An Important "Tesson" for Brand Jamaica

PREFACE (lol…seriously)
It’s amazing how the time to write blog posts comes around so sporadically these days. Absolutely nothing can be going on for a while and then POW! You get pricked by the pen of inspiration! Not inspiration like the Bible (duuuuh), but a sudden urge to write J. Why do I even mention this? Well, to tell you the truth, this blog post should have been written MONTHS AGO! From as far back as September to be precise, but I just could never find the time, nor the drive to put the words together until now. After what just happened? I have to write about this now**. The power of Tessanne compels me!
**I wrote most of this on Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 between 1:30 to about 3:30p.m. with some editing afterwards at about 1:30am Thursday.
I actually had a few jottings—well—exactly 3 lines (all completely unrelated to each other), of things I was going to highlight in this post. At the time—in September as I told you—the Voice was just kicking off, and Tessanne Chin was just beginning her journey of awesomeness and “Bread n Butta”-ness. She was the last point I had in mind to mention for this post, but with her recent victory on NBC’s “The Voice” mi haffi talk bout Chinita good body [voice] first!
Let me just say first of all, that I am EXCEEDINGLY GLAD that the competition is over now. It’s not because I didn’t want to hear Tess—who still owes me a performance of an Adele song, and a rendition of “O Holy Night” (really only because I think she would nail them)—because I did want to hear her; it’s not because I saved money on car insurance (I actually have Geico for real :D), or because I’m #TeamBadmindMichaelCuffe, I promise is not dat! So “why Alwayne?” you may ask.
Weeeell, the schedulers of my evening job, (which I am glad for because a guy’s got bills and a family—as in my father’s family, you know, due to how I am wifeless and childless still…) they decided to schedule me to work for four (4) consecutive Monday nights, and three (3) consecutive Tuesday nights right up until the final (which I still haven’t seen)! So you know what that meant? NO VOICE FOR ALWAYNE! NOT EVEN THE RESULTS SHOW! And because of the hours I work (8:00a.m.-4:30p.m., then 5pm-12:00am) I had no time to even watch the episodes online! Mi did cussid grieve! Gotta tell my sister thanks for waiting up for me to get home in the nights and showing me the performances, or else I wouldn’t have a clue what was going on. Now that it’s over, and my Jamaican girl has won, I can rest easy and work relatively happily again, knowing I’m no longer missing anything. I still blame adulthood and responsibilities though.

*****
Chapter Only…
(I’ll give you a minute to get that.)

As the curtains on Season 5 of NBC’s “The Voice” closed with our Jamaican diva and Superstar Tessanne Chin being crowned champion, a nation has been filled with extreme pride and jubilation at the success of our own countrywoman. Watching her carry herself humbly and gracefully with her patriotic air, we cannot help but be proud. Whether we were fans before The Voice or we have just made ourselves honorary members of #TeamTessanne, as a country we have the right to be happy for her huge accomplishment. Since most people have posted all the clever stuff relating to her victory over Twitter, Facebook, and even this awesome poem in the Jamaica Observer, I won’t dwell on it anymore, but I’ll just say CONGRATULATIONS TESSANNE! I LOVE YOU! Thanks for replying to my tweet that one time and all the best for the future Miss Superstar! Since you probably will never see this, I’ll just pretend you actually read my blog and you told me thank you ^_^

You’re very welcome Tess-Tess J
*****
Now to the issue at hand: Fixing Brand Jamaica.
Can it ever really be fixed though? Does the Jamaican government want it to be fixed? Does the country on a whole want it to be fixed? What is being done to fix it, outside of individual brilliance that we all piggy back on by the literal and proverbial Tessannes, Usains and Shelly-Anns out there?
There are quite a few countries making money from ‘Brand Jamaica’ to the country’s detriment, and nobody’s doing anything about it. OR, if anything is being done, I just haven’t heard about it yet— blame my work schedule. If you know what’s happening to combat the problem though, feel free to inform me where I’m misinformed. But seriously, I know there’s been a lot of talk, and you could even say I’m just talking too, but it’s my blog, and I’m not getting paid for it (YET!) so I can talk and say what I want; but for the folks who ARE getting paid to fix it, what in Portia’s name is going on? You know what? Don’t even answer that. Mind sharp it guh get tax too.

I know of agencies like JIPO (Jamaica Intellectual Property Office) JAMPRO that deal with branding the country’s goods, but how has their fight been going with regards to protecting the ownership of what is truly Jamaican and ensuring that all benefits of these products and concepts are being meted out to the rightful owners? Imagine my disgust when I saw these in a U.S. Supermarket in Flordia (3 items, front and back):

   

Are we (Jamaicans) getting paid for them? I highly doubt that.
I remember when I was working in news, Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke made a presentation in parliament on how other countries have been branding some other counterfeit from ‘woi woi’(wherever that is) as the well loved and extremely popular Blue Mountain Coffee. Who’s being punished or held accountable for this? Don’t worry; I’ll be right here when you find out.

You know seh your consumption went up after she said it!
What’s my point in all this? Well, brethren and friends, this little island Jamaica, a little island of 2.7 million people, has become such a global force in anythingits citizens put hard work into that it took only one, in the form of a Tessanne Chin to come to America, a land of about 315 million people, and win The Voice. Her involvement probably made this the most watched season everthus far, as not only Jamaicans in the country and the Diaspora watched, but other Caribbean nationals tuned in to see her. As a Jamaican living in America, it was refreshing to see how a competition which caters mainly to Americans (as evident by limited voting methods and restrictions to those outside America) could be taken over by our small country because of one person. And sure enough, true to the stereotype that Jamaicans will always find a way to circumvent the system, most of the ones outside America found a way to vote anyway. Don’t even let me mention how Tessanne’s innocent use of the term ‘Bread n butta’ became her popular internet tag line used by her supporters. Not to brag or anything—even though she is clearly the BestTess—but it just goes to show how talented our people are. This little dot on the map has the world 100 and 200 metre champions—male and female. A legend like Bob Marley is known and revered in musical circles everywhere! For crying out loud, a packet of Grace Cock Soup was just on The Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno! That’s HUGE! A little fun fact: If you divide the U.S. population by Jamaica’s population, it would take 116+ Islands of Jamaica to populate the U.S.A. Imagine that!
Look at how one songbird united a nation to watch a programme most of its people would scoff at! Look at how she caused many a person to lose precious sleep, just so they could watch her shine. Look at how many became marketers and promoters for their countrywoman to their friends and family living abroad! Look at how much joy a nation possesses now that she has been decided the winner; as she is now (and always has been), “The Voice”! I hope Captain’s Bakery and all the other bread companies in Jamaica, as well as other corporate sponsors are lining up to create Bread n Butta with her face on it for real, before some other country does while we sit and watch and cuss at how dem tief wi plan. 
The Olympics/World Championships and now the just concluded Season 5 of NBC’s“The Voice” have been unifying for the country of Jamaica. Once we hear seh someone/something is Jamaican, all if we nuh know them, we support them, because really, we are the greatest country of waggonists, like it or not. But, at least we always team up to support our own.
People of Jamaica; the country is yours. The country is mine. It’s Tessanne’s, Usain’s, and Bob Marley’s. It’s ours! The name Jamaica is known everywhere, and it sells everywhere! The food sells, the tourism product sells, the music sells, our athletics sell; EVERYTHING good about Jamaica sells! Maybe they don’t all sell well in Jamaica, but best believe they sell in other parts of the world.

We remember the VW Superbowl Ad, and then the other controversial German Flag Burning Ad. Sure everyone didn’t like them, but because they had elements of Jamaica in them; like it or not, people watched! That’s exactly what the makers wanted. Mi tiyad fi see people a mek money offa wi. Wi need fi start mek money offa wi self! Let’s reclaim our brand and build our land!
P.s. Sir Usain Bolt, you’re Jamaican. Yuh a yawdie!!! Best sprinter the world has seen! Please, with the utmost respect, mi a beg yuh fi do like Tessanne. “Talk di tings!” locally and on International T.V. Lose the accent. Do, wi a beg yuh. Be distinctly Jamaican! If anybody can teach the world patois, it’s you!
Photo credit: Theguardian.com
 Peace.
By the way! Check out this AWESOME post by my NCU batch and blogmate Randy Goldson on what Tessanne’s win means to Jamaica and what a very popular Jamaican icon would say!
#TeamTessanne #TeamChinitaGoodaz #TeamAdam #TeamJAMAICA!

A few (Obvious) SIGNIFICANT things better about Jamaica than America

Before my Jamaican friends back home kill me off for my title, let me just state right now that wherever you live in the world: Paris, France; Brussels, Belgium; Melbourne, Australia or Trench Town, Jamaica; there will always–ALWAYS, be pros and cons; even if you live in paradise. Trust me, go to a hotel for a week, and I PROMISE YOU; you will get tired of it in no time.

However, when you are privileged to live in more than one place, you get to experience different ways of life, in big or small ways. Take for instance: living in Kingston or Portmore, under normal circumstances, you can wash your clothes at anytime and know that there’ll be adequate sunshine and heat to dry your clothes in no time. Compare that with moody, disgusting, miserable gyal girl weather in Mandeville. Even if the sun bright like Einstein’s IQ at 9am, you try yuh bes’ wash before daylight! Cause yuh know seh the weather in that place be so unpredictable that by 9:30am it’s raining cats and dogs; and take it from me–ain’t nothing worse than being at school with no boxers to wear cause the whole a dem deh pan the line wet up! Wait, that never happened to me! It happened to a friend! *Scout’s Honour*… 🙂

Soooo, as I (kinda) document what’s going on with the U.S. Chapter of my life, I know many people look at America, Canada and England as the places to be to make good lives for themselves. Due to how I’m yet to visit or live in Canada or England, let me talk about where I know so far; America.

CLEARLY conventional thinking would say America is a better place to live than Jamaica as it is considered a 1st world country while Jamaica is considered a 3rd world country. However, here are some glaring ways (in my opinion) that Jamaica would get the edge over America.

Ease of access to transportation (in a sense)

See? Dem deeven have a bus stop! LOL

This one applies mostly to those who don’t own their own vehicles in Jamaica, because in America, ANYBODY can buy a decent car real easily. People can get solid cars for $500-$1000USD ($50,000+ to $100,000+ JMD) with more ways to pay insurance premiums. But for my “Two Foot Turbo” friends, I have to give JA the edge on this one, because except for big Metropolises like New York City or San Fransisco where you can easily hop on a train or whistle down a taxi to go where you need to go; in most states, if you don’t drive, yuh salt! You can’t go anywhere without a ride to at least get to the train/bus station, whereas in Jamaica (and this could be partially due to it being a small country) you can get around easier on buses and taxis, although the government trying to kill off people with more fare increase costs (even though they’ve delayed it for a week). For most who’ve traveled to the states, y’all know if you don’t have friends or family to take you around, you gonna be stuck in the house the whole time, especially with all them highways virtually uhhh, everywhere! JA, you jump in a taxi and go virtually anywhere, at ANYTIME.

Cost of medical care (Medical + Dental)

Courtesy of http://boomersint.org

Lemme just start by saying: I don’t plan to get sick up here, and I may just have to come to Jamaica to clean my teeth. REAL talk. I don’t know if it’s because America has all the fancy equipment why they think medical and dental care must cost so much, but no rasta; unless mi get a job with insurance (or rich enough to buy it on my own–whichever comes 1st) dem place deh naa si mi a baxide. Before I came here, I balked at the opportunity to do an eye test for $2000 JMD. Imagine how I feel now when so far, the cheapest I’ve seen is $70USD!!! Looks like I’m coming back to JA to test my eyes. I feel like I will look for all the free clinics bout the place and start my own campaign for Obama Care… So, look out for me on CNN zeen? I’m not about this life at all. Clearly this is the place to be for optimum health care, but what good is it to me if I can’t afford it? Big up JA and the Free Clinics and Public Crowded Hospitals. Takes whole day, but patience will keep a $2000-$3000 private doctor fee in your pocket per visit.


Hair Care (Barber or Hairdresser)

I swear this will be me shortly.

Let’s talk about how I used to pay $500 JMD to trim AND SHAVE in Jamaica, and the cheapest I’ve seen in America so far is $14 USD to TRIM, and $22 USD to trim and shave. Yuh know who naa trim (again!) Orrrr, I may become a barber (still thinking bout it). I feel it for the ladies up here, ’cause it costs at least $50 to cream or style their hair. Thank God the ones I know could do their thing from in JA and so they link up with each other and sawt out their hair. America is the land of “Do-It-Yourself” or “get-someone-you-know-to-do-it-for-free”and I’m definitely taking that route with my hair. If you see me looking like the Caveman from the Vonage or Geico Ads, you already know why.

Process of Owning things (credit and such)
I REALLY hate this part. In America you have to build credit in order to own things. How does one build credit? By incurring and paying debts on record.

WAH KINDA BOLOGNA IS THAT?!

When you get here as an immigrant, this means real big important purchases cannot be made without credit; for example buying or renting a house or car, through an established agent/agency/company, and therefore you have to get someone to do it for you. Just check it out; many people up here have cars, leases and insurance in other people’s names just because of this. Imagine if you come and yuh nuh know nobody?! It’s annoying. Don’t get me started on how you can’t get stuff if you have bad credit. First they encourage you to incur debt in varied ways, and then when yuh cyaa pay dem naa sell yuh nuttin. Hypocrisy?
Also, this is in actuality a good thing, but it can be annoying as well: having proof of address when conducting business. When you just get here, this is very tricky, as you may be staying with someone for a short while, and this can harm your ability to get things done, like creating bank accounts, getting your driver’s licence (Haha still used the JA spelling, which is also better), among other things.
In Jamaica, once yuh have yuh good up, good up money, yuh can get anything! I guess, admittedly, in a way this isn’t ideal, but it sure feels better than all the red tape in this place!

And FINALLY!

Food.
Seasoning. Taste. Looks. Seasoning. Healthier. More diverse. Seasoning. Ummm… oh yeah! Seasoning!

Curry Goat, rice and peas, plantain &
Cabbage.

Steak! Medium Rare.



                        VS

Enough said.

Importance of G.P.S

So today (October 15, 2013) I had an interview (ish) in Princeton, New Jersey. I’ve been in New Jersey for less than a week now, but I’ve been driving up and about and checking Google Maps frequently for routes, and I feel like I’m getting to know the place pretty quickly. Frankly, this morning, I felt lke I already knew the place enough to go it alone, sans G.P.S.
For the interview (ish) I was given directions by email, which seemed pretty straightforward… EXCEPT, the directions I got from the person told me to go North, as opposed to South. I was to look for Exit 1B. Imagine my annoyance when I saw Exit 8, turn into Exit 9, then 10. I took the next exit, in the hopes of finding a road leading to the Northbound side of the road I was taking. A who tell mi fi guh try dat? Mi laaaaass, Mi laaaaaas, Mi laaaaaas!
(Translation for non-Jamaicans: I was very lost).

Finally, good sense prevailed after driving around aimlessly for about 10 minutes and I pulled into a parking lot and used the G.P.S on my phone. It was pretty much smooth sailing after that… until I reached my destination. Instead of going straight into the complex, I made a turn I wasn’t supposed to and drove aimlessly again for another 10 or so minutes! My interview was for 11:00 a.m., and I didn’t park in the complex till about 11:25 a.m., all because I got lost. And to top it off, when I got to the actual building, I still couldn’t find the place! (Y’all think I ignored the warning signs? Maybe I did, nuh true?)
Turns out that I shoulda probably just stayed at my yard. I think that kind of job (Insurance Sales) really wasn’t for me anyway, and maybe God just really didn’t want me to go there.

What’s more is that apparently, it wasn’t really even an interview, but more of a presentation about the company, after which persons interested in full commission sales could indicate. At this point I can’t accept a job like that, because one: I needs me a guaranteed salary! Two: EVERYBODY hates insurance sales people! Three: I’ve had experience with sales, and it was not my cup of tea at all. I don’t like it.

HOWEVER!

With all the wandering around like a headless chicken, God taught me another lesson. It’s amazing how He uses these little things to teach us. Many times we think we know what we should do, where we should go, and how to solve our problems. We think we can do good, all by ourselves. But Paul, in Romans 7 teaches us otherwise, from his own experience. He said (Rom. 7:21-25 NLT):

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

No matter how hard we try; of our own strength, we can do NOTHING good. Every time we try, we will undoubtedly fail. That’s why we gotta listen to the still, small, Voice that speaks through the Heavenly G.P.S and follow His lead; because like me, your destination could be directly in front of you and you still make a wrong turn. Don’t try to be a hero, don’t try to make it on your own. Also of utmost importance; like that email I got that sent me the wrong way, people and other external influences will give you advice and influence that seems right, but they will ultimately lead you on the wrong path, and at times into the windy abyss of destruction. We must follow the map that God gives. Yes, sometimes He will send people to explain the map directions to us, but we must be very careful who we trust and listen to.

So my drivers out there, even if is just a two foot turbo you have; if you always know the way to where you’re going, good for you! I hope to be like that one day. But from both an earthly and spiritual plain, knowing the way comes with experience and studying the map (the Bible). Just remember, for your earthly vehicular travels you may not always need one, but you will always, ALWAYS need Heavenly G.P.S to get to heaven 🙂

The Job Hunt Chronicles – The Comparison

As you may (or may not) have known by now, I’m no longer in Jamaica.

If you didn’t know, well… umm… SURPRISE! I’m not there anymore! I meant to tell you, but umm… it was kinda sudden and it slipped me? (Maybe?) Okay, you don’t buy it. Well… I suppose I’m gonna have to make it up to you huh… Okay, when I come back; I promise. When will that be you say? Weeeeeell… Lemme get back to you on that. *wink*
I’m sure most of y’all would figure out sooner or later that I’m in America: the “Land of Opportunity”.
Like I said in my earlier blog post when I left Jamaica or my article in the Jamaica Observer (which is the edited version of the blog post) I’m here to improve myself and the standard of living for me and my family.
To improve one’s self in the sense of which I speak, takes “mucho dinero”, “moolah”, “green”, “dollars”–or simply put; MONEY! As an adult, what is the number one way to acquire said money? Yes, that’s right: standing on the street corner with a sign begging getting a job, duh!
Photo from www.fotopedia.com
As up to this point (October 2, 2013 at 4:27 p.m.), I am yet to arrive at my place of settlement in the great United States of America; but, since I’m all about being proactive and “nuff” in this place to get what I want since nothing will be handed out to me, I’ve electronically been like a hunter with bow and arrow in hand, hunting for that prized 9-5 (or otherwise) to get my dreams started. So far, I’ve hit a few targets in the foot, but I haven’t caught dinner for the village just yet. And in case you’re reading now and your face is like “o_O huh?! What is he saying?!” I’m simply using my hunter terms to tell you that I’ve gotten calls, had interview discussions, and even set a few interview dates; but I’m yet to snag a job. All clear? You’re welcome.
This is in part due to me not yet arriving at my place of settlement like I said before, but it’s certainly progress. During this process, I have already experienced a stark difference between seeking employment here and in Jamaica.
The Jamaican Job Hunt
In one simple sentence: I’m QUITE DISGUSTED at what I knew as the application process in Jamaica! 
Too many people I know can relate to this all too well. It’s like trying to kill a deer with a rubber band and some paper bullets! Okay fine, upgrade that to a slingshot, but still.. Mark you, everyone has not had the same bad experiences, but for the most part, I’m quite sure the treatment received in Jamaica is pretty much standard issue; save for a few blessed hardworking, honest, equal opportunity Human Resource teams.
I don’t know of any, but I’m just saying, you know, just in case there actually are some.
In Jamaica, after seeing job postings online or in the newspapers, earnest job seekers send several applications by electronic and physical mail with much anticipation for that one place to ‘connect’. After all, you only need to get into one place to get something going, and then the horizon can be broadened. At this point, I really really want to blame the lack of responses on Jamaica being a third world/developing country, but bwoy… almost everyone in Jamaica has a cell phone, and most have internet access, so people can be reached instantaneously to discuss job possibilities, so that’s gone through the window straightaway.
What seems to happen normally? Well, there are the sad situations like this. Then there are the ones like these: Applications pile up in H.R. offices, or are placed on ‘file’, for what reason, I’m not sure; since each time someone is not successful in acquiring a job, IF CONTACTED AT ALL and informed of this, the person is promised to be placed on files that merely take up space for no reason and are never revisited. I applied to one place and got this response twice. Yeah, I’m an expert. At least they responded though, right? It would appear that during the application process, the first 50 or so are considered from the top of the pile, all while knowing full well that John Smith or Mary Brown–friends from church–asked about a work for their son, daughter, brother or sister, and so that position’s owner has already been decided. In Jamdung, “links run di werl”. That, and I think H.R. people in JA don’t care much for humans as they ought.
>>>>>>> Fast forward to America, where people actually respond! And FAAAAST too!

I guess most places in Jamaica haven’t heard about auto reply to email applications, but it’s all the rage here. Before you even done applying you get an email response! AAAAAANND, though annoying at times, in order to apply for jobs in most companies here, there are talent networks that you have to sign up for before applying. When you sign up, these networks send you postings to other jobs for which you are qualified based on your selected interests and qualifications! Is that awesome or what? Then, to top it all off, if you’re qualified, someone (who I imagine looks a lot like this lady)
                                                                                              ————->

named either Amanda, Katie or Jennifer calls you in a day or two, sounding really really interested in you and having you work with that company to set up an interview for the next day. I am pleased to announce that my morale has been repaired for all the non-responses to all the applications I ever made in Jamaica, I swear! And yes, I won’t say links aren’t used or aren’t helpful up here too, but it sure feels like equal opportunity for most of these jobs.

Clearly, I know I won’t be successful in snagging every single job for which I apply, but the way things seem to be going, I have no doubt that I will not be jobless for much longer. The way things work here, I feel like a lot of people who aren’t working, really don”t wanna work. That’s not always the case, I’m sure, but I know that a lot of people could’ve been doing better if they really wanted to. I’ve been so pleased at the process for getting a job, most times I come onto the computer planning to do one thing, I end up applying for a couple jobs! People have been calling me and sometimes I don’t even remember what I applied for. Sure feels good to be contacted though. These H.R. persons even send you directions to get to the buildings for interviews! I’m super excited at the possibilities that await.

Don’t worry, I’m well aware that people might be prejudiced because of my skin colour because I’m hotter than them, or because I’m an immigrant (which I find kinda dumb since America was born BECAUSE of immigrants), but I’m going forth with God, the Supreme Owner of everything; a positive outlook and humble approach. I. will. not. be. denied.

As soon as my arrow kills the game (another name for food that is hunted), I’ll let the village (y’all) know.
Wish me luck!

Editor’s Note: Got my first email of being unsuccessful for a freelance writing gig mere seconds after publishing this post. lol go figure!

Your Ticket to Heaven…

It’s been a while since I’ve waxed religious on this blog (Yes, I said waxed–sue me), and I feel it’s my duty to share these little nuggets, every now and then… You know, ’cause Jesus says I should 🙂
This one came to me from an unexpected source, and my best friend Carl had a similar encounter, but it’s always that much more real, when you experience it for yourself. I hope the message will reach home.

God uses some really simple ways sometimes to drive home some big points, and sometimes, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it.

Now, I’m sure you notice that train ticket to the side. By itself, it’s just blah… meaningless. But as of today, Thursday, September 26 2013, it represents a whole lot more to me.

Last week, my family and I took the train to visit a relative of ours. Before getting on the train, we had to buy tickets. Due to how this system is very structured and orderly, unlike a certain disorganized and chamba-chamba country *ahem* Jamaica, the train comes and goes on a schedule, and pretty much waits for no one. We had made it to the station just in the nick of time to get our tickets and get on the train. While on the train, an attendant is supposed to come around and verify everyone’s ticket or easy cards to ensure that everyone paid. On the way to visit our relative, this did not happen. Two days later we were heading home, and I said that it made no sense to buy tickets because no one was going to check. Well, my sweet, law abiding parents bought the tickets anyway, and sure enough–NOBODY checked!

Today (26/9/13), I was taking the train on my own, and the saaame thought came to my head. “Why bother buy a ticket if no one is going to check?” But, my parents’ law abiding-ness apparently is hereditary so I bought my ticket… What do you think happened this time?

Of COURSE! There he was, dressed in a khaki suit with a black stripe on the pants and the Tri-Rail symbol mounted on his shoulder, looking all police-like with a scanner in his hand. “May I see your ticket please?” asked the gentleman, to which I obliged.

Some hours later after a fun evening, with my lesson learned, I searched desperately for my ticket (it was round trip) while on my way back to the train station. After coming up empty from both pockets I was mightily relieved to find it tucked away safely in my wallet. On the way back, as you would imagine, tickets were checked again; who’d a thunk it? Not me. Good thing I was prepared.

Yup, good thing I was prepared. And you know, a bright smile came upon my face as I sent the following text message to my friend Carl:

“Such is the kingdom of heaven. You can be ready all your life, and then you seh “Chuh! God naa come”; and then you do all kinda fawt–next thing you drop out (die) and you have a one way ticket to hell…”

The message is simple. Life is too uncertain for us not to have our houses in order. We need to make sure our lives are in accordance with the will of God, or else, when the Ultimate Ticket Checker of Life comes, we will be found wanting, and will suffer the eternal consequence. Jesus is your ticket to Heaven.

The gospel train is a’comin’! And you best believe it won’t be long. When you get on board, will you have your ticket? I definitely will.

Farewell, Sweet Jamaica – Open Letter to my Country

Today (Friday, September 13, 2013), I leave the country of my birth to live in another land. 
(I know I know, Friday the 13th, boohoo! I’m soooo scared *rolls eyes*)

N.B. This was published in the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday, September 11, 2013. You can view that highly edited version here —-> HIGHLY EDITED VERSION

For the original, continue reading.


I take with me, my skills, talents, knowledge and experience(s), as I prepare to expand and use them in the land for which I am bound. As most of you read this, I have already arrived at my new destination. Why did I leave you may ask? I’ll tell you.

Jamaica needs hope; hope that seems to be on the brink of extinction. Hope that surely will not be forthcoming from our leaders–CERTAINLY not this generation anyway. As we speak, the leadership in the opposition Jamaica Labour Party will potentially be up for grabs, and should it change to the potential contender, I don’t know if that would make any positive difference.

Photo from thepolitricks.com
You may ask; is the political system in my new found land perfect? No. Are the societal flaws too? Of course. But, at this point in my young life, those seem a lot more bearable.

Then, there are the job and educational situations. Jamaica does not appreciate its pupils as it ought, and it’s a crying shame for students leaving secondary schools with 10 distinctions who get stuck because they came from poor families who cannot afford to send them further. For those who do go further and excel in university, they are unable to get jobs because they cannot acquire capital to create new businesses, and employers are hiring only their friends and persons who are experienced (i.e. old, needing to retire), all while looking over their shoulders to see if the Student’s Loan Bureau will publish them in the island-wide wall of shame for nonpayment of their loans. 

Those who are trained and qualified watch while we import workers from Asia, Europe and everywhere not named Jamaica, leaving them to twiddle their thumbs while leaders in those countries ensure to cater to their own first. As a resident of my new home, the scope for opportunity is much larger, both geographically and quantitatively.



Goat Islands – Photo Courtesy of the Jamaica Observer
Jamaica can be oppressive, in a sense where the system seems to be set to fail, especially the poor and middle class. That way the rich get richer, and the poor continue to struggle and look to an uncaring government for help and handouts. Our society is supposed to be democratic, but our governments, past and present love to act first and deal with the consequences later. Face it, no matter what the populous says, the outcome of the Goat Islands conversation as the potential spot to house the Logistics Hub will be decided by (and probably is already decided) by the Cabinet’s decision, with little to no thought towards the people’s and environmentalist alarms. As we’ve come to learn, nobody’s voice is heard, unless there’s blocking of roads, brutal murder or an anomaly occurs that draws media attention. It is really sad.

I go to a society, where you can literally “tun yuh han’ and mek fashion” with just about anything, not only clothing; one where you can work in sanitation and custodial services and hold your head high and be proud of your honest living and still be comfortable enough, as opposed to Jamaica where upturned nostrils and empty pockets are the most common sights for these persons, who look forward to Christmas time where they leave little envelopes hoping for a little serendipity. I go to a society, where, though imperfect, the justice system works, and quickly at that. A society, where corrupt persons are caught daily and prosecuted; a society where much care and financial support are given to the educational system; one where there already exists designated school buses, where there isn’t a daily squabble between commuters and public passenger vehicle operators over correct fares, and where state owned buses don’t spew you with toxic, noxious fumes every time they move from a halt. 



Courtesy of translationdirectory.com
Courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner


Trading








It is a society where, save for the occasional instance where skin colour matters, there is truly equal opportunity for ALL.

I go, to improve myself, and my standard of living for a happier life. But, I will not—CANNOT—forget my sweet Jamaica. No matter the trials and tribulations, ‘nuh weh no betta dan yaad’. I’ll send remittances, and admonish persons to visit. I won’t turn my back on my home. I’ll keep tabs on my island in the sun and continue to engage in debate and conversation with fellow locals on ways to improve life here, because, who knows, maybe like the in the movie ‘Terminator’, “I’ll be back.”


What Customer Service and Being a Christian Have in Common :)

 
Its been a LONG while since I’ve posted anything. I don’t know why. Must be because I’ve been busy; I’ve been writing to the newspapers a bit, so much so it seems I’ve forgotten about my little spot here 😦
I’m sorry spot, Daddy’s here again. Hush yaaw baby, don’t cry, I’m here to write on you again.
Let me FINALLY post this entry that I’ve been writing since the 2nd week in June. #Don’tJudgeMe
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I’m pretty sure from the topic, you can immediately start to make comparisons between Christianity and Customer Service. But juuuuuust in case you can’t, I’m sure this post will give you a little jolt and bring it to light. (Awesome metaphor there nuh true? “Jolt” and “light”… See what I did there? 😀 )
 
Anywhoooo… Now to my story. Of course. You know there’s always a story 🙂
 
At my current place of employment, I’m in the Communication and Customer Service department. A part of my duties is to relieve the receptionist daily for an hour so she can get her lunch. While in university, I was a receptionist on the male dorm for about a year or thereabout, so I kinda had a little experience before hand. But bwoooy, there and here is a WHOLE different cup of tea!
Working on dorm was like a nice cup of Barsley, while this place at times can be like the most bitter of all bitter cerasse tea! (Yuh did know seh a suh it spell? I thought it was “cerci” :s )
All things considered, throughout every situation, I try to maintain the most positive and cheerful attitude, no matter what happens, or no matter who or if my boss ALWAYS bothers/annoys/upsets me.
 
This is a pretty accurate depiction of our interaction :/

On Wednesday, June 12, 2013, I was doing my usual hourly receptionist duty when a gentleman and a lad (who I think was his son) came to the booth. As usual, in my very polite and cordial way I addressed him and asked how I could be of service. Straight off the bat he seemed very brash. He was one of those high coloured Jamaicans, the ones you expect to own hotels, factories and such, whose voices always surprise you just a little bit when you realize they’re actually from JA. He came to see one of the General Managers to have some fees waived for his business. I called that GM’s extension but it went to voicemail. I called his secretary and I was advised that the GM was on lunch. I informed the gentleman of this, and he in turn informed me in quite a matter-of-factly manner that he was coming all the way from St. Ann and had already spoken to the GM and needed to see him. It was about 12:40pm and he further insisted that he wasn’t about to stand around and wait for the GM to come back at 2:30 when he needed to return to the country. Throughout all this, the young lad just looked on grinning sheepishly like I was some sorta rat being cornered by a huge cat, as his father (I’m just assuming) continued to aggressively seek that for which he came. He pressed on, “Suh is only one manager? I can’t talk to someone else?” all the while sounding quite annoyed at what seemed like an impending exercise in futility. I said I would try the Managing Director. I was informed that he was in a meeting and was unavailable. I informed the man, and he was not pleased. However, he was adamant that he had to talk to somebody, and he wasn’t leaving until he did. I called the GM’s secretary again, who advised that the gentleman could choose to wait until the GM’s return. It was at this point, he started to make small talk, where I realized he seemed to just be mischievous, and not so brash after all. I told him that he could wait in the lobby, to which he said, “Why can’t I wait upstairs? I want to go upstairs and wait. And I want a room with dancing girls.” Yes. He really said this. Nuh kno wah do him *shrug*

At the dancing girls utterance, the lad, which once and for all I’ll assume IS HIS SON, had the biggest Cheshire cat grin and I couldn’t help but smile too. I told him we didn’t have any dancing girls, but I could ask if he’d be allowed to wait upstairs. While making the inquiry on his behalf he said that I must be from the country, because I was very courteous and gave him good customer service. When I informed him that I had lived in Portland for sometime, he nodded and said “yeah man, mi know seh a country yuh come from!” Shortly afterwards he said he would go on the road and return and at the same time the rightful receptionist returned, and I promised him that she would take good care of him and he thanked me. After I returned from lunch, I went upstairs, and lo and behold! There he and his son were, waiting to be seen by the GM. He shook my hand and asked for my name and thanked me once more when I was going by. On the return trip, he shook my hand again and told me I was a good man. He admonished me not to change. Guess it was worth it after all. I was really happy to hear that.

 
I guess overall this turned out to be a not so bad story, but I’ve had to deal with some people you see? I wish I could step outside the booth and punch them in the face. And keep punching. And punching. Until my fist marks are outlined in their faces. You know… Just because.
Some people come in here thinking that you owe them everything and you should drop your entire life just to suit them. I believe in the customer’s rights, but at the same time, some of them push it a little too far. I’ve encountered some real disgusting and difficult people (usually for no apparent reason) in this place, and it takes real control not to talk to them the way they talk and behave towards you. If you’re a practicing Christian this is all too familiar.
 
Many times as Christians, people do all manner of evil to us, just because they can. They allow the devil to use them to try to provoke us to wrath, just so they can accomplish their own selfish whims and desires. But despite this, no matter how difficult it may be, we should always pray to the Father and instead of being unkind, give them good Christian service. Just check out what Proverbs 25: 21-22 has to say about that. 
 
 
Our goal should not be to heap coals of fire on anyone’s heads, but to show that we have the love of Jesus in our hearts, so no matter what anyone tries to do to hurt us, we can smile and know that they can’t phase us or stop our praise. We know what our reward will be. Jesus said to love your enemies (check the link) and he said it more than once. “If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.” (Matt 5:47 NLT)

I posted the song below before, but it’s so powerful and relevant, I’m sharing it again. Remember the next time you have to do customer or Christian service, that it pays to serve Jesus 🙂
Don’t worry about getting back at anybody down here on earth; frankly, earth sucks! Store your treasures in heaven. Enjoy the song.