beside me. What? Is she blind? PNG Power put the stinking thing right there where people are most likely to hit it. Then the Digicel dopes didn’t paint it red. Nature messed up my back window which had already been obscured by a serious, possibly fatal design flaw by The Nissan Motor Company.

This is all so very unfair. Now who’s going to have to pay for this mess? The true culprits? No, me! And It’s Not My Fault!

* For as long as I can remember it has been an item of intense speculation and amusement in Madang concerning who or what organization might be spying on us. The very concept is profoundly silly and comical. All one has to do is Google PNG in the CÏA Factbook to see how little interest this infamous organisation has in our pitiful little corner of Paradise. Still, it is a hot topic of conversation. We are critically short of entertainment here. Who might be the current “CÏA Madang Station Chief” is always good for a few laughs.

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14 Responses to “It’s Not My Fault”

  1. Bron Says:

    Jan,

    I would love to empathize, as I, myself have run afoul of invisible obstructions whilst backing up … but …. but … I did not do near the carnage you did. Just how fast were you trying to exit the good doctors office?

  2. Bron Says:

    On a more empathetic note, the new Nissan is now … not new, and that is a very good thing.

  3. MadDog Says:

    Bron, I was not moving very fast at all. I’d say walking speed. There were people around, so I was taking it easy, since people here will walk right in the way of a moving vehicle as if it weren’t there. Frankly, I was shocked at the amount of damage. It must have been the combination of hitting in a relatively weak area and the sharp iron corner of the I-beam power pole. It’s gonna cost me a bundle. When I felt the bump I didn’t even know what I had hit. I thought maybe I might have bent the rear bumper a bit. I almost fell over when I saw the huge pucker. Thanks for your empathy.

  4. MadDog Says:

    Bron, you must be a “the cup is half full” kind of guy. Yes, there is a silver lining on almost any cloud. Indeed, the spanking new little red truck has now abruptly reached puberty. Thanks for your consoling words.

  5. Bron Says:

    Just trying to be of help; most view me as a rather “Eeyorish” sort, but now you can park wherever it’s handy … it’s dented already. One of my relatives advocated a ceremonial first dent, lovingly applied by the owner with a small ball peen hammer. And, if the gate works, leave it; as other drivers are far less aggressive to a vehicle with some dents, and that is a good thing, too.

  6. Matthew James Says:

    Mate – that’s a very entertaining post 🙂 Commiserations on the damage to your beaut ute, however.

  7. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Matthew. We’ve gotten a bit of moral support on that one. A nasty email to the local PNG No-Power manager resulted in a promise to paint it white. Awaiting further events.

  8. MadDog Says:

    Bron – All good advice. I shall take note for the future. I especially like the idea of “Baptising” a new vehicle with the ball peen hammer. That gave me my afternoon chuckle. Better safe than sorry, eh?

  9. Steve Bennett Says:

    I too once drove the streets of PNG in a brand niu car and you know in Moresby, one day, someone is going to ping a rock in your direction. The temptation to be the first to throw that rock (at one’s own car) was overwhelming.

    However, I refrained from casting that first stone and later, a Taxi drove me and my car off the Poreporena.

    I’m sorry to hear about your truck MadDog, you need to install a Tow Bar, it is impressive how much damage they can save your tray.

  10. MadDog Says:

    Sheesh, Steve. Now you tell me to put on a tow bar! You’re a little late, mate.

    However, I forgive you. When I get Makka to fix the damage I’m going to tell him to but a huge I-beam across the front and back of the car. Something’s going wrong in my head. I’ve never hit anything in my life before the last four years or so. Reckon I might be losing it?

  11. Ray Selby Says:

    Jan, It’s not my fault reminded me of my worst ever prang and after all these years I still truly believe, its not my fault. After returning to PNG I ran a copra/cocoa plantation in New Ireland. We had a central fermenting plant on the Island for a bunch of plantations, so at flush times the wet cocoa had to be transported. As you well know, there are two seasons in the PNG, the wet and the rainy and as the usual driver didn’t turn up yours truly had to drive the ten ton truck the thirty miles to the fermenting plant. It was a particularly heavy cocoa flush so had the maximum load. The problems started when we got to the steepest stretch of road on the whole island, it was like 45%! Well it looked like it from the bottom. The truck was fitted with a rear axle shift as well as a five speed gearbox so that gave it ten gears in all. Started the long climb but alas, half way up the clutch gave out and we started to slowly slide back down. So now the combination of the cliff on one side, the 200 ft drop down to the sea on the other, the fact that the brakes on one of the rear wheels was more effective than the other resulting in the truck to slew over to the edge while I frantically tried to steer the back into the cliff, I decided that now was the time to start thinking about abandoning ship. I had five local gentlemen with me on board ,they had the good sense to jump off very early, the one sitting in the cab next to me even closed the door after leaving. The edge of the road was now collapsing so I had to literally climb out lifting the heavy door like a tank hatch. Jumping down I watched as the truck slowly rolled over the edge and with engine screaming went crashing to the rocks bellow. We did manage to salvage most of the cocoa. So clutch slip, poor rear brake, torrential rain, ultra steep hill. My fault?

  12. MadDog Says:

    Ray, thanks for the great story, mate. That finishes off the debate. Honestly, I think that you have more claim to “Not My Fault” than I do.

    Your fault? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

    What I want to know is why the guy closed the door. Of course, that is to one question which you never, never ask in PNG – Why?

    If you ever get the notion to write some articles about your experiences and you happen to have any old photos, please let me know. I can get good yarns such as yours into the magazines that I edit.

  13. Ray Selby Says:

    Jan, I guess it was angle of the truck as it started to lean when the side of the road began to collapse under the weight, or possibly he thought this was a good opportunity to get rid of me.
    Why…I was really stuck on that word when I first arrived in PNG. It’s belonwanam. Is that correct?

  14. MadDog Says:

    Ray, it’s a toss up whether the guy was seeing an opportunity to rid himself of you, or just acting out of habit. Luckily, if was planned, the plan failed.

    We do find out pretty quickly that asking “why did you do that?” is not a good idea in PNG. I would probably say, “Bilong wanem yu mekim olsem”. It doesn’t translate literally, but it baciscally means “for what reason did you do that?” Just like the rest of us, Papua New Guinians don’t particlularly appreciate being called upon to explain their unfavourable actions.