Go­ing nuts over Matthew

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Daniel Th­waites is an at­tor­ney-at-law. Email feedback to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

IT COULD be co­in­ci­dence, if you believe in that sort of thing, but I hap­pen to know a guy named Mathew who works in con­struc­tion. Just the other day, he was telling me how he be­came stranded in the coun­try late one evening when the car broke down. He re­ally didn’t know any­one around, so you can imag­ine the sense of in­se­cu­rity.

Well, luck­ily for him, ear­lier he had paused to con­verse with a lay preacher church sis­ter in the nearby vil­lage. She had struck him as stern and very proper, but gen­tle.

Any­way, putting shy­ness aside, he just asked this old lady to please put him up for the night, and to his de­light, she turned it over in her Chris­tian heart, then de­cided to gen­er­ously do him this kind­ness. The only prob­lem, she ex­plained, was that she only had a queen-size bed in her one room.

Later, de­spite his re­mon­stra­tions that he could hap­pily bounce it on the floor, the grace­ful lady or­dered him to stop his non­sense. He just had to close his eyes when she was putting on her nightie, and they would put two pil­lows be­tween them.

All went well! He slept soundly and was first up in the morn­ing, re­freshed and ready to hit the road.

Nat­u­rally, Mathew was pro­fuse in his thank­ful­ness, even though he no­ticed that now the old lady was a lit­tle re­luc­tant to ac­cept the kind words. He did not let it bother him.


Any­way, fi­nally head­ing through the door, he saw a tall coconut tree in the yard, filled with nuts. He thought to him­self, “Yuh know what? After this sweet old lady has been so kind to me, let me help her out.” So he asked nicely, “Yuh waan mi pick two coconut fi mi an’ yuh?”

That was just too much for the nice old lady, who, in ex­as­per­a­tion, al­most screamed: “Just come outa mi yard yuh wut­liss bloodcl**t! Yuh nuh know how fi climb ova two pilla but yuh waan climb up mi jelly tree ... . Galang from yasso!”

There is so much il­lu­mi­nated by this story, such as that the hu­man heart, be­ing knot­ted and labyrinthine, can both dread, and at the same time se­cretly long for, storm, stress, strain, hur­ri­cane, and gen­eral hack­le­ment. In ad­di­tion, some­times what did not hap­pen can often be far more the fo­cus than what did. And then it goes without say­ing that some­times you gotta know what to do and when to ‘press and ad­van­tage’ a sit­u­a­tion!

Matthew, the hur­ri­cane, didn’t re­ally hap­pen for Ja­maica, al­though it has moved on and ter­ri­fied the peo­ple of Haiti, Cuba, The Ba­hamas, and Florida. Un­for­tu­nately for the poor souls in those na­tions, they don’t have a Rev Al Miller and must, there­fore, pay for their folly.

But so much for fo­cus­ing on what didn’t hap­pen. There’s the other sce­nario, when you don’t even no­tice what didn’t hap­pen, be­cause you are so fo­cused on what did. That was where I found my­self in the hurly-burly of the me­dia re­ports about the on­com­ing storm.


I was so trans­fixed by the PR of the po­lit­i­cal direc­torate that I didn’t even no­tice that the di­rec­tor gen­eral of ODPEM, Ma­jor Clive Davis, didn’t de­liver at the brief­ing. In fact, I ran one of CNN’s flash sur­veys like they do after a pres­i­den­tial debate and dis­cov­ered that Mr Hol­ness had been go­ing right up in my per­sonal polls, lead­ing from the front in his green cap, green merino, and green socks. There are peo­ple call­ing him An­drew Kar­dashian be­cause of the nu­mer­ous self­ies, but hon­estly, I was grate­ful for the up­front, take-charge ap­proach.

So I was taken aback by the Gleaner story ‘ODPEM side­lined by politi­cians in hur­ri­cane prep – Carby’, wherein the di­rec­tor of the Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion Cen­tre, Dr Bar­bara Carby, drew at­ten­tion to what was not hap­pen­ing in the hur­ri­cane prep.

First off, I had to re­flect about how easy it is to trick me! It turns out I’m a sucker for the slick pub­lic re­la­tions, which I’m not ex­actly thrilled to re­port. It prob­a­bly doesn’t help that I’m a big fan of Kim Kar­dashian, too, so I’ve been soft­ened up al­ready. Here’s Dr Carby: “There is nowhere in the world where a few hours be­fore a dis­as­ter is ex­pected to make an im­pact, you do not have the head of the dis­as­ter agency ad­dress­ing the pub­lic.”

Oh, Dr Carby! Ap­par­ently, there is one such place. And you re­ally have to won­der why there would be a de­ter­mi­na­tion to ‘press and ad­van­tage’ a sit­u­a­tion. There’s re­ally no need, par­tic­u­larly where you have an Op­po­si­tion do­ing its level best to en­joy a long sea­son in the dol­drums.

Any­way, thank heav­ens Al Miller run de bwoy Matthew outa de yard – ‘bout him waan tear dung de jelly dem! – or there could have been a pay­ment for the sleekly or­ches­trated po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence with height­ened dis­as­ter.


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