Shanique Samuels, Gleaner Writer
"Phonecard! Phonecard!" No, it's not Specialist, it is 'Chucky', a double amputee hustling on the streets of May Pen.
This 54-year-old man gives his birth name as Ivan May, and he drives around the town in a powered wheelchair and sells small items such as car fresheners and Armor All (car polisher) along with the phonecards located in a box on the footrest of the wheelchair.
He said both legs were amputated four years ago - the left foot above the knee and the right just below.
"Me wake up one morning an me left foot swell up, an me go doctor an di doctor say di blood naa circulate," he said.
May said he got medication that had the blood circulating again, but after just one week, he was back in hospital. Shortly thereafter, the leg was amputated at the Spanish Town Hospital. The other, he said, stopped working within a week and it, too, had to be amputated, this time, at the May Pen Hospital.
"The doctor seh if mi nuh remove it, it a go hurt me, so me jus mek up me mind and remove it," he said, almost in tears.
May told Rural Xpress that he could no longer work at the Guinness Company in Spanish Town, where he used to stack crates. This misfortune, he said, was what forced him to start 'juggling'. The powered wheelchair he now uses was donated to him by the members of the Fernleigh Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church, which he attends regularly.
Interestingly, despite his extreme circumstances, May has always been one to give of whatever little he finds himself with. Rural Xpress spoke with a few of his peers (street peddlers) and was told that people often begged this man, who is confined to a wheelchair, for money. One man said, "Yes, man! A nuff people beg him money an him gi dem. Sometimes dem even truss (credit) from him an nuh pay him," the seemingly angry man uttered.
May said his wife died before his amputations, but he has a daughter who sometimes visits his home on Sevens Road to assist with laundry and cleaning, but he does the cooking.
When asked how he managed, he replied simply, "Mi manage bad," and hung his head. "Mi feel a way enuh, fi know seh me nuh have no foot fi walk," he added.
Chucky always seemed to be in high spirits, although he has tried many times to get prostheses, but with no success.
"Me nuh get through yet, but me still a gwaan humble. Me cyaa give up, an me naa give up cause me have life. Me jus a gwaan work."