Surprise, Surprise!

Cassandra's Candid Corner
Stabroek News
May 20, 2001

A prominent member of our society told me this story which I'll now share with you. I'm selling it as I bought it - no profit. He had called the switchboard of one of our big utility firms to speak to the General Manager and apprise the big one about the Corporation's deficient service. After listening patiently and without comment, the GM politely transferred the call to the Vice President of Consumer Affairs. My friend re-told his story and the V.P. promptly transferred him to the Director of Customer Services who listened to the complaint with great courtesy, but then, further relayed the call to the Complaints Department. The latter, with great efficiency, transferred him back to the receptionist, where he had begun 15 minutes before.

Everyone is being surprised nowadays. CARICOM leaders were surprised by Colin Powell's decision not to meet with the region's foreign ministers next month. In addition to being surprised, they were "puzzled" and "perplexed". Well, listen you guys, don't go and get no cerebral hernia trying to figure out the snub. You are only little Caesars on your rocks in the small Caribbean sea. In the grand scheme of things, you are at best the mice that are allowed to roar on occasion.

And then Minister Jenny Westford got the surprise of her life when she arrived punctually for the 5-day seminar on Supervisory Management. Only three Supervisors/ Managers had arrived. Half an hour later, the gathering had swollen to five. Well, dear Minister, you should neither be angry nor "uneasy" (GC 15/05/01). Those very comrades might not know "punctuality", but they know "protest". Save your anger and uneasiness for the time when your house will be stoned and your family terrorized - like the experience Minister Fung-On had to endure last year.

More surprise was in store for Minister Bibi Shadick who it seems gave the wrong McKinnon daughter a donation. The family promptly returned the cheque - with pie in the face for the new Minister. Come on guys, couldn't you see that coming? Ten thousand dollars? Dem boys can spend dat money in one night in a rum shop in Kitty, or on VIP pizzas.

And then the classic non-surprise: "Waddell charged with sedition" (SN 16/05/01) followed by "Arrest warrant issued after procedural errors found". What a balls up?! Let's see if we get this right. Waddell is charged; then he is placed on a million dollars surety; and then he is arrested? Then some signed piece of paper is declared invalid because somebody ent know to do dey wuk properly. Then the bond document was not lodged at the Court. In fact, by the end of the day, Mr. Waddell, the landlord of Guyana, was on his own recognizance. Then came the greatest surprise of all: Waddell's lawyers argue that the offences for which he was arrested do not in fact exist in the Laws of Guyana. This prompted the Police Prosecutor to take cover by promising to seek advice from the DPP. What complete incompetence and legal farrago!

In all of this, I like the eenie, meenie, miney mo magistrate who made it clear that he ent know nutten 'bout nutten (SN 16-05-2001). Then came the legalese from the magistrate: the police ent really charge Waddell under any Criminal Offences Act .... but (here it comes) the charges speak for themselves. Since this doublespeak resulted in vexation, the merry magistrate just adjourned court. End of story? No way. While all this bungling going on, people accused a woman of having a gun. More mixupedness. But then Benschop, the beatific, arrives and steals the show. End of story? No way. A policeman decides he doesn't like Mark's tie and scramble hold of it. Police Inspector ent loosing dee tie and Mark ent mean to part with it, especially since it attach to he neck. Melody fo' days. Only in Guyana, folks, only in Guyana.

But you know, it is not really only in Guyana that madness abounds. Look at these headlines in a single day's newspaper (Barbados Advocate, 30-04-2001):
- Thirty-one killed in Kashmir.
- Riots in Philippines.
- No calm in Middle East - tension soars.
- Violence in Macedonia.
- Nun shot in neck.
- US going ahead with navy bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican
islands of Vieques.
- Arapaima fish crisis in Guyana.
- Ten killed in plane crash in Argentina.
- T&T teachers eyeing US schools.
- Mexican volcano on verge of erupting.
- Death toll rises to 40 in Algerian riots.
- 50,000 refugees to be moved in Guinea.
All, in one way or another, have to do with the actual or potential sufferation of man; most have to do with man's inhumanity to man. I think in the history of the planet earth, since the days of fixed societies, there has not been one second of total peace.

Finally, belatedly, let us add our welcome to Mr Lewis. He has singularly, after all, achieved the highest award of any Guyanese in a sports discipline. For so many reasons, I would have preferred if this unique accomplishment could have been in a "sport" other than boxing. This is the activity of modern day gladiators plying their trade - like bulls in an arena - for bloodthirsty spectators, a mass that will forget Mr Lewis the moment he loses.