BY EWALT AINSWORTH                                         09 14 08

Things are getting tougher and tougher for immigrants in North America. Some GT folks stop playing it by the books and have gone to tricks so as to stay in the house, keep the car and generally keep their head above water.

Now that it is officially summer, based on the social calendar (Memorial Day May 28), everybody is cutting back. Families going to the supermarket with their own shopping bag. Workers are walking with their oil bottles, and connoisseurs soaking rice and corn to make their own wine and bush rum.

A certain family friend bought three mangoes at the Korean store he ate the flesh, soak the skin to make drink and planted the seed in a flower pot. Another buy a cantaloupe eat the flesh, put the skin to make compost and soak the seeds to make a beverage. Poor thing did not know that some seeds are laxatives. Every 20 minutes or so the whole household had to be wiping and swiping and showering all in the name of trying to save a dollar.

Motorists too are having a hard time and using ‘regular’ only in their expensive and high powered SUVs even though all the paper work suggests high octane fuels. But not only that…they keeping their tyres well inflated and only putting half-tank-a-gas at a time so as to cut back on fuel consumption. And certain passengers (call name and I would whistle) got to crawl to the bus stop and catch the ’94 cross town in Irvington) even though both parties live and work in the same vicinity. From a mathematical point of view is cheaper to buy a bus ticket than haul all the excess weight around. Asolmelykam.

A countryman and compatriot has put signature-plates on his car to celebrate his brokenness and downward slide. The irony of the whole thing is that these signature plates come at a premium price but he has made the sacrifice and has gotten rid of the generic plates. In his head, he is applying a psycho-illogical template to ward off naysayers and jealous eyes and give himself an appearance of wealth and accomplishment. But it is only an appearance….that does not count.
The new plates now read FELIX MD.

Yes Felix works in a hospital setting and has been there for 26 years as a handy-man/plumber. He wears a uniform and is on-call weekends and holidays and even though his skill set is extremely specialised, Felix is no doctor; Felix works in a boiler room.

The car is new but according to him, “not new, new, new; it has 165,000 and it is a CADILLAC, original paint, original spare wheel, leather seats, heated rear view mirrors, heated seats, sun roof, rocking chair, garaged, fully loaded and owner driven until he took over. Much more than that, he paid for his car with one pay check but the gasoline consumption is affecting and afflicting him. Hence the MD which means MORE DEBTS, as distinct from MEDICAL DOCTOR. He uses a credit card to buy gas and pays about 26 per cent per annum in interest for this facility. This car has forced him to stop smoking and he brews mauby and sorrel or drinks water straight from the pipe. Pisa-na-ba.

Jobs are folding by the gazillions and the children who were born and raised in the Diaspora, are moving back home with the parents. The children born back in the yard and came here as young adults, are doing slightly better because they have seen and experienced difficult time and can band their waist like ‘banwari’ and drink ice water and belch but them others, cat eat they dinner. These days when you see plenty car in the streets and on the driveway, is not party; is sandwich families living together. Mothers are becoming mothers to their own mothers and children alike.

The mortgage companies are moving into entire neighborhoods with bulldozers and MACK trucks, clearing away swaths of homes that up to a few days before were the ancestral homes of families. It is not strange anymore to see the bright colored U-HAUL trucks in driveways as families hop on board and move south to the sunshine and republican states where loan forgiveness is a bit more tolerant and tolerable.

Some folks ideally would like to return to GT and slap on a MD signature plate but to walk away from the mountain of debts is tantamount to a criminal offence. Some folks too have more debts than they have teeth in their mouth and are about to lose their minds. The great American dream is in the rear view mirror and with all the technology and communication gizmos one would think that with dialogue and consultation one with the other, a solution can be hammered out. Nope.

Social capital is the new currency. GT folks especially are accustomed to sitting on their porches and bottom house and knock domino and consume saltfish-choka to their hearts delight. That is something of the distant past.

These days the biggest social activity is clipping coupons and filling up rebate forms. The insurance company this week sent out mailers asking folks who have their cars garaged, to simply put an X in the appropriate box. The mailer also suggested that if the car was garaged, the owner will qualify for a 20 per cent reduction in premiums. Another Padna from the Twin Island republic, since he get the mailer, is embroiled in a struggle with his adult daughter and live-in boyfriend. He rather get rid of them both and save the 20 per cent because they occupy the garage “and I could be making money boy.”


One response to this post.

  1. A depressing reality of life in these U.S. of A.


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