Post 22 — Larry Takes a Test

The brand new Datsun. I can't imagine how we got six people in this car.

The brand new Datsun.
I can’t imagine how we got six people in this car.

Since he would soon be driving in this new place, Larry walked over to the police station to renew his driver’s license.

“Excuse me, I was told I need to take an examination to get a new driver’s license,” he said to the man at a desk.

“You new to the island?” asked a burly police officer who was wearing a khaki shirt and a lavalava with a tiny finger banana tucked in the waist.

“Just been here a few days,” said Larry, distracted by a loud conversation that seemed to be coming from the jail. “Is something going on over there?”

“Oh, no, it’s just lunch,” said the cop, peeling the banana and swallowing it in one bite. “The families of the prisoners bring them food.” He indicated a Samoan woman who was busy trying to push a papaya through the bars. From the amount of pressure being applied, Larry assumed that the fruit was going to pop and eliminate the need to be cut open. Amazingly, it didn’t, and the woman took out a machete and handed it to the prisoner.

“Do you mind if I ask what they did?” said Larry nervously. He had assumed the island would be devoid of murderers and crooks.

“Traffic violations. They all drive like crazy nuts. You want to take the test?”

Over in the nearby cell, the prisoner had scooped out the seeds, sliced the papaya into perfectly symmetrical slices that he arranged on a plate of plaited palm frond, and then handed the knife back to his mother. Larry sat down at an empty desk and looked at the paper that had been handed to him.

True or False. 1. It is dangerous to throw rocks at passing vehicles’ because innocent
people might be killed or injured.

True or False. 2. You should not take anyone else’s car without their permission.

True or False. 3. You should not drive after five beers.

He puzzled over number seven for a while, wondering if it was a trick question. Maybe you weren’t supposed to stop if there was a pig in the road. But he decided to go with his gut and circled True and handed in the test. Ten minutes later, he was a licensed driver in American Samoa. Apparently all those years as a part-time Driver’s Ed teacher had finally paid off.

The same car 3 years later. The salt and humidity caused large areas of the body to rust away. Helpful Samoans would put bouquets of wildflowers in the holes on the hood, making it very festive to drive.

The same car 3 years later. The salt and humidity caused large areas of the body to rust away. Helpful Samoans would put bouquets of wildflowers in the holes on the hood, making it very festive to drive.

Our car is adorable! It’s white with red and white upholstery. I had entertained thoughts of possibly stuffing it in a suitcase on the way home, but Larry mentioned something like 400 dollars or some such silly amount to ship it, so back to the drawing board. It’s such a homey feeling, having our car financed again.

Jean

9/6/64
The purchase price is $1620, which is about $400 too much, but it’s either that or walk.
I think in the long run, the use we get from it will compensate pretty much. We did some exploring yesterday around the other side of the harbor, and we intend to investigate the other direction tomorrow. This morning we went into town because an Australian liner had docked, and the natives were exhibiting their handicrafts at exorbitant prices. The kids all bought native dolls, Jean bought woven place mats, and we got a grass skirt in which I took Karen’s picture. Now that I look at that last paragraph, it appears that the main function of the car will be to enable us to get to places where we can spend more money. See, Samoa isn’t so different from Detroit after all.

Larry

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