The last hurrah
So every day I mean to write a little something, and everyday it is just too much of a pain in my ass to do it, so I give up after the end of a really long day, and do something novel like learning how to do this new fangled activity called "sleep". It really is a marvelous thing, and I highly reccomend it to everyone.
The only reason I think I am able to write now is that I technically am no longer working in an official capacity. I go home in two days. I am soooooo outta here! My only function today is to finish packing, and to give away things that I will not be taking home with me,like my dart board, and the chest of drawers that I "requisitioned" from an unlocked seahut six months ago. Stuff like that will be staying.
Had what I think was my very last opportunity to bitch somebody out around here Friday morning. Anthony, Dada, Danny and myself went to a meeting with the UNMIK representative (Zoran I can't pronounce his last name but it ends in "ic") in a village called Vrbovac to discuss the fact that the village of Klokot has no running water, and hasn't had any for more than three months now. The village leader from Klokot, Trajon Trajkovic was present, as well as some men from the village, as well as the village leaders from another Serbian village called Mogila, and representatives from a Canadian non-profit organization called IOM.
About six months ago IOM provided the money to buy Klokot a new pump, and to have the pump installed. This was done, and everybody was happy. The pump worked for about three months, then,one day, the pump seized up, died, and went to pump heaven. Now, of course, everybody in the village is very unhappy. Indeed, they are very sad, and have been oh so eager to tell the American's their very sad story. Now, as EVERYONE knows, if you tell the Americans a sad story, they will pull out their massive wallets, and throw MASSIVE amounts of cash at whatever problem YOU are having (as we all know, ALL Americans are FABULOUSLY wealthy).
About the 22,000 euros donated by IOM.
About the suspicions that some of them have concerning the widely held belief that Trajon purchased a cheap ass pump for 500 euros, and kept the rest of the money for himself.
Of course there is always the VERY sad story concerning how poverty stricken they all are (which is actually true, for the most part). Of course many of the villagers in Klokot will leave out any mention whatsoever of their own responsibility for the squalor which they endure, and subsequently visit upon their children. By the way, when this part of the conversation comes up, I like to tell them to stop buying cigarettes, rakia and beer, and maybe they would have some money.
By the way, most of the villagers seem to have the mentality 13 year old dough heads; I arrive at this conclusion based upon my having to listen to all of the ludicrous rumors that they like to spread about things of which they know little or nothing at all. Bottom line: Trajon DID NOT STEAL the money! The shitbag contractor did.
For some reason, my amazing powers of deductive reasoning are completely lost on some of these people. Not all though. For instance my good friends Svezdan and his father Georgij agree with me completely. Georgij, whom I call "grandpa", is probably the wisest, kindest, and monetarily poorest man in the village. He likes to say that his neighbors are simple and selfish, but basically good people. I agree, but man can they be frustrating sometimes.
This has been true with our efforts to get their sewage problem underground, and it is likewise true of the effort to fix the whole water pump problem.
So this is what happened in the meeting. Trajon started arguing with the Zoran about the whole pump issue. Zoran said basically that if the people want to have their water service restored, then they have to abide by an agreement that Trajon himself signed back in December that would allow the public water utility "Hydro Morova" to come in and fix the pump. The only stipulations that the water company has before they will start work are the following:
- Each household will install a water meter to monitor the outflow of water for billing purposes.
- Each household will install a FAUCET to keep the water from flowing all of the time ( seriously, there are NO faucets in the whole village; this is part of the reason the pump died)
- Each household will pay their water bill.
That's all. Nothing really unreasonable.
Of course, many of the villagers don't see it that way.
Trajon started going on and on about how poor they all are, and started yelling about how they will not pay bills for water they are not receiving, blah,blah, blah.
Pretty soon the whole room is in an uproar, people from Klokot and Mogila getting all loud and belligerent sounding, the guys from IOM looking very frustrated, and staying very quiet, and the the Zoran throwing his hands up in the air in complete consternation, and Danny and dada both translating furiously in an attempt to keep up with the cacophony of loudly croaking smelly old men.
Now, before we got to this meeting I told Anthony that I would do my best to stay quiet and keep out of things. After all, I'm leaving, and I don't want to leave the wrong impression that I'm going to be around for awhile.
But all of this was really just too much for me.
So, I made myself somewhat louder than the rest of the room, and being that I AM an American (which really does mean something here), everybody quieted down and listened to me as I pointed out the following to Trajon:
- You signed an agreement with IOM.
- Contracts are binding, and that is a manner of honor.
- You must keep your word if you want anybody to help you.
- Install water meters on your houses.
- Intall faucets on your pipes to keep the water from running all the damned time.
- PAY YOUR FUCKING BILLS!
- Do all of the above and you will be helped, if not don't come crying to me anymore, as I have damned near broken my back trying to help you, and I'm starting to feel that you are ungrateful.
Now, with that being said, I got quiet again and tried to allow the meeting to get back on track, when Trajon went completely off topic and started up with a "what if" scenario: 'What if Hyrdo Morova does the same thing KEK (the electric company) has done to us and the pump breaks again, and they don't come out and fix it?"
A short word about KEK to provide some context concerning Trajon's question: KEK sucks big monkey nuts when it comes to the ability to deliver electricity. They couldn't deliver a charge of static electricity by rubbing a balloon and touching you on the ear, they suck that bad.
Anyway, Trajon asked his question and I about lost it. Here this guy signed an agreement with the utility TWO MONTHS ago to alleviate his people's suffering, and he still insists that they have to get something for nothing.
I told Trajon that we were not there to talk about "what ifs", our purpose was to talk about what is.
But he wasn't having any of it. He said something else blustery and Balkan that I can't remember, and the whole room went nuts.
At this point, I lost my patience with the whole thing, and told Trajon that he was wasting my time, and that I wasn't going to put up with it. I told Anthony Dada, and Danny we were leaving, got up and started to walk out. As soon as I did that, it suddenly got quiet again, Trajon left the room very quickly, without shaking my hand (which is considered a huge insult here) and very embarresed. All of the old men were smiling and nodding at me, telling me they agreed with me about what they should do...lots of handshakes all around...it was great
She puts up with a lot.
A happy Dada; Not frustrated yet
About two hours later we had another meeting with Trajon, the Task Force Engineers, and the contractor for the sewer project. Trajon brought with him to the meeting a list of all of the households in the village, breaking it down into those who had water pipes installed, and those who would be willing to install water meters and faucets right away.
He had had that information the whole time and withheld it. If he had shared it a couple of hour earlier, things would have gone much easier, but instead I had to embarass it out of his hillbilly ass.
What a shithead.
That's okay though, because I got my way in the end. Sometimes you just need to act like Marshall Tito around her to get things done, then back off and let things happen on their own.
My last act here will be tomorrow when a truck from UNICEF will arrive on Camp Bondsteel to pick up "Sesame Street" toys that were donated by the 432nd Civil Affairs Family Readiness Group. The items were donated as part of a UNICEF sponsored project titled apporpriately enough, "Project Sesame Street". We are sending Elmo out into the province to set these people straight!
"Elmo says you need to square your ass away!"