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?

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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.