A ‘Nostalgic’ Vacation? (Part 1)

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!

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What happen to good manners?

<< Rewind…

Going home from the supermarket and you pass Mr. Jones on the way.

“Good Afternoon Mr. Jones!”

Fast Forward >>…

Going home from the supermarket and you pass Mr. Jones on the way.

*Looks at Mr. Jones and keep on walking*

The difference is quite obvious, manners is lacking greatly.

Growing up and spending quite an amount of time with my grandmother, I was taught to respect my elders at all times, be kind and most of all, have manners to whomever I come in contact with.

“Manners carry yuh trough di worl.” — That’s a favorite saying that my grandmother would repeatedly say to me growing up and I would literally try to see how that would be possible. I suppose I was thinking about the physicality of it actually carrying you through the world, you know, like a car carrying you around. Now as an adult, I fully understand what that saying means.

I see where children respond to their parents or their elders in ways I would never dare dream of doing, not even now as an adult. First of all I would certainly receive a wonderful box to the face, if I dear fix my mouth to respond to my mother in any way, shape or form that is disrespectful.

I remember I was told to put some washing soap in the machine and start the cycle. I could not find the soap for the life of me, so I went and ask my mother if she had seen the soap. She didn’t know where it was either and I don’t know where my smack mouth got the courage to utter the words ” yuh sure yuh nuh kno wey it deh, because yuh maybe use it and nuh put it back?” I mean, it might not look like something that was bad to say to my mother, however, the tone in which I said it was beyond disrespectful. My mother gave me a look that if looks could kill, I would have rolled over and died! I immediately regretted what I had said and left the room before things got even more serious. She doesn’t play when it comes on to having manners!

Answering people with ‘what’, ‘yes’ and ‘so’ is, in my eyes rude. Yes who? Yes Dumpling! Yes Yam… Yes Whom?? You could be a small child or a grown adult, manners is very important and you are never too old to have good manners.

Say “Thank you!” When someone holds the door for you.

Say “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening!” When you pass someone by or persons that you come in contact with.

Say “Please!”

Apologize sincerely and mean it. “I am sorry” has never killed anyone.

Granted because some of us are/were raised lacking manners, we may not comprehend when someone is showing an act of kindness, worst if it’s random, it would come across as the individual being ‘weird’.

Nowadays, parents are afraid to be strict with their child/children because they are afraid of bruising their personalities. Discipline is lacking greatly, because manners are through the door.

I have witnessed a child literally going back and forth with his mother in public and the mother just allowed it. Ah, hell no! First of all if that child was raised with good values then he would not even think to open his mouth and utter any word/s of disrespect. Mind you, kids will be kids, however, parents needs to know when to nip it in the bud. Don’t have the “spare the rod and spoil the child” mentality.

Its not just children that lack manners these days. As soon as we hit the adult mark, we tend to forget our manners. We think that we are now grown and can do what we please without considering others. Simple etiquette is gone and we become such aggressive and senseless beings. Sometimes over simple things.

Having good manners shows acts of kindness and respect and is super important in our daily lives. We use it to make a good impression on other persons and it makes us feel good about ourselves as well. No matter where you  or who you are, manners are the building blocks of each of us whether it be at home, work, or with friends.

Good manners are more than just opening a door and replying “thank you.” While opening a door and saying thank you is nice, true courtesy goes deeper. Because some of us may do or say it and not mean it. Being polite and courteous means considering how others are feeling as well.

Once we practice good manners, we are showing those around us that we are considerate of their feelings and we are respectful. We are also setting standards for others’ behavior and encouraging them to treat us with the same respect as well.

Every culture and individual may have different protocols and feelings about what is polite from what is not polite. The goal, however, is to review some of the more basic and common rules of polite behavior in our society. No matter how much these rules may differ from person to person or situation to situation, the general and basic rule of good manners—and life, in general, is simple and easy to follow- do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

 

Good Manners is priceless!

Living in Jamaica and being gay

Jamaica is known for many reasons; one of which is the country that is extremely homophobic and their intolerance level for gay people is at its highest. It is always “bun a batty boy or bun a sadamite.” I personally find it awfully offensive and hurtful when I hear those words from another individual and I am not being bias. I believe that I was born gay— to some extent. From a tender age I was always attracted to the same sex. I use to go over to my pastor’s granddaughter house to ‘play’ and she would always be coming on to me and even though I was young (eight years old) I found it very comforting and I reciprocated the gestures that I was receiving, mind you I had no clue as to what it is that I was doing and it felt awesome. I wasn’t even question about being there so often, because it was me being at play.

I grew up in church (Pentecostal) and I was always taught that being gay is wrong and is an abomination to God, therefore I have always pushed the feeling of being attracted to the same sex away, besides I didn’t understand what those feelings meant. Liking boys was the norm and I delve into that norm, hoping to feel normal. But even though I was trying to feel ‘normal’ by talking to boys, I felt no form of attraction towards boys, there was simply no chemistry. Also I was more confused than anything because my parents would say “not until you are forty (40)” when a boy would come to the gate, trying to talk to me. Therefore I was scared to even talk to boys. Girls could come over and it would be OK, because it’s considered ‘OK’.

I started dating my first girlfriend at eighteen (18) and it felt like the real me and to me it felt like the norm. Of course I couldn’t tell my parents about it; hence I hid it or was in the closet as what some people call it. My step dad found a letter that I hid and immediately told my mother about it and lets just say it didn’t go down well. I was told that God did not make Adam and Steve and its wrong. It didn’t change my feelings and I didn’t stop seeing her, however it was done in the closet and I would deny it to my parents as well. She couldn’t drop me off at the gate and she was no longer allowed to come to the house.

It was quite easy for me to be out in public with another female, because it was more tolerable. I however did not do anything to offend anyone and I lived by “It’s my life and I live how I want to, however I won’t push it in anyone’s face.”

For the most part being in Jamaica and being gay is rough because persons will get mobbed and to some extent I was scared. I hated walking on the road with my partner especially when she dresses a little less feminine. It was evident that we were together and men would make sly remarks about us wanting a ‘cocky’ instead of tongue in our ‘pussies’. There was no major harassment, however I could not be the real me because it was looked down upon and I was scared of being mobbed. When my partner and I go out, whether to the supermarket or just to have a meal all eyes are on us and you can just see person’s minds turning. We have never really encountered any major issues and that is solely based on us being in the closet. That ‘code of living’ seems to work while living in Jamaica and it makes it easier for us to get around.

Being in another country other than Jamaica has granted me the privilege of being me, it is much easier for me to go about my business and not be judged or looked down upon. It felt so good to be able to walk out in public and hold my partner’s hands and even sneak a kiss or two. No one cares. I still don’t push anything in anyone’s face.

I believe it’s our life and we live it how we deemed it fit. Jamaica, I believe will never accept homosexuality and that in itself is OK; because its just our culture and religion.

Anyone should be able to live their life how they want to and be who they want to without being scared of society. Bottom line, if you are gay and living in Jamaica, you have to live in a closet.

Are you a soldier of Love OR plain stupid?

The heart tends to fall for who it wants, without even considering what the mind wants. It deciphers its own feelings and interprets them on its own free will.

Being in love is one of the greatest and most intense feelings you can ever experience in your life. Love is a powerful emotion. It can drive you crazy, it causes hurt in the most painful and heart wrenching way, but most of all what we seek from the feeling is a creation of happiness and a bond of two souls as one.

When you enter into an intimate relationship, it is an obvious expectation that you will give your all. In my view and my partner’s, you should give your “heart, soul and batty hole”.  That person becomes your everything and you can sit in silence with your partner and still enjoy each other’s company. This is the person you can be as goofy as possible with and at the same time be serious when needed. You expect that it all should be reciprocated, but lo and behold you are the only one giving….immediate red flag!

Just like the game of football, obtaining a red card means you have exceeded your warnings and you have to sit out the current game as well as the next. In a relationship, when a red flag goes up, it means that there is a constant occurrence of a particular issue(s), or an occurrence of a really huge one. Does this mean that it’s time to jump ship? Or are you willing to test your strength to see how much of a true soldier of love you are?

How much are you willing to sacrifice in the name of LOVE? Are you going to just sit, with your hands tied behind your back, while you are being tortured? Are you that foolish to stay while you are constantly being hurt, your feelings are constantly being crushed, your mental and physical health are hanging by a thread and on top of it all you are expected to give a “good whine”? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes sex does solve some of the issues, as a little tension may need to be release to heal the wounds of the relationship. However if the wounds are constantly being opened, then all shops should remain closed.  If this is what you endure, then hats off to you. In my opinion and trust me, you are plain stupid. As my fellow Jamaican women would say, “If him nah beat mi, him nuh love mi”. Need I say more?! It’s pretty clear that you are a soldier of love who needs to go back to basic training.

On the other hand you can be experiencing all the hurt and pain in the relationship, but as soon as you put your foot down and stand firm, your partner (given that this person is a rational human being) will realize that they are indeed hurting you and genuinely step their game up, making the relationship worthwhile and lasting. If that is the case, THEN you can perform the “boom wuk”.

In the end, it’s up to you to know how much you are willing to take and endure. It is better and healthier to be single, than sitting in a hurtful relationship. Do not be scared to be “you” in the relationship and express how you really feel. Love yourself first before you can love others. Go through the struggles and tests, but be sure to check your feelings at the end of each test. Only a true soldier of love will know when to decipher the thin line between love and stupidity.

Tattered-love (TL)

Seeing that I already shared my views, I wanted you guys to have alternative views, so I asked Kerry, a friend of mine to weigh in on the topic. What say you Kerry? 

So, time and again you ask yourself, “Am I really doing this?” “Do I really want this?” Two fundamental questions that are asked in every relationship, but if you find yourself sitting and asking these questions too often, it means that there are some red flags in this partnership that need to be looked at and assessed. Think of all the extremes that you have gone through as a couple, and look at where you are now. Was it worth it? Think of all the times that you played together, laughed, watched the tv, just took the time out to look at each other, and when the hardest of times hit, you could push through, work it out and stand together as soldiers of love. Love is never definite, and so its rare that persons go the extra mile, because no-one wants to put in the extra work, that’s when there’s trouble in the camp. Never be confused though, there is a difference between being a soldier of love, and being naive/foolish in love. Love is great, the down side to it, is that it can be the most painful experience ever in life. Not because you’re loving someone means they are loving you back the way they ought to, trust me, to be in a relationship where you are loving this person and they are doing more harm to you than good with the relationship, means that you’re being naïve for believing this is only what you can get, and foolish for not thinking you deserve better. But because you feel/believe/think you can do no better in finding that someone who is just right for you, you remain in this hurtful situation. Being single and happy, is better than being in a relationship and still feeling alone, there is a fine line between love/hurt/hate and only true Soldiers of Love will be able to differentiate and determine their fate. What it all comes down to is that sometimes you will never know. There are some relationships that have the most rocky beginnings, where one or both partners thought of leaving countless times, and in the end, the problems they were going through get sorted out and they end up having the best of relationships. What this means is that each relationship is different, each person in the relationship has to decide what they are willing to bear. If you find yourself staying in a relationship where the person is putting you through more than you can bear and yet you stay, then you might be a fool for love. My opinion is that you should set some boundaries with your partner and hold firm to them. If you tell your partner that whatever they’re doing is hurting you and the relationship, yet when they continue you stay with them, then they will continue to do what they’re doing, because they realize that you’re not going to leave. You might be thinking that you cannot do without your partner but as I stated earlier, in my opinion it is better to be single and happy. Don’t take this to mean that I’m encouraging everyone experiencing problems in their relationships to pack up and leave, that’s not the case. Every relationship has problems, and many of them can be worked out, but when those problems become a threat to your mental and physical health, then its time to let Houston know you’ve got a problem. In simple terms, every relationship has its own unique problems, you have to decide when they are too much for you to bear and take action like a good soldier of love ought to.

K.M.D.