One day awhile back, feeling restless and in the mood for a road trip, I accompanied my friend Robert from Placencia (where I had been living for a few years) to Dangriga, where he had some business to do at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Robert had no car, but he did have a small motor scooter to use for putting around the village, so the two of us hopped on a James Bus and were soon at the DMV, which was conveniently located next to the bus station in Dangriga.
On the trip over, Robert explained to me that both his registration and his license had expired, but he foresaw no insurmountable problem here; a simple matter of renewing the documents and we would be on our way back to Placencia.
Entering the office the first person we saw was a huge sergeant, resplendent in his crisp uniform and sitting at a desk reading a newspaper. Feeling like truant schoolboys, we stood before him until he finished catching up on the news and deigned to look up at us.
An articulate man, Robert began to explain what brought us there when the good sergeant interrupted, and using a tone of voice not to be confused with that of a mere civil servant but rather, the stentorian tones of “The Voice Of Authority,” proceeded to explain how infinitely complex would be the road ahead.
Form after form after form would need to be filled out and brought back another day (?); the scooter would need to be brought to Dangriga (?); and after going through all this and more, the good sergeant discouragingly implied there could still be no guarantees!
A man with his good share of street smarts, my friend Robert asked, “Isn’t there just some kind of fee I can pay?”
At this, the “Voice of Authority” rose up from his chair and abruptly left the room, returning a few minutes later to ask, “What kind of fee?”
Robert already had the bills in his hand — I’ve forgotten the exact amount, but it wasn’t particularly much, and twenty-minutes later, we were good to go and back on the bus, laminated documents in hand.
Some months later, Robert returned to the DMV to straighten something else out – and a different sergeant this time responded to the “Fee?” question by saying, “Not so loud!”
Small fry take their lessons from the big fry. In a country like Belize where the State and society are increasingly disconnected, how can you hope to attract honest and capable public servants of integrity?
Thanks & keep up the good work,