What Can WE Do?

Today I saw a little boy at a stoplight that I frequently pass. I know the regulars so I realized he’s new. It’s sad there are even any ‘regulars’ in the first place.  I’ve been trying to stick to my resolution that I’m not going to be conned anymore by insincere and/or rude persons (you’d have to read my previous blog posts or have seen my Facebook posts to know the back story to that) and apart from that, my windshield is getting scratched by the windshield wipers and I really don’t need that.  Anyway, the point of that diversion in my story is that I had made up my mind that I was going to tell him no. I did just that so he wiped off the little area he had sprayed and went on to the other cars. His little face melted me though. He wasn’t like the little boy I’ve posted about who was quite rude and tormented me each day.

I started blowing my horn for him to come back so I could give him something.  The banana man got his attention for me.  He came back and I handed him the money. He politely said, “Thank you miss.”  Typical me started talking to him.  Why I can’t let people go on their merry way, I don’t know. “I’ve never seen you out here before.  Are you going to be out here now?”  He hung his head and all he could offer as a response was, “Nothing miss.”  I then asked, “Are you okay?”  He said, “Yes, miss” and my heart melted even more looking at his face.  He walked away but not before turning back to say yet again, “Thank you miss.”

I drove off and all I could think was, well suppose he had said he’s not okay.  Then what?  How could I have helped?  The truth is, just the mere fact that this child is out at the stoplight is enough to tell me that he’s not okay.  That brings me back to this – what else can I do to contribute?  Heck, what can WE do?  Yes, I’ve done and continue to do things, but is this drop in the ocean enough?  What else can I do?  How do I make a bigger impact and dare I go as far as hope to get these children off the street?  There are many key issues arising here; the lack of employment, the need for family planning to be emphasized and even the need for parenting classes, among other things.

I did the Digicel 5K (great initiative) recently and in the midst of feeling pumped as I went along, I also felt sad.  There were a few times that we passed homeless persons or children out on the street watching as all the excitement passed them by.  I mean children you could clearly see were less fortunate.  I saw one that didn’t even have on shoes.  This walk took place in the night and some of them were standing there with no adult in sight.  There we were walking to raise money and awareness for special needs, and here were other needs lining the street. So many areas need our help.  Just this weekend I was driving  downtown (yes I had someone with me this time so no getting lost) and saw a homeless man with one leg dragging himself across the street. Now I’ve seen many homeless persons, as I’m sure you have, but this hit me on another level.  Can you imagine that this is how this poor man has to get around?  Just dragging himself. Man…

There’s so much to be done and I commend those who have joined the good fight in whatever way they can.  I’m straying a bit , but I guess my mind is on areas in general that lack so much and need assistance.  Our hospitals are one such case.  While recently they have been in the media extensively, the truth is that it is not news to us that some of them are in a deplorable state and it is not news that some lack essential equipment.  We knew this.  A particularly upsetting incident reminded us of these things, and has put it further in the spotlight, but as I said, we knew that these things were happening to some extent.  We’re guilty of getting outraged about things then forgetting all about them.

Tremendous kudos to Shaggy for all he does for the Bustamante Children’s Hospital. He didn’t just turn the newspaper page or change the channel or send out a tweet with a great hashtag when he realized the problems the hospital faces. He took action.  I used to volunteer there while I was in high school and I ended up stopping.  It pained my heart to go and play with the kids and cheer them up for a brief moment, only to leave them lying there in their hospital beds.  It’s something that I really, really should have seen through because those children look forward to the visits, but I wasn’t strong enough to continue.  I chose instead to start volunteering at the Salvation Army’s School for the Blind.

I enjoyed assisting the students with their homework assignments and developed a good relationship with them.  There is one in particular that I am so proud of.  When he was studying for CXC he asked me for extra assistance so I picked him up and let him come to my house to go over notes. I was his ‘writer’ for the exam and I remember there were some times he would ask me what answer he should choose.  I refused to give him any answers and instead encouraged him to listen carefully.  I am beyond proud to say that he passed with distinctions.  He went on to pursue his degree at UWI and get this, he even has his Masters now!  After achieving so much, he now has a problem; there are barely any job opportunities for the visually impaired.  Well, there are barely any opportunities for persons with disabilities full stop.  I need to rephrase that even more.  There are barely any opportunities even for persons who don’t have a disability.  I’ve been privileged to be a part of this young man’s life and watch him work against the odds to accomplish all that he has, but how do I help him now?  If anyone can assist me in answering this question, please let me know.

Today I was reminded that I need to find ways to do more.  I need to find a way to take it to a higher level.  I also need to encourage others to get more involved, and I’m happy I can use my blog to reach persons.  I worry that my drop in the ocean is not enough, but if we all do what we can, our collective efforts can accomplish something.

I’d like to end by letting you all know that if you have items (in good condition) that you want to give away, you can take them to the Salvation Army’s headquarters on Waterloo Road.  Just put the bag in the receptacle, and that’s it.  As simple as that.  Do what you can, volunteer where possible, make someone’s life a little easier.  Let’s be a TEAM, because Together Everyone Achieves More.

Know When To Zip It

There’s that famous saying – ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ Is it always?  I was in the supermarket the other day and a gentleman beside me was having a conversation with a lady I presumed to be his girlfriend.  Anyway, as I was so close to them I heard him say, “There’s nothing wrong with giving a compliment.  There’s nothing wrong with being honest.”  Suddenly he directs the conversation to me.  “Look at this lady right here (Umm this lady right here who’s minding her own business?). Miss, you look FANTASTIC! She does! There’s nothing wrong with telling her.”  Can you say awkward? I felt awkward for me AND for her.

I said thank you and couldn’t help but laugh.  Did he really just do that?  And why did I have to be the one he used to make a point? Lol.  I immediately looked at her to see if she was getting ready to take her earrings out and throw all one hundred pounds of me to the floor, but her face didn’t offer much expression.  Actually he ended up striking up a conversation with me and she walked off (still in the vicinity).  The man continued his point, saying he doesn’t see what’s wrong with being honest.  I told him that can actually get you in trouble sometimes so you have to learn when it’s best to say nothing at all.  Case in point, what he had just done.  Not every situation calls for you to voice what you may be thinking.  He then started telling me about a scenario with his co-workers where it really did turn out that it was perhaps best to withhold the truth.  You’re probably wondering why I stood there entertaining a conversation with him being that his girlfriend may not have been amused.  Well, I was trying to get the attention of the staff in the bakery.  His girlfriend came back over and get this, he introduces her as his wife.  The plot thickens! I gave her my warmest hello and sweetest smile and thankfully they got what they were waiting on and left.  Never a dull day I tell you…

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With Hard Work Comes…Success, Right?

Here I go with my random thoughts lol.  Know how every year you say the cliché, ‘This is my year’? And you sing along with conviction when Konshens comes on with ‘This year mi ago be the winner?’ Wait, wait, don’t forget Charly Black – sing it with me now…If mi nuh rich dis year, next year nah pass. Well a few years have passed, quite a few actually, and it doesn’t seem to be ringing true.  #IMPATIENTLYwaiting :/

The Chronicles of Mommy and Me: A Dose of Reality

The other day the world was wrapped up in the excitement of the IAAF World Championships.  Here in Jamaica it was a frenzy as we cheered on our athletes.  During a conversation with my mother, she ensured I let go of any false hopes that I may have had about track and field.  I know for certain she won’t lie to me about anything lol.

Me: Mommy I bet if you had your life to live over you would make me run

Mommy: No, you can’t force people to do things. They have to want to do it

Me: Well I’ve always thought I would have made a great runner

Mommy: You’re too dainty for that (you hear the vote of confidence? Hmph lol)

Me: Well I’d give them a dainty sprint

Dainty sprint to the world 🙂

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Driving Downtown Kingston, Jamaica

I don’t know my way around downtown AT ALL, and much to my chagrin I had to go to Duke Street the other day.  I usually let Mommy follow me if I have to do something down there because she knows her way but on that day I mussi was feeling like Dora and went alone, relying solely on Google Maps. It helps me all the time so I figured I had this covered. Nutten like me and Google. I started out at East Queens Street and followed the directions but in no time I was lost. I wasn’t seeing the streets or landmarks it was highlighting.  Why would Google Maps choose downtown to fail me?  Why?  Maybe it was just me, and not the fault of Google Maps.  I don’t know.  Sigh. I’ll have you know I was lost downtown for an hour.  I kid you not.  No exaggeration.  I was getting really annoyed and just started driving blindly, stopping now and then to try and follow Google but still having no luck.  By the way, the fact that there are all these one ways did not help one bit.

I asked a man for directions and bwoy better I never bothered ’cause all I ended up doing was nodding stupidly fully well knowing I had no clue what he was saying to me.  All the same, I gave a big smile and drove off into what was still the unknown.  At one point I passed by Charles Street and saw the police stretching yellow tape across the road. You know who nearly freaked out, right?  I was thinking look how I come downtown and guh get caught in madness and don’t even know where to turn now.  My paranoia was short lived as it turned out they were blocking off the road to facilitate JPS working on the power lines.

I was ALL OVER downtown – Charles Street, Port Royal Street, passed KPH twice (yup I apparently was going in circles), Orange Street, by the park, King Street and lo and behold I ended up all the way on Studio One Blvd too. Yes, that’s right, clueless me drove till I reached all the way to Cross Roads so I had to restart my journey to get downtown lol. I thought perhaps I would do better but nope, no such luck. Forgot to say I even ended up in Rae Town. That’s when I was like Lord have mercy, how the hell did I get here and had to reverse quick quick lol .  Not because I was thinking it’s a bad area, but I knew I was way off course when I saw the Rae Town sign.  I was near Rum Lane or maybe it was Rosemary Lane at one point and bwoy I started to panic ’cause I neva see nuh cars and started feeling maybe I shouldn’t be there.

Feeling frustrated and on the verge of tears (trust me the tears were right there ready to come), I decided to just head back to my office.  Great idea, oh but wait…how do I get out of downtown to get there?  *tears hair out*  More frustration.  Well I drove and drove till I ended up in Denham Town.  Don’t ask. I just drove and that’s where I ended up. Luckily I could find my way out from there.

And here endeth my adventure downtown. Never again!!!! You could tell me a million dollars is waiting for me downtown and I have to come alone to get it. Well, I wouldn’t get that money.

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The Chronicles of Mommy and Me: Keeping it Real

Life Lesson

There’s never a dull moment with my mother.  We were driving the other day and had this conversation:

Me: Mommy that man in the truck beside us keeps staring at me. Ughh. Its so annoying

We drove for a bit and he pulled up beside us and gave me a big smile.  Men will catch me at one of two extremes depending on my mood; smiling and very pleasant or annoyed.  Unfortunately for this man it was the latter.  I gave him a sour face accompanied by a nod to acknowledge him.

Mommy: The man must be thinking ‘What an unpleasant girl.’

Me: (shocked and laughing) Seriously Mommy?  You should be on my side and thinking what a creep.

I went on to say I hate when they ask for a minute of my time.  Seems I was on a roll being a real sourpuss lol.

Mommy: (laughing) You know how he probably had to work up the courage just to smile with you?  That’s why sometimes you see ugly men with good looking girls and you wonder how they ended up together.  You know why?  He had confidence and approached her!

Me: (cracking up) Alright Mommy, enough of you now lol

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The Stoplight Chronicles: Taking my Kindness for Weakness

Annoyed Face

I lamented to my Facebook friends recently about persons approaching me on the street with all sorts of concocted stories, and begging for money.  For my readers outside of Jamaica, you’ll see a little Patois used but you’ll be able to follow 🙂

The other day I pulled up to a stoplight and had my windows down (not the smartest thing).  I scanned the area and figured everything was good because the only suspect looking person was a man standing on the island with his back to me, about to cross the road. I started fiddling with the radio and the next thing I knew the man was at my window.  I frighten yuh si.  I must have either jumped or popped my eyes out because he said, “Miss please doe frighten.  Please miss.”  Doe frighten? Too late lol. I moved to turn up my window, and sounding quite distraught and baffled he said, “Why everybody turning up dem window? I doe understand. Why everybody in Kingston stay suh?”  Umm maybe because you’re frightening us lol.

Anyway, he starts telling me he’s from St. Thomas (just to clarify for overseas readers, this isn’t in reference to the island St. Thomas. It’s a parish in Jamaica)  He said he got a flat tyre or something and that the police gave him some money towards fixing it but he needs $X more.  I can’t remember how much he said.  He went on to say that he has fish in his car and that he would give me some if I give him the money towards his vehicle.  Please tell me why I would really want fish from this strange man?  Coulda all say it come from the sea of Galilee…it’s ok, no thanks.  He may have been lying about having car trouble but I just said well that’s between him and God.  I gave him some money and he said thanks, but would you believe he asked if I can’t give him the entire amount he asked for? Lol.  Mister man, here endeth my kindness because I don’t even know if you’re telling the truth.  I left him to find someone else to beg.

Ironically, after I posted about it on Facebook friends commented saying they too had encountered this same man, with this same story.  Just like me, they had been fooled.  He moves around to different areas scamming persons.  This just served to make my conviction even stronger that I am going to begin exercising great caution with my kindness.

I’ve even gotten scammed by persons who have been telling the same story for over eleven years.  I came home and told my mother about helping them and she enlightened me letting me know that she and my father had come across those very same persons with the same story years ago.  So after countless encounters like these, I’m on a break from beggars (Kindness yuh hear that? Keep yourself quiet) unless they have some type of deformity.  It’s always some ‘horse dead, cow fat’ story (as the saying goes).  I can’t always tell when they’re genuine so right about now, the good are going to have to suffer for the bad.  It’s very unfortunate it had to come to this but I have to take these measures to ensure this doesn’t happen anymore.

I’m feeling extremely weary of grown, hearty looking people who look at me as a young girl and have no qualms about stretching their hand out to me to beg.  I’m here budgeting and prioritizing and you just want the easy way out?  It’s like I’m afraid to leave the house.  They’re everywhere.  I have the urge to download Barrington Levy’s ‘Every Posse Must Work’ and play it when they approach me.  I have money because I work.  You should try it some time.

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Sorry about the video quality

Get Over Yourself

I was at the Plaza today and was walking towards my car when I heard a lady shout, “Miss!” I turned around feeling a bit hesitant but thought that perhaps I had dropped something so she was trying to get my attention. My hesitation was further fueled when I scanned the ground and realized I hadn’t dropped anything. Standing a short distance away from me was a lady holding a little girl’s hand. Here it comes, I thought – she’s about to beg me and she’s using the child to get sympathy. I’ve been scammed into giving money to persons in the past and I was wondering if this was the usual scenario about to play out, plus on almost a daily basis I’m begged and sometimes it gets to be too much.

She calls out again, “Miss! Come here please.” Umm why didn’t SHE walk over to ME? I was very reluctant to walk over to this strange woman. In these times you have to be extra careful, plus if she was in fact begging and I decided I wanted to give her money, I did not feel comfortable to stop and take out my purse right there. I took two steps towards her then changed my mind, turned around and continued walking towards my car, shaking my head to signify ‘no’ as I did so. She was not deterred. “Miss! I’m not begging you anything. I just want to ask you a question.” Ughh. I had a quick ‘dialogue’ in my head about it then once again I started walking towards her but stopped a safe distance away. She had an annoyed look on her face as though to say she doesn’t know what my problem is. You know what she said next? “Miss, I just wanted to ask you where you got your handbag.” Hahahaha I felt sooooooo silly. I apologized and explained to her I get stopped very often by persons begging.  She said she understands but despite saying that, the ‘what’s her problem’ look did not leave her face lol.  Now why couldn’t she have just said from the very start that she likes my handbag and then asked her question? It would have saved me the two step and the embarrassment.

My expression

Lady's expression

Lady’s expression

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How Google Saved Me

passport
You’ve experienced this before; you’ve misplaced something and had absolutely no idea where you put it This happened to me recently. What did I lose? My passport, of all things. I sent my friend a voice note about what happened and it amused her to the point she told me I had to share this in a vlog lol. I intended to do the vlog but somehow here I am writing instead of doing a video.

Back to me losing my passport.  I was completing a form and it required that I include my passport number. Gone are the days I worked with an airline and tickets were so inexpensive that my passport number was imprinted in my memory. I was forced to get up and go look at the number. No problem, or so I thought. I went to the spot I keep my passport but alas, there was nothing there. I was quite alarmed because this is where it’s always been. I thought back to when I last saw it and remembered that I had done a transaction at the bank that required two forms of identification. I had taken my passport and driver’s license. I searched around a bit more and when I still couldn’t find it I came to the conclusion that perhaps the rep at the bank had forgotten to give it back to me. There was however the nagging feeling that it was right here at home with me. The memory of me being at home and seeing it in my handbag after coming from the bank came to me and I really wasn’t certain if it was just me being hopeful or if it was a reality.

Well, the next day I called the bank and spoke with the rep who confirmed my passport was not left there. Hmm did he look properly? Was it really still there or was it somewhere in my house? I tore my room apart looking for it and still nothing. I then had the bright idea to call the supermarket because I had gone there after the bank. Perhaps it fell out of my handbag when I had taken out my purse at the cashier. They checked their log book for lost and found items and nope, it wasn’t there. Of course I was feeling very distressed by then. I had expanded my search to the rest of the house and even looked in unlikely places and still couldn’t find it. Not even the kitchen, bathrooms and car were spared from ‘Operation Find Passport’.

I forgot to mention that something else popped into my mind; there were some workmen in my room and I thought there was the possibility I had taken my passport from its usual spot and put it elsewhere to ensure it would be safe. Don’t ask me what I thought they were going to do with it in the unlikely event they came across it. That was me being paranoid and dramatic.

My frustration started to get the best of me and there were times I just bawled. I was particularly overwhelmed because I didn’t know if my search was futile; was it even in my house or did it fall out somewhere while I was on the road? Also, how long before I should give up the search and just go ahead and start the process to reapply? I was afraid to go ahead with reapplying, pay and so forth, and then bam it appears (that would be just my luck).

I should have also told you that I lost my passport during the time that fees were increased so I was bombarded with people talking about passports. In my state of frustration and having no idea where mine was, that was the last thing I wanted to discuss. Every time I went on Facebook there was someone posting about it. Grrrr. I would drive by the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) office some mornings and ughh I couldn’t miss the long line of people outside the building.

I decided to call PICA. Maybe someone had found it and turned it in! My glimmer of hope reappeared. Unfortunately PICA couldn’t even help me initially. They were very busy as their office was flooded with people.  They told me that they could not spare any manpower to check the log and I was therefore told to call back the following week. I did so and surprise, surprise; it was not there.

Well, I kept praying that I would find it and my family and friends prayed for me too. After wishing, hoping and praying and not making any headway, what’s the next step? For me it was Google (bet you didn’t see that coming). More specifically, it was hypnosis; I Googled ‘How to hypnotize yourself to find something you’ve lost’. Yes, I sound crazy, but after being at it for 2 months I was desperate. I clicked the first video that came up. A man with a soothing voice started speaking and I began feeling a little scared. My thoughts were this – suppose this is something demonic and I end up possessed. That’s right, count on me to be dramatic. I put the thought to the back of my mind and continued to listen to the man. The basic gist of it was him speaking about relaxing and envisioning the misplaced item.  You should have heard it.  “You come to a staircase. Now walk down the stairs, taking deep breaths as you go down each step.  At the bottom of the staircase is a book with the picture of the item you have misplaced.”  Madness, right?

At the end of it I got out of bed (feeling very relaxed might I add) and for some reason I headed straight towards the linen closet. I opened the closet door and was about to start rummaging but decided against this. It was after midnight and the proximity of my mother’s room to the closet meant I would disturb her. I aborted my mission and decided to look in the closet the following day when I got home from work. I followed through with this and would you believe I found my passport in there?!!!! I was beyond excited. I jumped up and down, I hugged my mother, thanked God, did my happy dance. I was soooo happy. Gee I’m left to think that doing that hypnosis thing really worked. I think perhaps it relaxed me to the point that I accessed my subconscious thoughts. Who knows…I just know that Google saved me 😀

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The Stoplight Chronicles: What Are You Thankful For?

gratitude

I was at a stoplight and was approached by a boy coming to wipe my windshield.  He always spots me.  I had to ask, “But wait, you’re going to wipe my windshield every time you see me?”  He offered a big smile in response and started wiping away.  He then said, “I bought a pair of sandals yesterday. $600!”  He was grinning from ear to ear, obviously quite thrilled with his purchase.  “See them here!” he said excitedly, and gestured for me to look.  I stuck my head out the window to inspect and complimented him, telling him that he had gotten a great deal. His smile spread even more, if that was even possible.

I drove off laughing and thinking he’s something else to be begging and here telling me about a pair of sandals he bought. Almost as soon as I thought that, it then came to me that maybe the sandals he was wearing yesterday were falling apart and that he was in dire need of new ones.  Picturing his bright smile and how excited he was about a $600 pair of sandals then touched me and humbled me.  Look at what he is so thrilled about.  It makes you stop and think and put your own life into perspective.  What are you thankful for today?

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