Posted by: monsonmadness | July 18, 2012

Only in American Samoa

After a year of living in American Samoa, you would think that I would be used to the way things work (or don’t work) around here. I have come to have very low expectations of everyone and everything, especially in regards to customer service. A year ago I was much more naive and was busy taking care of things like getting my car off the container in the dock all by myself and getting it registered at the awesome OMV!

Today was frustrating for several reasons. First, as I was leaving the house to go to the hospital (needed another thyroid test), I saw the phone guys hovering around the street. We made the request to transfer our home phone over three weeks ago, and it still hasn’t happened. Turns out that they needed me home for this (Q: Why didn’t they call our cells to make sure we were home first? A: That would be too easy and efficient), so I turned around, unloaded the kids and waited while they worked.

About an hour later, they showed me that the phone was ringing, and left. Dumb me just assumed that it worked fine and it wasn’t until later that I actually tried to use the line and could barely hear because it was so crackly. Maybe they’ll be back to fix it in another 3 weeks. Michael thinks we’ll just have to live with it…

So off we drive to the hospital and I’m driving in front of the hospital looking for a parking space when I see flashing lights behind me. Immediately my stomach drops and I feel sick. What the heck did I do? I was only driving about 10 miles an hour, why was I being pulled over? I paused in the road, not knowing where to pull over to, they said something in the loudspeaker to me, but I couldn’t understand and at the same time, my kids are all shouting “What’s happening Mom? Why are the police behind us Mom?”.

“Luckily” for me, this is all happening in front of about 30 Samoans at a bus stop, so they all motion for me to pull into the bus stop which is on the other side of the road. I try to flip a U and park, and the police shout out that I need to park the other way (which is really dumb because it’s against the flow of traffic, totally doesn’t make sense) but anyway, now I have to do a three point turn in the middle of the road with traffic stopped in both directions for me, and all of the bystanders watching the poor Palagi whose face is probably the color of a ripe tomato.

I am so confused at this point, so when the police lady comes over I am waiting to see what she has to say. (Just so happens to be the same officer as the one who got us last time) She calmly tells me that my registration has expired, and I’m supposed to have a sticker in my windshield, which is obviously not there.

Ok, well, I wouldn’t really know. Ever since we came here, Michael has taken over all of the bills etc. I’ve always done it up until we moved here, but for the last year, it’s been his job. Mind you, taking care of this is nothing like in the States. It is not possible to set up automatic payments, credit card autopay etc. You can’t even mail payments (remember no mail boxes here). Everything has to be done in person during work hours (utilities, cable, internet, phone, insurance, all of it)

Since I was working at the school, Michael took over all of these responsibilities, so bless his heart, this is the first time in his life that he’s had all of these things to take care of. Now add to this ridiculousness the fact that companies don’t remind you when your payments are due or when coverage expires. It is up to you to keep track of all those things. If you don’t pay your bills on time, they simply cut you off. (We know, because Michael was late with the internet payment once and we got cut off) When you make a payment, you are told the date of the next payment (usually quarterly or annually for insurance) and you just have to remember to come in on that date or else you’re in trouble.

Well, we were in trouble. The police officer asked me for my paperwork, including our insurance papers. They were also expired. By one day. Now I know that Michael had just paid it the day before so we were insured, but I didn’t have the papers, so I was getting two tickets. Awesome.

Then the lady got pretty mad and told me that I shouldn’t be driving the vehicle and that she should be impounding it, but since I had a car full of children, she would let me off as long as I drove home and took care of it all today. She warned me that another police officer could pull me over and would be sure to impound!

So, with two tickets in hand and shaking at the knees a little, I left my crowd of nosy onlookers and paraded my 6 kids into the hospital to get my blood drawn. Do you think I was calm when I called Michael on the phone afterwards??? Ha! Not really, but I made him take care of everything at the OMV and the court, and he was able to get the insurance ticket voided by showing them the papers he’d received yesterday.

Turns out that the registration was done last year on the 13th July, so we are 5 days late. Now all of you who are judging us, don’t forget how you take for granted that nice little postcard that comes in the mail from the DMV that tells you it’s time to renew, and all you have to do is make a few clicks online and take care of it. We’ve learned our lesson, just wish I had a 2013 calendar so I could mark “car registration due” on July 13th next year so it doesn’t happen again.

Oh wait…we won’t be here…we’ll be back in the real world, where things are normal and easy!!! We hope…anyone know of any legal jobs?


  1. Wow- how frustrating!! I can’t imagine having to pay all your bills in person! We would be in lots of trouble!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: