PNG’s nickname is “The Land of the Unexpected.” It’s very apt. I (Brian) went to work in the Industrial Department on my first day with the expectation that I would spend the day cleaning out my office, reading up on the equipment that I will be fixing, and just getting organized.
You can imagine my surprise when an employee from the local bank showed up at the shop with a full police escort. They had come to meet a shipment of money for the bank at the airstrip (hence the heavily-armed police) but decided that since they were in the neighborhood, they would ask another favor. You see, back in town there was a semi truck parked in front of the bank with three new ATM machines waiting to be unloaded – but they had no equipment to unload them with! So they asked if we could follow them back into town with our loader to help them out. “Why not?” we said.
So, I found myself driving into town with my boss, while another employee followed us with the loader. There was a huge crowd of people outside of the fence surrounding the bank, watching the proceedings. It was a bit tricky maneuvering the heavy ATMs from the truck to the front step of the bank, where we placed them on rollers so that they could be re-positioned later. Even though the bank was closed for the day, they let my boss inside to do some banking because we were giving them a hand.
Later, I told my story to another expat who has been in PNG for some time. I was expecting her to be astonished at my unexpected activities for the day, but her astonishment was reserved for another detail. “They have ATMs in Kainantu now?!!”