Tue | Oct 17, 2017

Kelly's World: We love freeness too much!

Published:Monday | July 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM

If you want to see Jamaican people run fast (other than on an athletics track) you just need two things - disaster, or if freeness a gi weh.

Of course with the disaster, they may be running in the wrong direction and for the wrong reasons. If a truck breaks down with food, drinks, lumber or anything people love to use but probably don't buy in excess because they're expensive, Jamaicans will run to it.

Nobody cares about the driver or sideman. Dem alright! It's all about getting (or better said, tiefing) as much stuff as you can find before the police arrive. In a hurricane, people run like crazy too. Except they're usually heading to the nearest shop where they can relieve the shelves of food items, or to the nearest store where they can gather up some new appliances. "Yuh see mi fridge! A Gilbert gimme."

But trust me, Jamaicans are just as bad when it comes to freeness. Any expo, fair or fun day being held, the longest line is always the one where the organisers and sponsors are giving things away. Trust me pon dat! I've seen people even come right out and ask if there aren't any giveaways. How people stay so? Di people dem probably spent millions of dollars, depending on the size and nature of the expo, just to put up their booth. And you expect dem fi gi wey more tings? It doesn't matter if people are selling stuff at 80 per cent discount. Somebody, somewhere, is looking for freeness.

But the troubling thing is that the freeness mentality is not a latter-day thing. Oh no, not even close. I was searching through The Gleaner archives for a particular project, when I came across an interesting story. Waaay back in 1891. Jamaica had hosted The Great Exhibition, essentially a chance for local businesses to showcase their products to locals and potential international investors.

 

BIGGEST ATTENDANCE

 

The exhibition ran from January 27 to May 2, and while by all reports it had a steady stream of people daily, the biggest attendance was recorded on April 24. Why? According to The Gleaner, it was a free day. More than 29,000 people showed up on that day alone! So a looong time we love freeness, and more erudite people could probably find better, and earlier, examples.

And the phenomena is not stopping. In fact, it's getting worse. Why do you think constituency meetings always have so many people, but the voting numbers don't correlate? Politicians will always get people to turn out if there is the promise of strong drink and a little 'smalls', even on election day - depending on what they're offering.

My biggest peeve against running after freebies, though, is that we will take things we don't use. Like somebody who is lactose-intolerant taking packets of milk. Or how about people taking things they don't need. They have a million caps already which they aren't wearing, so naturally they take one more. Sigh.

Maybe one day, we'll let go of the freeness fetish. But somehow I'm not betting on it. Lata!

• Link me at daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com