Saturday, February 16, 2013

JeanPierre & Bob

by Jimmy

As I get ready for bed, I am also preparing myself mentally to get up sometime in the middle of the night to turn on our small generator. EDH (our national power company) has graced us with their presence all of 1 night in the past 5 or 6. So we have had to run the generator quite a bit lately, and make do with less power than normal. (Like having soft homemade ice cream in the freezer.) (Thank you Valentine's Party for the ice cream.)

In case you are not aware of ex-pat life in Haiti, many, many conversations between expats revolve around EDH. A couple days ago, I even had a long term expat (I won't reveal who it was) confess that his attitude for the day is often influenced by whether or not they had EDH. Wow! There is no way that I would let the roaring noise of the generator, or the lack of fans, or the cost of fuel, or the leaving on of lights, or the chore to go get more fuel, or the softening of the rarest-form-of-special-luxuriosly-expensive-treat, ice cream, affect how I FEEL. Not at all!

But, this post was supposed to be about JeanPierre and Bob. JeanPierre and Bob work for EDH. Their jobs are very special, as they run the operation room, by which they evenly divide the limited kilowattage of Haitian electricity, throughout the country. They both work very hard, and long hours. 12 hour shifts each, from roughly 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. I know those hours are rough. I have roughnecked those hours. Not fun.

These dedicated workers however, excel at their job. Their only and primary concern, as dictated by President Martelly himself, through his deputy of Haitian Affairs, and their UN advisor (and his office staff), after a quick conference call to the US to make sure the Americans are on board, AND another call to the fuel supplying Venezueleans, is: to "FAIRLY" distribute electricity throughout the country.

Their office consists of panels and panels of computer screens, by which they carefully monitor usage, and grids, and kilowattage, and where the important people live. They also feed a stray cat, whose name escapes me at the moment.

Unfortunately, for many expats, communication seems to break down sometimes as the shifts change. Take this week for instance, both JeanPierre and Bob left each other notes, informing the other that he was attending Karnival. So... sector 11, (or are we #13?), was left completely in the dark while we can see that the mountainside has had electricity, AND our expat friends just down the road had it as well. There was that one day we had, power, but it was only because the maid came in to clean twice that day, and accidentally turned sector 11(13?) on the first time, and off the second time as she wiped down the keyboards.

In times past, miscommunication has actually benefited sector 11/13. Bob, after his night shift failed to inform JeanPierre that Sector 1113 had had power all night, so JeanPierre, truly desiring that all residents should have access to power fairly, turned on sector eleven (thirteen?) for the rest of the day.

And then there was that time the cat got loose in the operations room. As JeanPierre chased it around the room, switches kept switching ON/OFF/ON/OFF/ON/ON/OFF/OFF... On our end, our imaginations were fully engaged as our fans kept speeding up, and slowing down, speeding up, and slowing down. In the end, it was just the cat.

 Needless to say, though some expats here in Haiti will ALWAYS mention EDH, and how much power they have had, or how AWFUL their 6 hours without power has been, I will remain stoically silent, nod my head, and play nice. I am here in a support position. Here to encourage. Here to be an ear to hear. Here to judge not. So as I ride with Troy, on the way to his powered village, I look up at those concrete electric poles and say thanks. Thanks to JeanPierre and Bob, who really have a tough job at the end of those electrical power lines. And thankfully, they share their trials with me, so I can make some semblance of sanity out of the seemingly selective EDH schedule.


  1. I can see that your mind is a little like mine; we both resort to "there has to be a reason for this nonsense!" I pray that you have a few more days of power this week.

  2. Thanks for the prayers. I think they worked!

    Power or not we are still tremendously blessed.