Yes, I know that the title isn’t original, but hopefully it will appear quite apt in a moment; because there are a few things that upset me this past week and I need to talk myself through them. Besides, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with “public transportation, sluts and taxes”…
I had the decided misfortune of having to take what passes as public transportation in Jamaica this past week. Never-mind the condescending tone, as I wrote it I realized that I should give God thanks for the fact that I don’t normally have to ‘ride the bus’ because I am privileged enough to have a car. Mind you, an old car, but a car nonetheless. But, Betsy was down (what’s new?) … alternator issues this time. But, this is not about my car …
The first day I caught a Coaster in Half-Way-Tree, heading to Cross Roads. “Caught” is a literal term, because the bus was in slow roll, as the Conductor repeatedly shouted “readi one, readi one”; picking up passengers while the bus was actually moving – although it was at the bus stop. Yet, if that was bad, imagine being plied with the loud, continuous banter of (what passed for) music throughout the short journey. Yes – dance hall … and I’m not so old that I couldn’t recognize the voice of the popular, currently incarcerated artiste – but, OH MY GOD – the Lyrics. What he wanted to do to which woman and how she moved to … ok – you get the picture! But, as I processed the “noise”, I watched the teenagers (especially the girls – in their school uniforms) moving to the rhythm – completely engrossed – and I became quite sad. The impact and influence of the music was unmistakable and I had no doubt that there was nothing positive or constructive about it. Packed as we were – 5 per row – and with the noise nuisance … I missed my stop because the driver just couldn’t hear me shouting … “one stop driver, one stop”.
The second day I took a route taxi (from Valentine Gardens to Half-Way-Tree) … pleasant fellow the driver was, as he spoke of his love for his grandmother and old people in general. I was beginning to relax a bit, with the thought of being comfortable in a public passenger vehicle when he finally reached closer to our destination and simultaneously stand still traffic. Oddly enough, he took up his phone and – on reflective hindsight apparently in a WhatsApp group – kept on saying something like “somebody gi mi a let through, 5 minutes”. He got no response, but proceeded to take the right hand side of the road all the way from Tarrant Drive up to the square. OH MY GOD … and then he said to the group … “mi nuh get nuh response suh mi come up blind”. Praise God that we didn’t end up head-on in oncoming traffic from the opposite direction. Let that sink in…
The third morning I opted for the JUTC bus, surely this must be better — I mean air conditioned, clean and – although slower than the other options – decidedly safer, right? Oh, and this was International Women’s Day. An elderly gentle lady came to sit beside me at the back of the bus and promptly took out her book to read. I couldn’t understand why – though so late in the morning – the bus was filled with students, but that’s for another discussion. The final straw was the brazened actions of a young man sitting in the seat ahead of us. On his phone, bucked to the limit was the lyrics from – yes – the same popular, currently incarcerated artiste. The words made me cringe and I could literally see the face of the old lady grow pale. Imagine it – he had his earpiece in his hand … yet he felt it necessary to subject the rest of us to that litany of garbage. No respect, no sense of shame, nuh likkle decency or broughtupcy … And I cried inside myself — I cried for him and his ignorance and the state of our nation and the values of our young people. Oh, and it didn’t help that there was that crawling ‘teenager’ on the side of the bus … eeeewww
Is this what passes as public transportation in Jamaica? Why should this type of behaviour and music be allowed in the public space? Cuss all you want, but – as for me – his music should be banned! And this coming from a proponent of free speech. Afterall, with every right comes a responsibility.
And what about those laws which prescribe that all doors should be closed on public passenger vehicles; no one should be hanging out on the steps, music (much less loud music) was banned – they even tried to ban the preachers of God’s Word … or was it a Twilight Zone experience and I just happened to have fallen into another backward time zone?
Well, old Betsy is back up and running, Praise God … and I don’t look forward to a recurring experience anytime soon.
On another note, imagine getting a friend request from a young lady on social media … you accept … and then you receive this:
How are u. Me like u can we what’s app. Can u buy me a 200 Digicel credit to txt u on what’s app
I would have laughed, excepting that this was not an isolated episode. I have been propositioned in so many ways by young women on social media that now it’s not just annoying, but I believe it’s a social malady. The one that took the cake was a young lady randomly calling my number, admitted that she didn’t know me, but since we were already taking – would I be interested in some sex for a change. The words in italics are mine because I refuse to write hers. Needless to say that I have not answered the request above and promptly hung up my phone on the latter. However, sad as it may be, could the consequences of these random actions account for some of the horrifying, traumatic and deadly experiences of our young women? Yes, I know times are hard and they have needs, but there has to be a better way.
And finally, the tax axe fell last evening … and, with it, the promise of 1.5. Politics aside, because there will always be a Government in place, and even at the risk of being mealy-mouthed, since I am among those who will benefit – it hurts me to think of the many Jamaicans who will not benefit, but will still have to absorb the consequential rising prices in goods and services. Yes, there were mitigating benefits announced, but not much to buffer the oncoming prices at the pumps, the supermarket and – yes – in public transportation. And what about those sin taxes; we soon can’t even drown our sorrows away.
Suppn nuh smell rite inna ‘Denmark’!
Walk good, ’til next time …