All work and no play

There isn't a Jamaican alive who will refute the proverb "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". In fact yardies have changed the saying to "Nuff play and little work makes Roy a happy boy".

Though Roy, a healthy Jamaican male, knows that he must go to work to pay either his JPS/Digicel/NWC or baby modda Sonia's hairdressing bills, the thought of work induces pain from his neck-back to his backside.  When Roy thinks of his job, he subconsciously recalls the plantation fields, and quite naturally aims to avoid working as much as possible.

It isn't unusual to hear Roy griping about the "Bossman." It seems the Bossman's greatest pleasure is derived from breaking Roy's back.  Mysteriously, the aforementioned back straightens when his wifey, Sheryl, has gone to her job and sexy Sonia requests a drive to Halfway Tree.  Roy’s "pardy's", like his matey Sonia, are also blessed with Jesus-like powers in healing his back.  Whenever Roy is slapped on the shoulder by Everton, Lindell, or Trevor his pains magically disappear; making it possible for him to leave his yard and accompany them to the nearest rum bar, football match or racetrack.

Sheryl, like Roy, doesn’t care much for her job. Almost everyday at work one can hear Sheryl kissing her teeth, especially when the Bossman asks her to do something before she has had her morning coffee: “Cho, a wah ‘im want eeh?” Questions posed by Cheryl are purely rhetorical and should never be answered, unless the foolish person wants to trigger an even sharper kiss teet’ and a quick cut-eye. In Sheryl’s mind, she has showered, powdered, dressed herself in work clothes, and traveled for forty-five minutes to the despised job, with sweat dripping down her blouse. Why should anything more be asked of her? The sole thought that crosses Sheryl’s mind at the sound of her boss’s voice, while she drinks her overly-sweetened coffee, is “Him caan wait ‘til after lunch to ask him fool fool questions?”

To be fair to Jamaicans who differ much from Roy and Sheryl, two weeks ago it was printed in a respected Jamaican journal, that there are some Jamaicans who take their jobs seriously and work very hard; even to the point of making themselves ill. The article states:

"My job in entertainment affected me like a rare sub-Saharan disease. After only a year and a half, which made me the most senior staff member at the company, the weight started to drop, curious amoeba-shaped spots covered my face, and my body would convulse at the sight of memos with the company heading- I was an overworkaleptic!

The thing that bothered me most about the job was that we worked on every holiday. Though I’m not a regular churchgoer, I would love to have Ash Wednesday off like the rest of the country. On Easter Sunday, I wanted to eat chocolate bunnies, bun and cheese, and chocolate eggs, until I vomited in multi-color on the bed-sheets. The lack of free time made it impossible to do anything outside of work. Additionally, I wanted to finish my degree, but I told my lecturer that although Frederick Douglass, Julia Cooper, and others had done it, I couldn’t  simultaneously be a slave and a student.

The only decent part of the job was the bottle of Appleton that I kept under my desk. Ahh, the bottle... It was a remnant of one of our company’s events that probably took no less than 800 hours and twice as many lost hair strands to organize. At lunchtime my co-workers, who like me all had two titles, (Marketing Manager/Web Designer, Public Relations Manager/Receptionist, Cameraman/Lunchboy, Production Assistant /Janitor), would come to my desk with Lucozade bottles, which we would half empty into the potted plants. We’d mix and sip until we felt better about our conditions.

After a particularly bad outbreak of overworkalepsy, which left me in cold sweats and such weight loss that I could wear a large paper towel sheet as a shirt, I gave my boss my resignation letter. It should have read: “Dear Mas’ X, Thanks for killing me slowly and forcing me to flee the cane fields of Trafalgar Road. I’m sorry I must take my back with me when I go, so you’ll have nothing to break but your right leg when in karmic debt you trip down a flight of stairs. And your left leg, when in a freaky twist of fate, a cat appears and trips you as you walk to your car. Best regards, The Runaway.” However, it read “Dear Mr. X, Thanks for all your support and encouragement. This job is amazing, however, I must leave to pursue my dreams. Sincerely, Sonia.”"

I remain skeptical about the article above, because a Jamaican overworkaleptic seems very unlikely. A Jamaican working overtime and holidays?  As most of us know, Noah in the Old Testament was Jamaican, and he valued his “play” over his work. The Jamaican Bible states that when God encouraged him to hurry up and finish the damn boat, he replied, “Mm hm, soon come.”