One of our cars is broken. The differential was making noise. In Liberian English, car parts can be “fine”, “not fine”, or “finished”. The mechanic took it apart this morning and found that one of the bearings in this differential is finished. It was interesting to see the insides of the differential, and I spent a while poking at it on the workbench, and having the mechanic explain the finer points to me (“This can spin, but those don’t so they have dicks and not bearings. Dicks, yes, dicks. Discs? No, dicks. And these, they can’t spoil too easy. You put different spacers in like so when these are not too fine, but you can’t file the spacers yourself, you have to get them from Toyota.”)
So it came time to do the next service on a different car, a small regular checkup. I know they need access to the pit to do that, so I told people to get ready to push the car off, and park it up the hill. They said, oh November 2, it will be heavy. We’ll need lots of guys. It’s too hot, and we’re too tired. We can’t move it. They gave me all kinds of excuses, but I was adamant… the service had to go on, and I’d gather enough guys to push the Land Cruiser up the hill as we’ve done before. So I go get the radio operator, and the front gate guard. I come around the corner with my posse of car pushing dudes and the car is backing up the hill under it’s own power! The guys are all laughing because the quiplu thought the car had to be pushed.
For a moment I was completely confused. After all, I saw all the pieces of the rear differential laying on the bench. How can this be? Then it hit me… it’s a four wheel drive vehicle. The front two tires were pushing it as it backed up the hill. Boy did I feel like an idiot.
So then I told them, “OK, if it can back up the hill, we can drive it around town while we are waiting for the parts to fix it!” That elicited a huge laugh because the drive shaft was audibly flopping around and gear oil was running out of the back differential, which didn’t even have a cover on it. So I saved some face by making a good mechanical joke afterwards, but I proved once again that quiplu don’t really have a clue … they can’t even count to four!