Tony Hendriks - JAMAICAN PALEFACE
I'LL NEVER forget the beauty contestant who was once asked how she would sell Jamaica. After a short pause, she answered in her best speakie-spokie tone, 'Well, I really wouldn't want to sell Jamaica because then I wouldn't have anywhere to live.'
Another incident that has stuck in my mind over the years was upon landing in Kingston, and taxiing to a halt in front of the terminal building, the flight attendant announced that we should all go straight home and not dilly-dally, as there was some civic unrest downtown. Her choice of words conjured an image of members of local government, mayors, councillors, ombudsmen and the like, all demonstrating in their ceremonial robes, outside Gordon House.
MANAGING UNDER PRESSURE
Seriously though, when the going gets tough, how do sales reps, the ones who work for the big hotels, paid to convince travel agents around the world to send visitors to Jamaica, how do they manage when there is civil unrest?
Travel agent: I just turned on the news and there are people rioting in the streets in Jamaica and outside the airport!
Sales rep: Rioting? No man, that's not a riot. Those people are just celebrating. It's um- it's a festival, that's it.
Travel agent: A Festival?
Sales agent: Yeah, it's the um, the Festival of Crabs. You must've heard of it. It happens every year, to coincide with the Budget Speech and the raising of gas prices.
Travel agent: But the people are blocking roads.
Sales agent: That's to stop the crabs getting away.
Travel agent: They must be big crabs.
Sales agent: Huge. Tasty too. Why you don't send a few of your clients down to experience the flavour.
Travel agent: CNN is showing people burning tyres.
Sales agent: Well, how else do you cook crab? Tyres give off a special heat that gives the crabs that, well, that crab taste.
Travel agent: Okay, Crab Fest, whatever, but my clients complain that there are power cuts every day.
Sales agent: Power cuts? Oh, you mean our Spontaneous Intimate Quality Time Breaks or SIQTB as we call them. We turn off the lights to encourage romance, like in the tunnel of love. I think you'll find even New York is doing them now.
Sometimes you have to get creative with the truth. Luckily, Jamaica is a magic word. Start a conversation anywhere in the world using the word and watch heads turn; conversations pause and the ball of interest falls pregnant into your court.
WHAT IS JAMAICA?
Jamaica is protection. Need to stop a mugger in mid mug? Mumble, 'Hey boy, a Jamaica me come from you know!' Add a quiver on your lip, a growl through your teeth and watch your assailant scurry off into the night. Mind you, it could also be the deciding factor of whether or not he shoots you but it's worth taking the chance, at least you'll die a patriot.
Jamaica is motor insurance. When in foreign, slap a Jamaica bumper sticker on your back windscreen, hang furry dice in black, green and gold from your rear view mirror and shaking road-raged fists will turn miraculously into friendly waves and traffic wardens will think twice before writing a ticket. Of course, all the Jamaicans will honk in brotherhood, cuss in vernacular and expect you not to report anything to the police that you might see them do.
Jamaica is people. Jamaica's greatest product and export is people. We are also Jamaica's greatest resource. Our people keep visitors returning to our shores. Our people sell Jamaica. Jamaicans have people power. Use it well.
Tony Hendriks is a comedian. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find out where he is playing live at www.jamaicanpaleface.com