Staring Directly Down the Barrel, I Looked Death Square in the Mouth.

The following incident occurred during the early hours of Sunday 1st October 2017.

I was leaving a party at Studio around 3:30AM with the friend who had spontaneously invited me.  Usually, after party nights we would have walked to Port of Spain. Why walk you ask? It helps work off the alcohol, and if you can get to your destination in the same amount of time that you would have spent waiting for transport, why tha hell not?. This time however my friend said he was tired, and wanted to travel. No scene. I was tired AF myself. Between the  8:30AM performance of KHONA the Musical on Friday 29th September (review coming soon),  retuning home at 4AM on Saturday morning, waking at 6AM for two dance rehearsals (AIDA and Law and Order) in San’do, a show I was working on at the Central Bank Auditorium on Saturday evening, and the party we were leaving as the cherry on top…  I only got 1 hour sleep. (Something to keep in mind as this story progresses). So if he say travel is what we’re doing, travel it is then.

As we were waiting,  I kept sticking my hand out indiscriminately at passing cars, gesturing ‘Port of Spain?’ “You have to wait till they flash their lights” my friend said, then, almost like clockwork… what do you know…a car… a white ‘old model’ wagon, (I don’t know makes of cars) flashed its lights and slowed down to pick us up. Heavens be praised.

The front seat was empty, and there was one passenger sleeping in the back seat directly behind the driver. Generally I would have taken front seat… I kinda like my own space, and I kinda like to ensure that I can take control of a situation should it decide to go awry. One can never know when you will have to pull a steering wheel, or have to jump from a moving vehicle again… there are less things to have to think about in emergency situations when you’re in the front seat IMO. In spite of all of that, I decided to join my friend in the back seat. Once in the car, I began to unwind as I am expecting to be taken to my destination without incident. It’s not unreasonable right? Since I was tired af, and having consumed a considerable amount of alcohol (two Smirnoff… leave me alone, I know I’m a light weight) I allowed myself to doze off lil bit.

I was only half asleep when  the driver asked “Allyuh going uptown or down town Port of Spain?”. I lazily opened my eyes, noticed we were around Victoria Square, and  responded “Downtown drive”…. then… *Cluh Clink*… I heard the sound of a pistol being cocked. How did I know it was the sound of a pistol?…movies and video games perhaps… what I did know was that shit just got real… and immediately woke and sobered the fuck up.

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My survival mode (which I have fondly named Batman) was activated, and the events which unraveled thereafter appeared to occur in slow motion.

I immediately became aware that the street we were on was dimly lit… if one can consider it lit at all.  The ‘sleeping’ passenger was now shouting something that I could not make out  over the driver’s cries of “WHAT REALLY GOING ON IN MY CAR BOY?! BUH WA REALLY GOING ON IN MY CAR BOY?”. It was then I noticed that my friend, who was seated in the middle, was being held in a choke hold. With the next passenger door to my left, I could open my door and dive out. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. But that would be a d!ck move, and an option I did not consider. I am here with someone, so whatever happens, we are BOTH going to survive… or at the very least, he will.

The driver continued to drive, looking back repeatedly asking the same question. ‘What really going on in my car boy?” At some point, light briefly came into the vehicle… probably from a building we passed, I don’t really know, but with that passing of light, my eyes spotted the gun. It  was being held by the passenger to the right (duh), and  the barrel was pressed into my friend’s side.

Without a second thought, I leaped for the firearm. I grabbed the assailant’s wrist with my right hand, the barrel of the gun with my left, and pulled the weapon away from my friend’s side. My objectives from here were three fold. Any two of which NEEDED to be achieved to turn this situation into my favor.

  1. Keep the gun pointed downward
  2. Fire the rounds into the floor of the car and empty the clip
  3. Get the gun away from the assailant

A scuffle would ensure

At some point the driver stopped the car and screamed “Ah want everybody outa meh car! Allyuh come out meh car now!”. To which I would respond, “Drive(r) there is a man here with a gun! I am holding on to him. Drive to a police station, we will come out there.”

The driver would stop again and demand that we all vacate his car. I would respond more assertively, “Drive(r), this street is too dark! We are not coming out here. I am holding on to the man. We will come out at a police station and there are enough around Port of Spain… FIND ONE!”

The scuffle continued. As far as I wanted to achieve two of the objectives listed above, I was only able to achieve #1. In hindsight, I was pulling the gun directly forward; the direction of most resistance (I know better for next time), and was unable to locate the trigger in our scuffle. There was almost nothing more I could do… until Plan B; get the assailant away from the car, came to mind. Still holding on to the barrel with my left hand, and keeping it pointed downward, I released his wrist, unlocked and opened his door, gabbed him by the shirt collar with my right hand and attempted to throw him out the moving vehicle.

It would not be as easy as I imagined. While half of his body (head and torso) was successfully pushed out, the assailant’s feet locked under the driver’s seat to keep himself from tumbling out completely. It would take me shifting all my body weight to be directly over him; attempting to press his face (a face of  someone quite possibly in his  mid-thirties, bald, light brown skin, of African descent and full beard)  closer and closer to the asphalt that was whizzing hastily by below us, to eventually overpower him and push him out the vehicle. I would have tumbled out myself if it wasn’t for my foot being stuck between the driver’s seat and the lil hump thing in the center of the two front seats.

Then… the car stopped (umm.. why?) .  The door through which the assailant was pushed out was still wide open. It was only when he got to his feet that I realised he was still in possession of the firearm and was now pointing it inside…. FUCK!

Did I mention that my friend was still sitting in the center? In his position he would have been the first point of contact with the guy outside and I refused to let him die, or even get hurt because my actions may have escalated the situation. I instinctively crawled over him, and as I looked up… for the first time in my life I literally came face to face with a gun. Staring directly down the barrel, I was looking death square in the mouth.

My mind raced to analyse the new situation. The assailant, now that he was outside, had free reign to go anywhere he wanted to go. Meanwhile we were trapped like rats. I put my hands up, partially as an attempt to deescalate the situation, and partially to avail my hands for quick action (what ever it may be) should the opportunity present itself. My mind continued to race, searching for a path to absolution that would never come.  I saw no way out of the situation this time. At that moment I was mentally preparing myself to get shot in the chest.

I sat there… bracing for the sound of a shot being fired, for the excruciation of a bullet piercing my chest, and imagining my lungs filling with blood as I die a slow and agonizing death. ‘Today is the day I die.’ I thought, ‘and it was a life well lived. Theatre filled to the very end.  Just try not to go out like a bitch… and make sure that your last words are epic and quotable’. I couldn’t help but be amused as I realised how ludacris my thought process was in that dire situation. OK Triston. Be serious. This ain’t a movie! Then I wondered… how do I have the time to think about all of this? Why haven’t I been shot yet?

Two thoughts then came to mind. Either the gun isn’t loaded, or this driver is in on this shit. You see, I have always had this philosophy that if you’re gonna shoot someone you’re probably not going to do it in your own car… cause then you’ll have to have to have it cleaned, and have the awkward conversation of why there is blood and possibly bullet holes in your seat. Then there was the added fact that the driver… even at this point, when the threat is already removed from his vehicle, is STILL shouting “All ah allyuh come out meh car NOW”.

“Ok, OK! We’re coming out” I said, and made sure to grab my bag which was laying on the car floor.

As we exited, (I’m not sure who got out first between my friend and I) the assailant ran around the back of the vehicle… either as a result of  our exit, or independently. I am still unsure.  I allowed my friend to run ahead, still making sure that I am between him and  the gun man. As I ran, I never took my eye off the assailant. In my head I imagined that he would run after us… at least for a bit, or fire some shots. Instead, I watched him re enter the vehicle from which he was thrown via the left passenger door, and close both doors, before the car drove off.

THIS BITCH ASS DRIVER WAS IN THIS FROM JUMP! :/… which means they can come back from anywhere. RUN!

I instructed my friend to run straight to Wrightson Road which was perpendicular to where we were (which I would later learn is called Sackville Street) as it was the only street with light and with counter traffic. After that… remembering that I only had 1 hour sleep, this new energy that I found was clearly the action of adrenaline. After reaching Wrightson Road, I suggested the HYATT as our next destination. We needed to be somewhere secure before my adrenaline runs out and I pass out. We reached… I called mums, gave her the cliffnotes version and somewhere along the line  I fell asleep because the next ting I knew I was waking up at twilight on the ledge at HYATT’s Water Front.

With the exception of a few scratches… both my friend and I escaped without injury or loss of posession. #LikeABoss 😎

 

 

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She asked me to c*m inside! SHE HADDA BE DOING THIS FOR SPITE!!!

In all my adventures and miss happenings THE ABSOLUTE WEIRDEST THING happened to me last night where I may or may not have almost gotten robbed (not that I ever have anything worth taking), I may or may not have gotten laid OR I may or may not have almost been falsely accused of rape. Here’s what happened.

I was walking to rehearsal in perhaps the most hood part of Curepe when a voice called out “Excuse me”. I looked to the direction of the voice and saw this bess Indian with a pretty smile and body, shape and face for days wearing a form fitting jump suit and a neckline as low as sin. Boobs galore I tell you. BOOBS GALORE!!!! A True Helen of Troy. She couldn’t possibly be talking to me… could she? I don’t know her although I wish I did. I kept on walking.

She called again. I stopped and asked a bit tentatively… “umm… are you talking to me?” She said yes. So I went back and listened to what she had to say while internally  chanting “Triston her eyes are up here”.

ME: Yeah what’s up?

HER: Can you take a picture of me?

That’s a random request right? Who comes out of their own house, stops a random stranger and asks them to take a picture of them?

Confused by her request I stopped mentally chanting, got distracted by her boobs and asked quite possibly with slurred speech “With your phone or mine?” She said hers… (Duh Triston! Stupid move! Stupid move) but added that she wanted to put on her shoes 1st (clearly I did not notice cause my eyes never got past those double D’s) so she invited me into her house….. SHE INVITED ME INTO HER HOUSE… ME… RANDOM STRANGER…. WHO DOES THAT??? I was beginning to feel the hetero beast awakening… but I had rehearsals to get to.

ME: You want me to do what? *slurred speech*

HER: You could come inside?

She asked me if I could c*m inside! SHE HADDA BE DOING THIS FOR SPITE!!!!

ME: *Sigh* Nah I can’t do that. I’ll wait out here.

She went inside and I instantly began rethinking my decision :/. Maybe I’m reading too much into this. Are rehearsals even important at this time? We were put her to be fruitful and multiply… the lord never said anything about rehearsals. At the same time, I don’t know this woman. Who invites a random stranger into their house… in the hood? More specifically, what WOMAN invites a random MAN into their house… in the hood? Now while I do not subscribe to the belief that men are inherently dangerous toward women; If I didn’t start to feel like I was being baited for some sort of ambush inside, were I a lesser man I’d say she looking for trouble. I became comfortable in my decision to stay outside.

After a while she came out in these high heels, gave me her phone and I was set to take the pics and buss out (I was starting to think about rehearsal again). Instead of taking it in front of her own house she went across the street so when I am taking the pics my back will be facing her house. I also noticed that she left her gate open. HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS!! I took two pics anyway making sure that the gate was in my peripheral vision.

You’d think that’d be the end of that… but no… she turned around and said she wanted it from the back.

SHE SAID SHE WANTED IT FROM THA BACK!!!!! WHAT THA FCUK IS HAPPENING!?!?!

Maybe there is no ambush waiting inside. Maybe she is dropping hints. If she is, she’s laying it on thick. but still this is highly suspicious right? The beast who is now awake is slapping me in the face saying “Go inside bitch!” Did I mention she was making small talk? Asking me things like where I off to, If I does pass through here often and OMG she just flung her hair over her shoulder and looking back at me biting the tip of her index finger. Yuh know… it might have better lighting on the inside in chru 3:) WA SHE DOING MEH?!?!

This is still a highly suspicious circumstance… but a very hott suspicious circumstance. My brain became confused! It didn’t know if to pump blood to the shaft or to the rest of my body for a fight or flight response, so my brain decided to do both.. but accomplished neither of them effectively. It was total system failure going on with me. I swear I was having a meltdown. Then… reality hit me. I have rehearsal for a show opening in two weeks. I’d prefer to not die before the run is complete cause lets face it, if there is an ambush waiting for me on the inside…. to be successful in taking whatever they interested in taking they gonna hafta kill me. Heck I jumped from a speeding vehicle on the highway the last time. They not gonna get any thing that easy…. With much internal deliberation, I eventually returned her phone and left.

As I walked away a thought hit me… What if there was no ambush waiting? What if I did go inside and just took photos and next thing I hear is that I am wanted for sexual assault or some other offence? Who would believe that this random woman invited me into her home to take pictures of her? But at the same time.. what if she was flirting hard and this was an opportunity to release sexual tension? Arrrghhh! I still nuh sure.

What do you think the internet? Was she flirting hard or was my mind in the gutter and I’m making sexual connections to purely innocent statements? Did I successfully overcome the temptations of the La Diablesse? or Did I miss a very in my face opportunity to … what do the young people call it?… YOLO?!

Theatre Etiquette: How to Be a Great Audience Member

Kerry Hishon

Theatre Etiquette: How to Be a Great Audience MemberShawn is ready for the show to start!

I’m going to assume that most people know the “basics” of being a good audience member… things like turning off your cell phone, not unwrapping crinkly candies during the overture, and the like.  Ceris wrote a great piece at TLTDAY.com about theatre etiquette for parents — check it out.

But I’m going to delve a little deeper into being a good audience member, and hopefully share some things that you may not have thought of.

1.  This one may sound like a no-brainer, but… allow yourself time to get to the theatre and get situated.

There are actually a lot of things you can/should do before going into the auditorium and sitting down… you need to pick up your tickets at will-call if you don’t have them yet (you can’t get in without your tix!), use the restrooms before the giant line-ups…

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I Never Told Anyone About My Hoe Days… But I Never Imagined I Could’ve Done So Much Damage

My earliest memories of this probably dates as far back as when I was six years old.

I am from a family of five, we lived in the ghetto.. “the Vaza” as we call it, and the kitchen door of our home was an ever present problem. If left on its own, it could never remain open. Its position on the house, it’s orientation and relation to the wind direction allowed it to catch the breeze quite frequently and slam. It was quite annoying. And this was long before home air conditioning units were common place so leaving the door close was hardly an option. The house needs ventilation to cool it down. That door needed to be open, especially when it was breezy.

We were faced with a dilemma and all I wanted as a kid was a kitchen door that could split in two; where the bottom stays closed and the top can open. My grandmothers and grandfarther all had kitchen doors like that… that was the norm as far as I knew. I just wanted our door to be like everyone else’s.

Somewhere along the line it was decided that we use what I thought was a “mini shovel”, but what I have been informed was actually a garden hoe that we had laying around to prop the door open and EUREKA…. No more slamming doors. We used it for years and I was happy with our kitchen door but eventually the wooden staff of the garden tool was worn away so much by the constant friction between it and the door that it became too short to do the job effectively  any more so its use was discontinued. Perhaps it was for the best.

A couple weeks ago I came across a video on youtube (It’s embedded below) that really had me think of how dangerous it would have been if anyone found out what we were doing. I mean who tha fuq uses a garden tool for that? Perhaps some people do… but I am sure its not in the majority. A hoe has a specific design that was made for a specific purpose. The wooden part was made for holding and the metal part was made to withstand a lot of wear and tear. That’s what it was made for. Purpose first! Back then we were only thinking of our needs and not that of the whole human race and I admit, that was selfish.

We did not have the foresight to anticipate that our radical idea would have immeasurable ripple effects and soon everyone would be using their hoes as door props; whether they have a slamming kitchen door or not, and that would have lead to a breakdown in gardening practices. All the earth’s soil would remain unhilled and undrilled resulting in massive food shortages. We’d be unable to feed ourselves as a species resulting in the eventual annihilation of the human race.

You may think it silly, but the dystopia predicted could very well happen.. couldn’t it? Isn’t that how the world works? I guarantee there are many people around the world that believe this as well… probably many times more than those who use garden tools as door props and, if the majority is saying it then surely that qualifies it as being true. Yet you with your ‘intelligence’ rationalize that a hoe can make a pretty handy garden tool as well as a decent door prop and to that I say No! It cannot be both.. which is it? Purpose First!. You probably also feel that although we chose not to use the garden tool for its original purpose, it doesn’t magically stop the countless others from continuing to work the soil with one. You may even make some desperate attempt to convince me that no less food is going to still end up on the table because of it,  because we weren’t interested in gardening in any case but if we chose too.. we still had working tools… but your logic and common sense is wasted here.

While a bit of a stretch, my hoe story is very real. We really did have a nuisance of a kitchen door… We still do actually, but we now have an alternative solution (using a different device) but that would not have made an interesting headline now would it.This story was also makes a pretty decent metaphor in response to the gentleman in the video below and other like minded people… So you know what they say “if it falls in your garden…”

I Could Have Sworn I Was Part of An Epic Novel.

I was going through my old facebook notes and came across this entry from 2010. lol! What an evening this was. I also shared it to my profile in 2011 with a note to myself to write a book after I survived the predicted 2012 End of the World Event, but before I die in 2026 (I don’t know where that number came from). I haven’t gotten around to writing a book yet but I guess publishing it to my blog counts for something.

Dear Diary (Wednesday 24th March 2010):

It began as i paraded my usual stretch of highway sometime around the 1800 hour. To my left, the Northern range. She’s seen better days. Her majesty dwarfed by a thick wall of smoke that my gaze could not penetrate. Crowned from as far as San Juan by the red/orange flames, which now danced dangerously close to the Mt. St. Benedict’s Chapel, as she just laid there,stripped of her former glory, raped and defenseless against the drought which continued to ravage what used to be a tropical paradise. As the sun retreated once again in its silly game of cat and mouse, it cast a red hue across the sky. BLOOD RED. The kind which you only see in Armageddon movies and Stephen King novels. I’ve never seen a more awesome sight. I almost forgot i was standing in the middle of the highway.

Then, without warning, an Ominous glow pierced the sky…falling fast trailed by a long tail of white smoke. From where iI stood, its trajectory suggested that it should crash somewhere in, or behind the hills bordering Pitit Bough…I was filled with amazement and excitement…and sooo many questions. What on earth is that shit????…. is it a bird? (I highly doubt), an aircraft of some sort? something from outer space even. In these times, one cannot dismiss that possibility? This is 2010! Though not the utopia foretold, These are the times, the future that comic books, and SciFi movies have spoken of for decades, centuries even. I immediately texted my sister, and a couple other friends at UWI and told them to look at the sky above the Northern Range and  Like the three Magi of the east, I sought to follow this strange light and see where it leads. what mysteries and treasures would lay in its rubble… I pondered the notion for a while and then it hit me.

TRISTON!! ONLY WHITE PEOPLE CRAZY ENOUGH DO DEM SHIT AND LIVE!!! THEY’LL GET SOME KINDA SUPER POWERS BUT YOU’D….YOU’RE A NEGRO. YOU’RE ALWAYS THE FIRST TO DIE IN A MOVIE…YOU WILL DEFINITELY BE EXPERIMENTED ON. YOU KNOW THE ENDOWMENT OF YOUR RACE IS STILL A FASCINATION TO MANY… CONTINUE WALKING..AND HOPE THAT SOMEONE ELSE SEES IT. AT LEAST YOU’LL BE SURE YOU’RE NOT CRAZY.

I Although no one I texted had a confirmed sighting, but it turns out that I was not the only one who saw it .(I saw statuses in my facebook timeline and some even commented under the original facebook note)

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It appears that i won’t be unlocking the secret of the Omnitrix, or pulling some kryptonian picknee from the wreckage anytime soon but at least I know I’m not insane…and better yet.. I still have my P****.

Les Misérables and The 100 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle Paradigm

I long to work with children in the theatre again 🙂 they bring me such joy and they teach me things about myself.

Break The Proscenium

By Triston Wallace

10743652-puzzled-mind-and-brain-teasers-symbol-featuring-a-human-head-with-jigsaw-puzzle-peices-representing-It was immediately after the curtain call of the very first  performance of Caribbean Theatre Production’s “Les Misérables: The School Edition”, a performance patronized by an  audience of secondary school students. Most of the cast had already eagerly exited into Queen’s Hall’s lobby, still very much in full costume and make up,  to meet their friends and patrons. One of the younger cast members, the only one at the primary school level that day among a cast of mostly secondary and tertiary level students returned to the rehearsal hall with a very lugubrious expression painted across his face. (I learned that word from the 25th annual Putnam county spelling bee a couple years ago. Musicals make the world go round yo!) I asked him what was the matter and his response was one of the saddest things ever… He lamented that no one really applauded him during his curtain call. He said that…

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I Was Probably Almost Shot, But Not By Cupid’s Arrow

Yesterday was Valentine’s day.  I usually don’t do anything special for that day.. it is safe to say that I have NEVER done anything special for that day but with new beginnings come new things. Without going through the details It quickly ended and I was experiencing a cascade of different emotions that were becoming overwhelming and not something I wanted to deal with at the moment so I called up a friend and went drinking/clubbing in Woodbrook. Tequila is a quick fix. I needed that, but my thoughts and emotions were forcing its way back and there was only so much alcohol I could handle before I become a hot mess. I wanted to go home… sleep and forgot the entire day ever happened.

After getting some doubles on “the Avenue”, we continued to walk to Port of Spain. While walking south along Richmond Street (still in my own head about the events of the day) my attention was drawn to a car that was parked in the middle of the road; no lights were on, and a man making an attempt to break into it, by a “what going on dey boy” from one of the young men who were walking just a short distance ahead of us along the same path. As they neared the vehicle, the man who was attempting to break in stepped back and went onto the side walk. They stopped. And asked him “what you trying to do dey?” he said that his keys got locked in and he’s trying to get in… Yeah…not buying that!

The group of young men and I approached the car to inspect to see if there was anyone on the inside, unconscious or otherwise. My friend stood back.  Maybe it was the alcohol in my system but I couldn’t see through the glass. It was dark inside so all I really ended up seeing was my reflection.  *a fire service vehicle passed* He asked us to help him get in the car. I said ok cool. Lemme call the police to help and asked my friend to dial 999 (for those of you who do not know our emergency number). The operator picked up. I told her that there was a in the middle of the road at the corner of Duke and Richmond Street and that there was a suspicious character hanging about. The license plate was PCT 8130 and it was a Silver Nissan something. (I don’t know car models). The guy was of African descent, unkempt hair, dingy white V-neck jersey and dirty khaki shorts. They said they’ll pass the information on. I asked how long would it be till the authorities arrive. She said she could not say and hung up.

By this time the group of fellas had started to walk away. I told my friend that he could go as well, but I felt the need to stay to see it through and bear witness. You see , when I intervene in a situation (like the baby that fell from Queen’s Park Oval, the UWI student who is struggling to stop using drugs, the highway kid) I tend to become invested in the outcome.  I don’t do these things to make myself feel like a good person, but I actually do care about the people that are involved in it. I find it difficult to dissociate myself from the victims; I’ve been described as an empath, but I not about that label life, call me Triston. My friend said he didn’t want to walk by himself and stayed as well… I wish he didn’t.

I am torn now! Do I stay and see it through or do I go with my friend. I want to do both but clearly I can’t. I pondered it for a moment and in that moment the Fire Service vehicle passed again. I attempted to stop it, going as far as going into the road… they drove around me. WHAT D F*CK JED! So they don’t think I am attempting to stop them for a reason? There is a F*cking car in the middle of the road! That at least should be of some concern! I pondered again. Two vehicles with flashing blue lights passed in the area; one to the top and one to the bottom of Richmond Street; none of which turned down. did they get the memo? I called the police again and inquired about their ETA. The Suspicious character left then left in haste, threatening something about “marking my face” and coming back with a gun to “shoot up my MODA CONT”.  For the most part I was unbothered, but I was there with my friend and I have him to consider as well. knowing better than to turn my back on a threat I kept my eyes on  the suspicious character and once he was out of sight, we left as well, taking a different route further and more convoluted than our initial one.

I am home with a hangover now and I have a lot of unanswered questions. What came of the situation after that, did the police eventually respond to the emergency call? Where was the driver of the stalled vehicle all this time?  Was the suspicious character’s threat sincere or just some scare tactic? If I were shot, would it hurt less than heartbreak? and when will this wretched hangover wear off! Only one of these questions I will know the answer to. The rest.. who knows?

gunshot_to_the_heart_by_chrispop

Dive Roll for your life: An epic tale where preparation meets inopportunity

They say everything happens for a reason. Back in my High School days, I used to do gymnastics/ acrobatics. Funnest memories were of dive rolling through hoops for a presentation for the school. Folks like Jillia Cato, Roannta Dalrymple and Jivaan Bennett were also part of that troupe. Good times :). I just found the certificate from  the acrobatics camp we did in 2002 and realized two things. 1. My name was spelled incorrectly, and 2. the training I received there is still embedded somewhere in my subconscious and is perhaps what saved my face and quite possibly my life back in 2014.

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On Tuesday 17th June 2014, I walked away from yet another robbery attempt. For some reason I had recently become a person of interest to the criminal element. When would people realize that what I have that is worth anything at all is intangible? What I have is up here <Points to head> and in here <touches heart> and no one could never take it by force.  #ThugLyfe!

So here’s what happened…

I was waiting by Kaydonna on the Highway for a taxi to head to a rehearsal in Port of Spain. I’d been waiting there for some time.. about three green lights (If I can use that as a measurement of time) when a vehicle; which was later described by someone who made a police report as a “Silver Honda Fit”, turning onto the highway from the southern main road stopped in front of me. It wasn’t an “H” car, it was a “P” but that’s nothing out of the ordinary in our society, and heck, when taxis running scarce and you have somewhere to be P/H doh really make a difference. I noted that when the car stopped it didn’t stop in the way a regular taxi would stop.. ah mean, It didn’t flash its lights, so for a split second I thought it stopped for someone else… I even looked around to see who it could have stopped for, but I was the only one there, so I hopped in because I knew If i was late,  Carol would have had my hide. (I ended up giving my hide it to the asphalt instead.. but we reaching there). The car was being driven by a slim, possibly tall man of African descent, very prominent cheek bones, scruffy, patchy sets of facial hair and either plaits or dreadlocks… the inside of the car was dark.

Kaydonna

Kaydonna

Somewhere along the highway, which may or may not have been El Socorro, (the last feature I recalled was a walkover), a male voice in the back seat told the driver “Slow down here”. I thought.. wait na… somebody else here? but didn’t pay it much mind. When he slowed to a stop, an arm wrapped round my neck from the back seat and the voice said “Doh move!” initially I thought this is some kinda prank (as I have done similar pranks before… Karma may be coming back to me). I sat calm and uninterested but  when I noticed the driver motion, as if to lock the door, my survival mode kicked in and I immediately opened my door. I saw some men across the road by a Chinese restaurant and began calling out to the men…. I called and called and they just stood there and watched… I yelled “they’re trying to rob me”.. still not a flinch, not a look of agitation,  not a nothing… they just stood and watched. That annoyed the fcuk outa me… Clearly I am going to have to be my own salvation. From this point on everything happened very quickly… I was hit on top the head from the back a couple times and  the voice said “make noise and ah go shoot yuh”… I have said it before.. in my bubble, guns don’t exist. I am not intimidated by folks who tell me or indicate that they have a gun.. I dunno why.. but somehow that just makes them look weak in my eyes. (I think it has something to do with me being unarmed, which makes brandishing a weapon on their end quite cowardly) but I digress. I started kicking the open car door… It was my intention to break it or something… I’m not sure if a human can break off a car door, but it didn’t hurt to try. With the door still open; my legs kicking at it violently, and my range of movement limited by the arm from the unknown in still wrapped tightly around my neck – The driver sped off.

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Silver Honda Fit

While speeding, we passed a  guy standing by the highway (probably waiting on a taxi)… not too sure if he even knew what was going on. The area where the car was at this point was lined by businesses and industries, all closed at this time; up ahead – to the left of the highway was bush; lots and lots of bush, to the right, the Beetham; a village that is notorious for criminal activity and I would be dammed if I let myself be taken into, or stranded in that area. Plus, the longer I stayed the more speed that was being built up.  Forgetting that I was strapped in (seat belts save lives.) I made a failed attempt to jump out of the vehicle. My foot touched the floor… it felt like it almost broke. I processed that thought and wondered If jumping out was the best option. Before my mind could make up itself, my arms unbuckled the seat belt and I threw myself out. The meat of my shoulder made first impact; I tucked my head in, (in retrospect, the technique I learned in gymnastics from Mr. Robinson), then my butt hit and I tumbled a good few times on the asphalt before I stood up, (saw that the car had stopped, the door was closed, and then it sped off again). I walked very giddily for a considerable distance, passed the guy we passed on the highway (who made no attempt to assist while i stumbled toward him) before collapsing.

Everything was a daze, I could hear chatter, I could feel myself lifted and eventually rested on very itchy grass and I heard a male voice say “What we should do? Should we call 911?”.. Well now look how I up! It is absolutely mind boggling that there are persons who don’t even know the emergency numbers for their own country! 911??!! you for real?? I had to be dreaming!! I was still trying to make sense of that sentence/ question with the group of male voices still trying to figure out what to do. I swear it was absolutely depressing.I was lifted again…. well… supported rather, my arm over his neck and my face in his grey hair, an elderly man took me over to the chinese resturant .. the same one I mentoned before, the guys who were trying to figure out what to do were the same guys I was calling out to not to long ago. I later asked them “Did ya’ll hear me calling out to you before??” They confessed that they heard but thought If they went over they will be robbed too.. so they did nothing.. Well look how that annoyed me! One guy said that he and his cousin were coming over, but that was when the driver took off. In the short time I was there If you hear how the story changed among these men. By the time I left I was hearing that they stole my car, beat me up and threw me out 😐

Back to the old guy who carried me to the Chinese restaurant, I asked him his name, he said it is Ian Waithe. Now this is a man with sense. He said he was driving behind the car when he saw me tumble out and he said to himself “but what d jail is this!!” He turned around and came back. He said he also called 999.. Yes that is our emergency number for the police people and said the phone just kept ringing. He said he had two sons of his own.. grown like me and he would like to think that if it were his sons in my situ, someone would have done the same for them. Such a sweet old man he was. After a while he found that he been waiting too long and no authorities arrived yet (turns out someone called, got through but told the officers that it was on El Socorro Road… not the highway), so he took me to a Police station in the area… now this is where things get interesting. We were told that they don’t take police reports at that station, because it is the traffic branch and we’d have to go over to Barataria police station to make a report. Well to me that is a load of shit! so I said.. that doh make any kinda sense to me and negotiated my way into making a preliminary report. I also called my mum from the station and gave her the short version of the story. she asked how I was feeling- My response: “Like frigging batman”. While making the report though, I was getting the impression that the officers were more interested in the world cup than my situation… and lord knows I loathe bad customer service. Another annoying thing was .. I am telling my story to one officer and another officer would ask me a question or questions I have already covered… It was fcuking annoying. Let me finish my story and then you could ask questions… doh interrupt. And I was interrupted by possibly two or three officers. The same thing happened at the Barataria Police Station (Yup! I still had to go make the report there), but 8414 PC Maloney was a lot more attentive. So bug shout out to him 🙂  Surprisingly my dad showed up there… I didn’t know how he found me but at least I wont be travelling home.. I could have barely walked.

I went to Mt. Hope got checked out. I have minor cuts and bruises along my right side with my shoulder and butt cheek taking most of the damage.. hence the asphalt having my hide reference. God spared my face! 🙂  I expect that my back would hurt like a bitch when I wake up.. but on the flip side, I bounce up Adam Khan and another Georgian.. Ameera i think it is, in the hospital. Georgians everywhere boy!… but at least I kept my $11. I work hard for dat. You eh getting dat without a fight! Everyone who has heard the story.. the police.. the people who stood by and did nothing, Mr. Waithe all said that I was brave.. that word was being thrown around a lot. Thing is, I didn’t act out of fear, I was thinking about all the work I have been getting that I would have left undone. I’m a workaholic. Too many things going for me now for my story to end here.

My dad on the way home asked what did I have that’s so important to risk my life for? To that I responded

“The only thing I have control over is my own actions.  I saw an opportunity and took it. I cannot leave my salvation in someone else’s hands, If I let them take me who knows how that would have ended. I will be in control of my own destiny”

My brother said “I hope now you see that Chinidad dangerous and come out of that spirit finger bubble u living in!”

Trinidad is still a wonderful place to me. I am still not afraid to walk at nights and all dem thing and maintain that Trinidad could be a lot better If people band together to help persons in need and not always think f how it will affect them. here is strength in numbers. We must band together to overcome the criminal elements plaguing our society. Props again to Mr. Ian Waithe.

My brother also recorded my mother applying mentholated spirit to my bruises. we still laugh at that. lol.

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The Completely Unnecessary but Very Impressive Back and Forth Dance of Sean Brown

On October 13th 2014 I met a vagrant who’s name is Sean Browne. I never give vagrants money, but I did shake his hand, told him he was awesome … started to walk away but  returned to give him a high five. It’s not money but it felt good to contribute that much. I hope it felt good for him too. I don’t know anyone who would want to touch a vagrant, let alone go back to touch them again. Here’s how that came to pass…

I was at Drink! Wine Bar for a meeting with Timmia E. Hearn Feldman, Carol Chibueze, Katherine McEwan, Zeleca Julien and Richie Daly from I Am One; a new NGO that I am working with. Although I was there for business, I will admit that the meeting concluded on a more relaxed tone… especially when a male friend of some of the ladies, who; being  a heterosexualwhite male, described himself as minority in Trinidad. I chuckled at that because he is probably right. He was the first white male that I have met that fell in that category. He offered to buy us drinks because he supports what I Am One is about. He asked me if I wan’t it Hard or Soft – referring to the drink- and I gave him a look that said I can so say something inappropriately sexual right now. We laughed. This guy seemed cool and because of that, for the purposes of this account I will refer to him as Jake. Yes! That’s his name… Jake from State Farm. He  would be a major player in the events that followed.

From the Left: Timmia, Kate and Richie finalizing the updates to the social media platforms for I AM One.

From the Left: Timmia, Kate and Richie finalizing the updates to the social media platforms for I AM One.

By this time now, we had broken off into different conversations; Tim and some other ladies were chatting with Jake from State Farm, My back was turned to them as I was rambling on about something to Kate. One of my early life adventures that I probably statused or wrote a note about at one point. So there I was telling my story with full dramatic flair as I have been known to do when a voice, with a hint of melancholy, interrupted.

“Ah doh mean to bother allyuh but…”

I turned around to see a vagrant; a man of african descent, probably in his mid-late 20s / early 30s by my guess, a Chalton Heston’s Moses kinda beard, A dark sexy smooth midnight complexion, a full length denim pants that only looked black because of how dirty it was; which was up by a piece of string which caused it to bundle by his waist. He had no shoes, was bareback and had Greek God kinda abs. Albeit dirty, he was a good looking young fella.

I NEVER give vagrants money. If I have the means to however,  I would be more willing to buy them food because I feel they’re more likely inclined to use the money on vices that they do not need and that will keep them where they are… on the streets.  As I didn’t have  the means at that point to offer food, and I had no intention of giving him a shilling even, I just shook my head in a “Sorry, can’t help you today” kinda way early off when he started. But Jake from State Farm…. nope, He got Loud… and unnecessarily so and cut him off with-

“NO! NO! YOU CAN’T START A CONVERSATION WITH EXCUSE ME I DON’T MEAN TO BOTHER YOU… AND THEN START BOTHERING PEOPLE. GO BACK! GO BACK, TAKE A COUPLE MINUTES THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO SAY AND TRY YOUR SALES PITCH AGAIN!!!”

I was instantly irritated! I turned away.. was facing Kate and I just cringed. I think everyone did. Was all that even necessary? You can say no with out making a scene you know. Ugh! The man left and, though it was awkward to get back in conversation at that point,  I continued where I left off telling my story to Kate.

A couple minutes later, I hear a different voice.

“Hello, Good Evening, my name is Sean Browne, may I have a moment of your time. Would you all consider giving me $20….”

It was the same guy from before. Speaking in standard english and using an American accent. I wasn’t sure If he was immitating Jake from State Farm (who also had an American Accent) in an effort to impress him, or if he always had it.  It was impressive. On one hand it was sad that he actually came back after Jake from State Farm was so nasty with him, but the fact that he actually changed his “sales pitch” and tried a different approach… THIS GUY WAS AWESOME! I battled with the idea of pulling out my phone to record it cause it felt like it could be adding to the shaming process. I asked Timmia, she advised that I shouldn’t for the same reason, and I was good with that. Y’all should have seen it though. Almost everyone was smiling and decided to pitch in to give him a couple dollars. (Well except me.. I was smiling, but I sill won’t give him money.) It was a marvelous sales pitch, I said to Sean OMG YOU ARE AWESOME! I LOVE YOU!!!! I was really very impressed. Somewhere along the line, a guy in a reflective jacket.. community police perhaps, approached the scene on his bicycle, and attempted to run Sean from the area. Zeleca assured him that it’s fine; that he’s not bothering us and that there was no need for aggression. He parked his bike and stood watch menacingly anyway, but at least he let Sean stay. Someone; I can’t remember who, gave the money that was scraped together to Sean, who then looked to Jake from State Farm and asked:

“Will I be getting anything from you kind sir?

This was Jake’s response:

“NO! NO! GO BACK! YOU CAN’T COME AND PITCH SOMETHING WHILE BAREBACK AND WEARING NO SHOES! GO BACK AND CHANGE YOUR APPROACH AND TRY AGAIN!!”

Da fuq?!? Was Jake from State Farm serious?? All this is unnecessary though. My blood was boiling. I was pissed, but not pissed enough to say something yet, but Thankfully, I didn’t have to. Timmia and Carol spoke up and asked Jake from State Farm why was he being like that? I think the word “dickish” was used. *chortle* (dickish I’d be using that :-P) they asked why wouldn’t he give Sean some money because he came back specifically because He asked him to an the whole new ‘sales pitch’ was to impress him… and now he’s sending him back to do it again.

Jake from State Farm: “I’m not going to give him any money cause he’s going to use it to smoke rocks. He’s a crack head”

Tim: “and so what? You’re here drinking Rum! How do you know that anyway?!”

Jake from State Farm: “Well let’s ask him. Hey! Do you smoke rocks?”

Sean: “Yes, I Smoke Rocks”

Jake from State Farm: “See I know a crack head when I see one. Y’all just giving him money to go away.”

One of the other ladies (I can’t remember who) chimed in: “We’re giving him money because we were impressed. He came back ONLY because you asked him to come back.

At this time I noticed that Sean left

Carol: “You’re making him go back and forth -sorry to say this but- like some kinda trained monkey”

Jake from State Farm: “I was never going to give him money in the 1st place. We had that understanding from the start”

Various people: “No that was not the impression you gave. If you’re not going to give him anything why keep telling him to come back?”

Tim: “How dare you sit from your position of power and make him do all of that? It take nothing for you to just give him something but it takes everything for him to keep coming back to try to impress you”

The discourse continued for a while, then Sean came back very upbeat and charismatic. Probably almost like a caricature.

“Hey everybody! I hope you’re enjoying your evening…”

He was trying yet another approach to impress Jake from State Farm. By this time it was humiliating. I felt embarrassed for him. I wanted to hug him. We couldn’t have this guy coming back and forth like this. It is sooo not cool! Carol dipped into her bag and pulled out a $20.. the $20 that Sean asked for earlier and invited him to come for it. Jake from State Farm objected quite vociferously, so I took the $20 went over to Sean myself. I shook his hand, (my mother’s face twisted in horror when I told her that :-P), told him he was awesome once more and gave him the money…. started to walk away but then turned back and gave him a high five. It’s not money but it felt good to contribute that much.. I hope it felt good for him too. Don’t know how many regular people would actually touch a vagrant, far less for shaking their hand and giving them high fives. That being said, I immediately went inside to wash my hands.

When I came back out, Sean was still there. I didn’t really catch the conversation but at some point it was said by one of the ladies

“..but he’s still a person, you don’t know how he got here, who are you to judge.”

Just before Sean left he asked if we could do him a favor… he gave us a number and asked us to call his mother and tell her that we saw her son, and that he’s alright and also to let her know that he says to stop paying for the house, he doesn’t need it. I’m tearing up right now typing it. I took the number and as soon as I credit my phone I will definitely give her a call.

Just throwing it out there to who ever may read… what would you have done in that situation?

UPDATE: I met Sean again, and I did call the number he gave me. I’ll be writing about that soon. Do you see those four horizontal lines to the right? Click it and subscribe to Story of My Life to be notified when a new entry has been published. 🙂

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A Nigga Moment in Port of Spain

Nigga Moment:-(noun)

  1. A violent altercation caused by “ignorance overwhelming the logic of an otherwise rational negro man”
  2. A moment when ignorance overwhelms the mind of an otherwise rational negro man, causing him to act in an illogical self destructive manner. i.e. like a nigga. Nigga moments are unpredictable and if they had their own category they’ll be the third leading killer of black men behind pork chops and FE.M.A. It’s a fact.
  3. Perpetual conflict between niggas over trivial or ignorant things.

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This is a story from long ago; June 14th 2014 actually, but watch closely! I am about to witness a Nigga Moment. I had a long day that started quite early with an audition for the National theatre Arts Company of Trinidad and Tobago continued with Rehearsal for Marionettes’ Production of Les Miserables, The Love Movement’s “Love Notes” concert at Queen’s Hall Concert and somewhere along the line I decided to attend the Cast Party in Maraval for the recently concluded production of Jesus Christ Superstar. By the time I left it was late into the evening, I was tired, but feeling good about a productive theatre filled day… but tired all the same.

On the way to Port of Spain from Maraval, I apparently fell asleep in the taxi. I didn’t realise that I was sleeping till I woke up. Air conditioning can make that happen sometimes. I was in the front passenger seat. My forehead still slightly slumped and pressed against the window, I recognized that we were on lower Charlotte Street Port of Spain, We’re almost at Independence square, a few vehicles away actually. I was too lazy to get out and walk the remaining distance so I allowed my body the luxury of taking it’s time to wake up as the driver  slowly… and I mean very slowly negotiated pedestrians and market stalls with his vehicle till he reaches the final stop. We were moving at snail pace but at some point I noticed we weren’t moving at all. I raised my head and looked through the windshield, there was this white van in front of us, smack dab in the middle of the already narrow road. The driver of the van came out and processded to walk toward one of the vegetable stalls to my left. My eyes squinted and my brow became wrinkled. I thought, “Don’t tell me this fool stopped in the middle of the road- inconveniencing everybody, to go and do market”, I was annoyed. Turns out that buying fresh goods was not his objective. He came out of his vehicle to get into a confrontation with another man who was wearing a big blue bag and purchasing bananas. Jes so Jes so outa no where? I was confused and annoyed. The AC was still on and the windows still up in the taxi so I was’t hearing what this beef was all about and I didn’t have the energy to want to find out. I was just mentally preparing in the event shit go down hill.  The van man then returned to his vehicle- I was moving rel ignorant from jump so I already anticipated that he was going into his vehicle to pull out a weapon, a cutlass or quite possibly- a gun.

Just so you know- he didn’t. He got in his vehicle and drove away-or so I thought. When I got out of the taxi and was about to cross the road, I heard some commotion to the side of me. As it turned out, the diver of the white van just went around the corner and was waiting to continue the confrontation with the banana man. They were in heated argument and it was only then I was able to assess to what was the genesis of this confrontation. As It turns out, as Van man was driving down Charlotte Street, also negotiating the tight squeeze of vending stalls and pedestrians, his vehicle made contact with the bag of Banana man and dragged him for some distance. Banana man exclaimed “Wham! yuh cyah say sorry o wa?” and Van man felt disrespected and felt he did not need to apologize; hence the confrontation. What so hard about saying “I’m Sorry”? ugh! Ignorant sh!t. It was then I became aware that I am witnessing a Nigga Moment.

As I was already out, and it was playing off right next to me, I was ready to add some sense into this senseless conflict. Thankfully I didn’t have to. Instead of poking the fire as I have become accustomed to seeing, pulling out recording devices and what have you, a considerable number of males who were nearby intervened and attempted to diffuse the situation. Some restrained the aggressor (Van man) while others escorted Banana man to the other side of the road. I crossed the road as well feeling proud of my fello Trinis. They handled it well, but as we would soon find out, this Nigga Moment was far from over.

There was a commotion back where Van man was. The following series of events happened quickly. The men who just escorted banana man across the street, upon hearing the commotion sprinted back, I turned around just in time to see a missile coming my way. I couldn’t decipher what it was b ut it was coming fast, I ducked ad perhaps it was the sound of the crash or the fact that I was looking directly at what was in Van man’s hands that I knew it was a bottle. Where he get all dem bottles from I don’t know. Slightly Irritated, but probably more committed to disarming van man I was about to run across to him when another commotion broke out behind me, from Banana man’s side of the road. Banana man somehow out of no where magically produced bottles and was preparing to launch. I was closest to him so I went to restrain him instead. Two or three other men joined me in restraining him while others took the bottles from his hand and rested them on the ground near by. Banana man was wilding out so It almost took all of us to restrain him so we didn’t really have the time or man power to get the bottles far away before having to restrain him again. He still managed to launch a few. We had our hands full.

As if the situation as it was wasn’t bad enough, one of the restrainers accidentally got hit by Banana man during he struggle and in response to that he did the most illogical thing to pacify the situation. He Hit Him Back. Now both of these fools started brawling and scramble for weapons they could use against each other. I was witnessing a Nigga Moment within a Nigga moment and I was shocked tha hell out.  I stood their astonished and confused. I can’t even remember what happened to the other guys who were assisting with banana man, It’s like they just disappeared. All I could do was stand back and and watched it play out. The police eventually arrived and got the situation under control. Me- I was still standing there- still trying to process what just happened. One thing I knew for certain though. That was one hellova Nigga Moment.

This was three days before my “Tuck and Roll” incident. If you never saw my facebook note about that, I’ll be blogging about that soon. Stay tuned.