Which of my ‘brothers’ see me as their keeper?

It’s said that you shouldn’t go to bed angry. So, after I got home yesterday afternoon, simmering and seething, I decided the better thing to do was what my body dictated and just crash out, thinking that would help me calm down. But, why was I fired up?

I’d been out playing in a tournament, and had done very well with my partner. I was full of the glow that comes from having thought carefully about what one wants to do, taken time to work on a few weaknesses, then gone out and had things work out well. It’s a life lesson in the benefits of preparation.

A Jamaican friend, who lives in the US was back home for a few weeks and had agreed to join me as a ‘fan’, while I played. Given the onset of Fall on the northeast seaboard, a spell of our warmth was welcome. She was happy to spend the morning in the company of some zealous athletes and a good array of mango trees. The nice Jamaican lunch of rice and gungo, curried chicken, fried plantain and steamed pakchoi wasn’t bad, either.

She had plans to head to Montego Bay, so wanted to try to buy a bus ticket for the Knutsford Express, and asked me to drive her to New Kingston, before getting her back home. No problem.

As we approached Devon House, we saw the usual array of windscreen washers. One approached my car and started to wet the windscreen glass. I waved my hand to signal ‘no, thanks’, and when he continued I rapped the glass and waved again. He continued washing. The line of cars moved up, so did I. He followed and came to my window, his hand outstretched. I wound down the window.

I told him that I’d declined his service, so I was not in the mood to pay for something I didn’t request or want. “Is jus a $100 mi beggin,” he claimed.

I’m really a straight-forward person, and silly interpersonal games truly annoy me. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Cut the bloody nonsense. I said no. You persisted. Get out of my face!

I just retorted that if he wanted to beg, then do that; stop thrusting something else on people. “Yu nuh care bout yu black brodda!” he yelled

Well, who told him to say that? Sorry, he got a salvo.

“We look like brothers? What’s your father’s name? Who’s your mother? We’re not brothers. Stop that nonsense. Guilt doesn’t work with me.” He stood there shocked. I didn’t cast aspersions about who he might or might not care for.

I asked him if he could give me $100. He grinned. “You ha fi bill me,” he replied. He added he’d owe me. I shook my head.

“You don’t know me or my life, so try that nonsense somewhere else!” I added.

He stood stock still.

I feel sorry for anyone who feels that they have to try desperate things to make it through a day. I also know that not everyone who seems desperate, is so. But, I wasn’t judging. But, I know my own road and resent presumptions.

The English football background of me was bubbling to the surface. If I mention Vinny Jones, you may get a sense of how this could be about to be resolved. But, I’m not that Jones. However, I know how to go to the limit as if I’m as mad as shad. That look was in my eye and tone in my voice.

My message hit home. I drove on.

I’m not going to make a big theory about what dependency looks like in Jamaica.

I thought back to an incident a few weeks ago, in Mandeville. A well-dressed Rasta came to my car with a rag in hand. He asked if he could wipe off my car. I declined. He explained that he wanted $50, but was too embarrassed to ask, but he’d work for it. I said I understood, and gave him $50. Again, I was not getting into the core of his request or questioning its truth. He thanked me and moved on.

My initial refusal hadn’t led to some questioning of any part of my thinking or position in life.

Do you understand the difference in the two instances?