Times are tough and for some of us, we spend our lives trying to make a living; for some trying to survive.
On a recent trip back home, of which I was excited about, mostly to see my family and close friends, I experienced a rather bittersweet time. My land of birth, my little rock in the sea, was certainly not like I had imagined it to be. Yes, things have changed and everyone have moved on to another point in their life, but I was hoping for a little nostalgia.
The minute I stepped foot in the airport, the expecting feeling of nostalgia was quickly evaporated. Every single face that I looked upon was seriously sour. I get it, we all have our bad days, but a place where you come in contact with people on a daily basis should not be a place where you take your personal problems and lash out on others.
“If you are Jamaican, join this line”, said the customer care personnel, as she pointed to the line. She was trying very hard to speak Standard English, but the dialect chipped in, in every other word.
“Passport numba missing, guh over there and fill it in!” she then said to us as soon as she looked at our custom declaration forms.We obliged and proceeded to the next step of the ridiculously long line.
I mean, it was not so bad up until we got to the actual line for declaration. This is when we realize that everyone seriously wanted to ‘eat a food’.
We had nothing to declare, the extra item was an electronic item, that did not require any form of declaration, but once it was seen, we were horridly and aggressively directed to the red line. Other individuals were complaining as well. One particular individual was emptying the contents of his suitcase and all I could see was his clothing and other personal items all out on display for everyone’s eyes. In the end there was nothing for him to declare and the custom agent/officer was quite upset and aggressively told him to pack back his items in his suitcase and hurry and move out of the line.
It was our turn and we had the receipt for the item that was to be ‘declared’. We showed it to the custom officer. He looked at it and with a very angry look on his face said,
“Write wah else unuh have in a unuh suitcase and push it tru di scanner.” My spouse wrote clothes and shoes, which is exactly what we had in our suitcases. We once again obliged and proceeded through the line. Upon exiting the declaration area, there was nothing to pay for or confiscate, so our very ‘kind’ custom officer simply grabbed the forms from my hand and looked the other way. I gather she was upset that she didn’t get to ‘eat a food’ from us.
<<Rewind… two months back.
We made reservations for a car from Budget Car Rentals for the duration of our time there. We got our confirmation and the price for the rental.
Fast Forward >>
We approach Budget Car Rental’s desk and stated that we made a reservation for a car. The representative asked for the last name it was reserved under and looked up the information.
“Its $1000 deposit and $738 for the car.” said the rep.
We showed her the email with the reservation and the price that we were given for the rental and told her that we will be using our Discover card to pay, since it covers insurance for car rentals internationally.
She looked up, with a changed facial expression and said “We nuh have nuh cyar!”
Imagine the shocked expression on our faces.
Panicked stricken and trying to go to plan B (there was no plan B!), we asked,
“What do you mean you do not have any cars, we made a reservation?”
According to her, all the cars are out and the one that we were to get was extended and wasn’t back.
How can you make a reservation for something, you didn’t cancel it and when you go to get it, it is not there?
She then stated that she was going to try and source a car, from where I don’t know, and if we would wait. What choice did we have really? In the meantime, we were asking around other car rental agencies if they had cars, they said they didn’t. We were so naïve to what was actually going on.
Another employee came out and thank God he did, because we would have probably had it worse than we did. He checked to see if we were getting through and I explained to him the issue we were having (This was 1 hour later after talking with the first rep). He went and checked, came back and said there is a car; however, we have to wait about an hour to an hour and a half to get it. We agreed to wait.
“Jus leave unuh bags dem deh suh and wait on the outside by the restaurant” he said to us.
Ah… NO! We are not leaving our luggage unattended!
We proceeded outside with our luggage to wait.
It’s getting dark, we are tired, and we have a far way to go and no car.
A gentle man came over to check if we were ok. We relayed the situation with him and he said hold one. He came back with another gentle man and said he has a car he can rent us.
We told him we made a reservation with Budget and they have no cars. He looked at the reservation and said,
“Den a how unuh get dat deh low price deh, a peak season now?”
We said we booked it two months ago. He goes on to say, that Budget has cars and showed us the cars neatly parked in the parking lot and said that because we are getting it for the price we showed him, they are holding out to the highest bidder.
We asked him how much for the car he was renting and he said $850 plus we have to pay deposit and insurance. We told him we are not going to pay $850 to rent a car, he went down to $650, and we refused. We said we are using a Discover card and it covers deposit and insurance internationally. He went on to say that it doesn’t work in Jamaica only in the United States. I said to him that it does, there is an international clause that states that it covers car rental insurance and deposit.
Hear him nuh, “Is only Visa and MasterCard work a Jamaica.”
My spouse then said to him, “It is a MasterCard!” X_X
To show you how he has no clue as to what he is talking about, he kindly closed his mouth and said nothing more. He obviously didn’t know the different types of cards and was just running on pure air!
“Mi kno wey a gwaan dung yah enuh, suh nuh bodda wid it” I said to him. Apparently he was not hearing the patois in my voice and was coming with some exorbitant prices to rent a car.
We then asked how much it is to just take us into Kingston; he went away and came back with another guy and stated that it would be $200. Kiss mi neck back, $200 just to go into Kingston?! Once more we refused.
By this time an hour had passed and I saw the Budget Rep coming over. To our surprise, she went directly to the man who wanted to rent us the car for $850. He blatantly, with no regards that we are standing there said,
“Den a how yuh manage fi mek dem get it at dat deh price deh?”
We didn’t pay it much mind, as the other rep was directing us towards a shuttle to go and get the now available car.
We were shuttled to another location, which is a completely different car rental company to get ‘the car that we reserved with Budget’.
In the end we didn’t quite put two and two together yet, we were just happy (well… my spouse was fuming!) we got a car that was functioning and could take us into Kingston.
Its rough out there, but it’s absurd to see what lengths people will go to, to get more money from others. No one is better than the other; however, it is opportunities that allow some of us to stand a better chance at surviving. I love my country, but trying to swindle others out of their hard earned money is past ridiculous. I can’t imagine what an actual tourist goes through.
P.S. The car had no back brake!
———–> part two to come!