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Stalking bull

Published:Thursday | October 8, 2015 | 12:00 AMTony Deyal, Contributor

When I was small, I was fascinated by cranes, trains, dump trucks and tractors. The first time I heard the term 'bulldozer', I had no idea what it meant, and since these were the days long before the Internet and there were no reference books in the school's meagre library, the image I had was of one of my uncle's large male ungulates of the subfamily Bovinae sound asleep in the small savannah the family owned on Roopsingh Road in Carapichaima, Trinidad.

Now, on the roads in Trinidad where madness, murder, mayhem, bedlam, anarchy and pandemonium abound simultaneously, I wish I had a bulldozer. Actually, I wish I had a 'Transformer'-type vehicle, like the ones in the comic strip and movies, which would swiftly change from a small, innocuous vehicle into a big, bad bulldozer and wipe whoever 'bad-drives' me right off the road. In fact, this is really where the word 'bulldoze' came from.

In the 1880s, the term 'bull-dose' in the US meant a large dose of any sort of medicine strong enough to quiet, tame or put to sleep a bull. Then it became associated with punishment as well. 'Bull-dosing' meant a bad beating or any other kind of intimidation, sometimes at gunpoint. A large-calibre pistol, something like a Magnum, and the person who wielded it were 'bull-dosers'.

Along the line, it came to mean the use of brute force to push over or through any obstacle. Then it was applied to the blades in the huge tractors that moved mountains or anything else in their paths, and now it means not just the blade, but the entire machine. It sounds weird to have them known as 'Caterpillars', but this is the most famous of bulldozer brands.

It is one such variation of the bulldozer that a Welshman used to destroy his own pub. Wealthy shellfish factory owner Mark Swistun and his friend, Colin McDonald, invested £60,000 into a pub called the Royal Oak in the Welsh fishing village of Penclawdd, Gower. They put in staff to run it while he and his buddies drank regularly in the pub.

One night recently, Swistun demanded a drink after the statutory closing time of 11 o'clock and was refused. He left and then returned at midnight with a huge 28-ton yellow digger and wrecked the place, causing an estimated at £40,000 of damage in just a few minutes. Tables, chairs, umbrellas, bricks, tiles and everything in sight went flying.

Switsun was arrested and then released without any charges being laid. The police said they could not charge him because he wrecked his own pub and nobody had complained about it.

Other people have used bulldozers as weapons of massive destruction. There is the story about the bulldozer operator who was so depressed, that before he went to work, he popped some Prozac, but took too much. In addition to flattening a dilapidated drive-in cinema, he also took out five houses that were next to it. His excuse? He overdozed.

However, Marvin John Heemeyer, a welder and owner of a muffler-repair shop in Grandby, Colorado, had no such excuse. He was so upset with the city officials over a zoning dispute that he took a Komatsu bulldozer and demolished the town hall, the former mayor's house, and other buildings.

The rampage ended when the bulldozer got stuck in the basement of a store he was in the process of destroying; Heemeyer then killed himself with a pistol.

Another bullheaded bulldozer owner, Barry Allan Sweegle, was so angry with his neighbours that he took a powerful Caterpillar D9 bulldozer and damaged four homes, knocking one off its foundation and cutting power to thousands of people.

I can understand without condoning the rage that overwhelms some people when they find themselves increasingly powerless in the tightening iron grip of officialdom and bureaucracy. It is easy to feel cornered and to want to hit back against the unrelenting pressure from the paper-pushers.

Alcohol-fuelled anger is something I have grown up with as well. I have seen really quiet men lash out in anger and grab stools or bottles as weapons in the rum shops. I have seen cars used as weapons, with half-drunk or very angry drivers wanting to kill someone.

In situations like this, it is human to fantasise about what you would do if you had a weapon at hand. In fact, there are many of us who go into the bank expecting a hold-up, contemplating what we would do if it occurred, or planning one.

In the case of the Trinidad traffic, I would review my initial desire for a 'Transformer' or even Tank, his brother Dozer from the Matrix and the hovercraft Nebuchadnezzar. I drive a small Hyundai Matrix around the city and what I would like, instead, is the only vehicle that might possibly intimidate Trinis who break red lights with impunity, pull across and stop suddenly in front of you, hit you and then argue or want to kill you.

It is an armed bulldozer, or what is called a 'tankdozer', that is a fully armoured D9 bristling with heavy artillery, grenade launchers and machine guns, and a massive blade that could go through anything. I would wait for or even seek out one of the huge container trucks that, with horns blowing, fly along the roadway regardless of who has the right of way and then.

- Tony Deyal was last seen saying that there is something called a 'calfdozer', which is supposedly a small bulldozer, but while there are manatees, there are no 'womanatees', 'boyatees' or 'girlattees'.