Complacency has set up shop in Jamaica, land we love

Letters to the Editor

Complacency has set up shop in Jamaica, land we love

Friday, July 12, 2019

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Dear Editor,

It need not be said that Jamaicans are among, if not the most patriotic people on Earth. Such pride in country is perhaps amplified in the diaspora, as the memories held dear of sweet Jamaica keep us in a perpetual state of nostalgia, eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to return home. After all, “no weh nuh betta dan yaad!”

Such an opportunity recently presented itself to me and my best gals, also Jamaicans. Three days 'a yaad' was the perfect antidote to our winter blues.

Most returning Jamaicans will agree that KFC is a mandatory 'excursion' during a trip home. And, in our case, excursion couldn't be a more fitting description.

When we arrived, the line was almost to the door. Against our better judgement and, despite the fact that there was one very grumpy-looking cashier working and the line moved at snail's pace, we queued up anyway. After we finally placed our orders, we then joined another line to wait for our food. A grand total of 90 minutes spent. When it came, I realised that they'd got my order wrong. Twice! A simple apology would certainly have taken the edge off, but, alas, I was only a customer.

Bank day seemed to be off to a more auspicious start. When we arrived, the bank was empty, save for the two souls sound asleep in the waiting area. Maybe we'd have time for one last beach jaunt.

As the morning wore on, people started to trickle in until the entire waiting area was full. As one hour turned into two, and still no word from or sign of our friend who had promised, “Soon come” as she was whisked off. We became bored, restless, and, frankly, worried. Unless she was wiring a large sum of money from an illicit off-shore account, no banking transaction should take that long. As far as we were concerned, she had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom.

We finally managed to connect to the Wi-Fi, only to discover that our friend had not been kidnapped at all. She was merely experiencing the drudgery of opening a bank account in Jamaica. And judging from her WhatsApp message: “Death and destruction,” she appeared to be under great stress. Three whole hours after arriving at the bank, now hungry and listless, we left.

Now, it is unlikely that I'd ever share these anecdotes with someone who isn't Jamaican. It's a bit like complaining to family about family, but to strangers I'm the greatest defender. Don't get me wrong, I am well aware that Jamaica is no Eden. But as a Jamaican, I feel comfortable saying in the very same breath, yes, it is! And, perhaps, therein lies the root of the problem that keeps our beloved Jamaica in this state: We know that it just doesn't make sense to wait an hour and half in line for fried chicken, or three hours to open an account, but we do it anyway. And we'll recount the experience to our social circles and 'tek bad tings mek laugh'.

But just like the family member we incessantly complain about, at some point the lines between frustration and enablement become blurred. Where action is forgone, complacency will thrive. And it is no secret that complacency has long set up shop in Jamaica. From the lines in KFC to the upper echelons of Government, complacency thrives. And unless each and every Jamaican, residing here or visiting, chooses to demand better, our Eden will never realise its true potential.

We deserve better. Jamaica deserves better.

When all else fails to organise the people, conditions will, said Marcus Garvey.

Alicia Lue

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