Tue | Sep 21, 2021

Hello Mi Neighbour | Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Hello mi neighbour! Remember how things used to be nice and dandy when you just met Sandy? Oh Sandy, Sandy. There was nobody like Sandy. She used to be so sweet! But gone are the days. Nothing, remains the same, eenh? No. What do we do when people, places and things can no longer ‘fill our eyes’? Be careful how you treat those who are now ‘used-to-bes’. Throwing away the old for the new can be a colossal error. New broom sweeps clean but old broom knows the corners, as mother used to say. Got it?

Coupled with covetousness, our changing world often forces us to make changes that challenge our ability to cope and enjoy the simple things of life. Keeping up with the Joneses at the expense of our health and family life is the new reality facing many families. There goes a rationale for the level of frustration, bitterness and dishonesty affecting our society.

Years ago a friend wanted to replace her ‘good-looking’ settee with a very expensive one just like her rich neighbour’s. Driven by covetousness and desperation, early one morning she was at the furniture store to purchase this top-of-the-line settee on hire purchase. Making it even more exciting was the ‘$0-downpayment’ offer. At least she ‘should be able to pinch and carve here and there’ to pay the monthly instalments.

On her mind was the certainty that this kind-hearted soul would stand surety for her transaction. What she was not privy to, however, was that I had settled it in my mind never to stand surety “fah even mi mumma”, since a bad experience with my former colleague 15 years before. Long and short, I had stood surety for this colleague and ended up repaying a loan that I could not afford for myself. Yes, I have offered forgiveness.

My friend’s new settee now sitting in the living room was the new ‘talk of the town’. But let’s see how things pan out. With the old settee becoming the cats’ bed on the back verandah, everything went well until money to send children to school regularly, place food on the table and pay utility bills was eaten up by the monthly instalments on the new acquisition.

You’ve guessed right: a few months later, the old settee which used to be the main attraction in the living room was now back in place. Yes, the expensive settee was repossessed. Now a little wiser and less covetous, my friend bought a beautiful piece of fabric, threw it over the old settee, which gave it the lift of its life to the admiration of friends and visitors.

Two takeaways from this true story: instead of pressuring yourself to upgrade like the Joneses, take another look at what you already have and try a facelift. This is applicable to almost everything in life. The other lesson here is to be careful how we treat our used-to-be friends, companions, etc. They say ‘used-to-bes’ don’t count, but be wise and do not count them out, they may be your only ‘salvation’ when you are down and out.


- Norma, New York, for donations.

- Nataya, New York, for donation.

- Delano, St Andrew, for donation.

- Miss Campbell, St Andrew, for offering to assist two neighbours who are desperately in need of housing solutions.

- Latoyer, St Andrew, for donation.

- Denise, St Andrew, for contribution.


- Miss Maitland, diabetic amputee, asking for a second-hand refrigerator to store medication.

- Sandra, renal patient, asking for a serger sewing machine and a second-hand refrigerator to store her medicine, etc.

- Neighbour, St Catherine, needs a sewing machine.

To help, please call Silton Townsend @ 334-8165, 884-3866, or deposit to acct # 351 044 276 NCB. Alternatively, send donations to HELLO NEIGHBOUR C/o 53 Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 10; Paypal/credit card: email: zicron22@yahoo.com. Contact email: helloneighbour@yahoo.com. Visit hellomineighbourja.blogspot.com. Mr Townsend exclusively manages the collections and distributions mentioned in this column and is neither an employee nor agent of The Gleaner.