November 10, 2008

When The Downtown Thugs Come Uptown

This was written in response to the shooting of a BP engineer at Crobar one Friday afternoon.

So, you are a hardworking professional relaxing in a popular after-work liming spot in Woodbrook on a Friday with your office buddies. You laughing, kicksing and old-talking the night away because to be honest, you had a hard week of bosses and clients pushing buttons you didn’t even know you had. Besides, it is moments like this with your friends that make the extra years you spent slaving away on that degree and/or working for peanuts while interning, seem worth it. You may not be a millionaire yet, but at least you could buy a “rounds” and reflect on life with the people who make you feel good.

You are among others like you, black, white, red, Indian and everything in between. Your watering hole of choice is not overly hoity toity i.e. no bouncers at the entrance weeding out potential thugs. As such, a colourful mélange of individuals feel comfortable there from the boss of your ad agency, to expat BP engineers to construction workers to your Rasta friend who makes jewelry. So you liming, when a bunch of young men stroll in, their body language proclaiming, “Ah reach, what you staring at?!”.

Now, you with your enlightened “all ah we is one” altruism take their posturing with good natured tolerance after all, who isn’t “gangsta chic” these days. But as the night progresses, alcohol levels increase, inhibition levels decrease, these young men become increasingly obnoxious, loud, foul-mouthed and not in that intelligent, creative way literate people spice up one or two sentences with a well-timed cuss word. What is more, the members of this gangsta crew seem to have a huge chip on their shoulder and want everyone to know it. They stare down patrons with intent and hostility. Their idea of playful flirting with the women gathered there, is open hungry staring, aggressive suggestions followed by insults if ignored. And most of the women at the watering hole, many of whom are career professionals, do ignore them. The crude, disrespectful and scary bad boy mating rituals might work on a street corner Passa Passa block party in Morvant, but among these set of women, in this setting, it just does not fly.

Of course, the gangsta patrons are not the most empathetic of socialisers. As far as they are concerned, they have money to flaunt and all must bow! After all, isn’t that what the rap, dance-hall and our corrupt political and social landscape says; money equals automatic respect. So who the hell these upptity women think they are, especially the ones who black just like them? All women should find them irresistible when they flash their gold-toothed, leering smile. Frustrated by the lack of attention and respect they start getting belligerent, seeking out the slightest opportunity to demonstrate their clout. Homophobic slurs start to fly as they refer to some of the men gathered there, most of whom are not even gay,just well spoken. People start to become uncomfortable all of a sudden, it becomes increasingly clear, these young men are not posing as gangtas, they are the real thing.

Now, I am not one to spit on ambition. Many an upstanding, successful person in this country started out as a good for nothing scamp back in the old days. But even our good old bad boys of the 1920s would clout these ruffians upside the head and tell them to have some decorum, values and treat the women with respect.


The money they throw around with bravado was ill-begotten and that glint in their eye is real anger, not just bad bwoy attitude. They behave the way they do, not because they are trying to “play bad” but because they are bad. They are not pretending to be crude, they actually have no social graces whatsoever. They live purely on greed, gratification, adrenaline and anger. Their fuse is short. These are not people who can excuse themselves or accept a simple, “Excuse me,” from another person who happens to mash their foot or spill a drink. They have been raised from infancy with no other emotional tools, self-disciplinary acumen or moral inculcation other than, “If you get me vex, ah go beat your ass”. Therefore, if anyone dares embarrasses, inconveniences, outsmarts, outshines or corrects them, they think is perfectly understandable to pull out a knife and stab them or if necessary, in the case of the ill-fated BP engineer, they leave to retrieve their gun and come back and shoot them and anyone else in the way.

Unless you are willing to forego your rootsiness and hang out at places that have imitation American sports bar, South Beach or Irish pub settings, bouncers, hostesses and charge $20.00 for a beer you will have to encounter these thugs. They have fat pockets full of drug money to spend. They want to hang out where you hang out. They want to prove they could pull women who are better than the desperate skettel baby mamas in their neighbourhood. They want to show, “Dey is man too,” to the suit and tie wearing former St. Mary’s, QRC, Naparima and Fatima boys.

Now, I am not one to spit on ambition. Many an upstanding, successful person in this country started out as a good for nothing scamp back in the old days. But even our good old bad boys of the 1920s would clout these ruffians upside the head and tell them to have some decorum, values and treat the women with respect.

My dear hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding, trying –hard- to- keep- optimistic- about this- country- while- you-slip- from- middle- to- working- class, warriors, our after-work lime is coming to an end. Liming buddies, get your living rooms and galleries ready, because it will soon be our last safe bastion on a Friday evening, on our budget. The middle-class works the hardest, pays the most taxes and now even this simplest of our Trini pleasures; public liming, is being taken away by crime and our government’s incompetence. Soon only gun wielding thugs and the super rich who can hire bodyguards will be able to enjoy it. The bright side is perhaps it will prove to be the last straw that breaks our apathy.

1 comment:

Rana said...

was just browsing trini blogs and came across this entry, well written and an experience thats unfortunately all too familiar. i pray that our gov't gets their act together in terms of crime and soon!