Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Splashing those invisible people

Published:Tuesday | May 26, 2015 | 5:00 AMPatria-Kaye Aarons

I'm really thankful for the rain, as I'm sure most of us are. But the rain has a way of highlighting the insensitive among us. I took note from the safety of my little car just how many motorists drove and splashed pedestrians without even the slightest hesitation.

I saw an elderly lady in a bus stop flag down a silver Pajero with all the energy her little hand could muster, begging the driver to slow down and not splash her. He drenched her anyway. I saw two little boys in khakis walking home, taking shelter under a single raincoat. A car drove by and soaked them both, head to toe.

One defiant Rastaman on a bicycle in Barbican was armed and ready for any motorist who dared to splash him. In his right hand as he rode, the man clutched a 'rock stone'. A big 'rock stone'. And the look on his face said, "If yu ever wet me up, you better know which God yu serve ... 'cause I am going to fling this rock stone into your back windscreen."

I'm sure this self-defence measure was as a result of some driver's insensitivity. His rage was that of a man who had been splashed one too many times in the past. And now he was ready to protect himself.

I've been guilty of splashing someone once. And I didn't realise that I had until a friend that was driving behind me pointed it out.What was worse, the man I splashed and I were going to the same place. I felt so guilty and apologised profusely. I thought myself cautious when driving in rain before, but my level of awareness heightened after that incident.

This insensitivity brought out by the rain is one that so many have spoken about in passing. One that highlights the dissimilarities between two very different Jamaicas: one steeped in abject poverty and the other blinded by privilege. And how one set just does not see the other; not only when it rains, but all the time.

Have you ever stopped to consider how someone survives on the minimum wage? A single mother, perhaps of two children; earning $5,600 a week. Your helper, how does she make ends meet? Do the maths.

Fifty-six hundred dollars a week; $22,400 a month. From that, she must pay rent, light, water, eat, get to and from work, pay the children's bus fare to and from school and church, provide them three meals a day, buy uniforms and books, clothes and shoes. If anyone gets sick and needs medication, how is that financed? Not to mention 'luxuries' like the dentist or phone credit or furniture or Christmas gifts. This is a reality for many Jamaican mothers. Many.

Twenty-thousand, four hundred dollars is some families' weekly grocery bill.

Judgement and privilege

It's easy to sit from a place of privilege and judge 'those people'.

"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him."

I say we are also to be judged by how we treat those who can do little for themselves. There are people facing real financial struggles whom we encounter in our everyday lives, and it takes very little to make their days better.

How hard would it be to buy your security guard lunch one day? How much skin off your back would it take to buy a school bag for your office attendant's child as you do your own back-to-school shopping? I'm not saying absorb their financial responsibilities and 'mine' them, but I am saying we can do a better job at being our brother's keeper. We can do a better job at being kind.

I ask that we all take some time to see the invisible people. To see those who are silently struggling and pressing on nonetheless. I ask that we lend a hand where we can, and provide a little shelter from the rain.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.