Wed | Oct 16, 2019

Anthony Gambrill | Jamaica land of opportunity

Published:Sunday | July 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Now that exams and tests, or whatever they're called nowadays, are over, it's time for our young men and women to start thinking of how they are going to make a living, aka have a career. Given that government statistics tell us that 60 per cent of school graduates are functionally illiterate, it's going to be tough. However, bus conductors, taxi drivers, pole dancers, barmaids, weed whackers, drain cleaners, consultants to politicians, etc, are occupations always open.

For those who are more ambitious, the best route to go is to be a self-employed entrepreneur. To get the ball rolling, I have imagined interviewing a handful of youngsters not enthralled by the prospect of entering the civil service or working in their father's business.

Currently, any job thriving on corruption apparently is attractive. That's why a politician's life appeals to John D. He has always wanted a fully loaded SUV and the prospect of selling it for a handsome profit. Then again, there are substantial travel perks if you have tourism responsibilities, and in any other ministry, the prospect of unlimited telephone calls await.

I asked John D. if he was hoping to lay his hands on any Cuban light bulbs, but he explained that that had been taken care of by a past PNP minister.


Too arduous


Joan W. thought that the route to becoming a successful politician was too arduous and time-consuming. Her preference is to become the member of a statutory board, if possible, the chairwoman. Along with the usual seven-figure salary, year-end bonus, living allowance, healthcare provisions, motor vehicle, and so forth, until recently, there had been the added perk of living abroad. Petrojam is on the top of her list.

Valerie T., a highly idealistic young Jamaican, is looking for a role in dispute resolution, saying it's a growth industry. She wants to introduce interventions into gang-ridden communities and foster a peace initiative. Valerie T. is a determined and well-meaning young Jamaican but is unaware that she'll have to increase her life insurance coverage substantially. Her preference is to work in Kingston, but she will have to get Guardsman to accompany her from Norbrook.

Although not particularly original, Vincent G. plans to make and market 'fun' T-shirts. The proposed catchphrases include SON OF A BEACH, JAMAICA NO PROBLEM, and VINI, VIDI, VISA (which would have on the back, I CAME, I SAW, I SPENT). Admittedly, he says it's a risky business, but he might go into 'expletive deleted' messages if and when Donald Trump, errant pastors, and rogue police officers make headlines. As President Trump often says, according to Vincent, "All options are on the table."

As a keen environmentalist, Dave J. wants to offer a service to save tyres and win over road users. With climate change responsible for the deterioration of our roads, Dave will undertake pothole-filling on demand. He intends to concentrate initially on the Corporate Area because country potholes are just too big to fill and need landscaping instead.


Expensive 'approvals'


Town planning is the speciality that Sally P. has her eye on. It seems that she feels that with so much money needing to be laundered by putting up multi-storey apartment blocks, it'll require plenty of expensive 'approvals'. I got over thinking long ago that money laundering meant washing and ironing Manleys," says Sally. "Town planning is potentially much more profitable because money talks."

Mike P. has been looking around for an entrepreneurial opportunity, and up to now, the best he can come up with is an imitation motorcyclist's helmet. Figuring out that most motorcyclists can't afford a legally required metal helmet, he has come up with a cheap version made of compressed scandal bags. "From a distance, you can't tell the difference, and it will cost a tenth of the price," says Mike.

Robert J. had considered a career in pop music but decided that the field was far too crowded, with criminal cases being dropped every day. The newest thing he could come up with was ganja. Well, no, he doesn't intend to grow ganja, but he points to a host of other ganja-related business opportunities.

With Mr Bartlett's tireless boasts about the growth of tourism, he is putting together a tour of ganja-growing farms (legal and illegal), processing and packaging factories and weed-smoking sessions with sons of the soil in Twelve Miles. He also has authentic Chinese-made chillum pipes available for sale and hopes to create a line of autographed spliffs if he can get the Marley Foundation to agree to terms. As Robert J. puts it, with ganja, you have nowhere to go but up ... in smoke.

Okay, so the above is fake news, but I do know of one high-school student who successfully launched a pop-up ice cream enterprise during his summer holidays in Kingston. What was his innovation? Simply making supremely delicious ice cream from natural Jamaican ingredients (no preservatives) and delivering your order to your home. And he made a profit!

- Anthony Gambrill is a playwright and historian. Email feedback to