CaMy and Her MoneyGram Dilemma

It was Saturday. It was the day of rest. Seriously. However, I had an emergency to attend to and I had to get it done today. No pay for yet another fortnight had resulted in me borrowing a ‘smalls’ from my sister in the UK to tide me over until another fortnight arrived and with it my hope of being paid. Finally. You see, three fortnight’s salaries were outstanding and bwoy, my patience was wearing thin. I was down to my last taxi fare and my purse was EMPTY except for that.

Now then, the sun was blooming and all was well for the time being. I had earlier received the 8-digit reference number and was in the process of getting ready to go to town to collect. My list had been made mentally if not on paper. Partner (can’t afford to start owing already. I am a newbie)[check], debt to my nephew inclusive for buying the new lock on my bedroom door[check], wage for the lady who looks after my daughter in the afternoons (she was three weeks overdue)[check], my little shopping in the supermarket[check]. Yes, my mind could be at ease for now! And if any discomfort should arise, I could always dream of the lump sum to be paid two weeks time! As if!

I sang lustily as I made my ablutions. Soon I was now ready to walk my half mile to the square for my taxi when lo and behold a shower of rain blasted from the wide blue skies. It lasted for nearly fifteen minutes. I sat and fumed silently. I secretly worried that this must be divine intervention for breaking the Sabbath. At last, the rain vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared and the sun shone again. I rolled up my white trousers’ legs as best as I could and made my way out. The sun shone with a vengeance and I skirted puddles but all was well again.

Finally I made it to the square- splashless- and eased under a shop piazza to await the taxis. You see, this was a popular route and I know one would cruise by soon. Five minutes crept by. Ten and then fifteen minutes. By now, nuggets of fear were crawling up and down my spine. I had mentally earmarked the Jamaica National branch in town for my collection point and I knew that closing time was near. Half an hour ticked by and still no taxi. My heart was now upping the beat. I did not want the bank to close on me! And to make matters worse, the rain clouds were hovering AGAIN!

Finally, when I thought that all was lost Maas Vinnie came into sight with his battered Toyota station wagon. I quickly hopped in and away we sped to town as fast as the pothole-riddled roads would allow. Notwithstanding, the many bumps and bank-riding to avoid some of the yawning pothole traps, we arrived in town. I peered into JN and saw a long line of customers. My heart quickened and I alighted post haste and dashed to the entrance. I grabbed the door and pulled hard. Nothing happened. That’s when I saw most of the customers staring blankly at me. In my zeal to get inside, I failed to notice the lock was in place. My eyes flew to the opening and closing times emblazoned on the door – Saturdays: 12:30pm. I grinned shamefacedly and made an about turn. My mind worked furiously. Where else could I go? NCB was closed. The post office similarly. A supermarket which previously offered this service had bit the economic dust. You see, I was so fixated on getting to JN that the thoughts of going to other MoneyGram agents did not even dawn on me. Light bulb – there was an agent further in the town. Problem solved. I tripped gaily towards this location and entered the room. The line was longish but I could afford to wait. I was number seven. I occupied my time by studying the occupants in the line ahead. Most wore a hardened expression that bespoke of rough times. I got the distinct impression that a smile would crack their permanent masks into irreparable pieces. I felt their pain. A tall slimmish dark skinned woman in the line kept a running commentary with an older man standing to one side. She had nicely braided hair and a protruding stomach but was neatly dressed in jeans. I wondered at the relationship. Slowly the line inched. Idly, I read the signs and notices posted. A doctor was advertising himself and his services at a nearby plaza. There was a plaque from Lasco to the agent for meritorious services for the year 2005. I wondered at that with the teller’s face being so sour. Refurbished computers were selling upstairs for $23 000. A sound broke my concentration. The short dark woman at the counter hissed her teeth loudly. “A when since you need TRN? Mi gaw bank yessidy go collect di same Monyegram and dem neva axe mi fi it”. She hissed her teeth again and stamped from the counter. Persons were now commenting loudly. “A wonda if mi di bring mine?” a lady behind me said. I silently pondered too and thought how silly I was in exchanging handbags. My penniless state flashed before me. I wondered who I could ‘trust a drive’ from to go back home to collect it. I searched frantically in the bag and came up with my driver’s licence. I smiled again. A lady behind me dialled furiously on her cell phone begging ‘Sandra’ to bring the TRN. She pinpointed the handbag and its location in her home and explained her position in the line. Before hanging up, she beseeched ‘Sandra to come now as she didn’t want to lose her space in the line’. “Oh my”, I thought, “Sandra must not be too far away”. Further back, another lady had a dilemma of a different kind. She was ID-less. “A how mi manage lef di passport”, she lamented. Her next statement forced my brain into overdrive – “You see how di devil strong”. I instantly pictured the usual pitch fork caricature in a corner of a boxing ring with Mike Tyson at the other. My mind’s eyes bulged at the devil’s thigh muscles in boxer shorts! “Who will be the heavy weight champion in this matchup?” I wondered. “Would Mikey deliver a TKO in the first round?” I returned to the present when she moaned, “A wey mi a go do?”

I was now two places from the teller. I smiled hugely in anticipation of collecting the dividends. Suddenly, the place was plunged into darkness. JPS had done it again! My heart dipped in tune too. My earlier thoughts of crediting a taxi drive home flashed before me. In two shakes though, the lights blinked and all was well again. My heart resumed normal functioning. In due time, I proffered my completed form and ID across the counter to the teller and collected my cash. It wasn’t much but it would fill a gap and save face here and there. I counted the bills lovingly and plucked a few thousands from the pile. I pocketed the rest carefully and exited MoneyGram. My day was not lost in spite of! Was it my imagination or was the sun shining brighter than ever?