"Chicken Merry, Hawk deh near!" This is a very old Jamaican proverb that really translates to mean: Just when you think you are really O.K. and everything is cool, look out for something to happen to you! A bit pessimistic, no doubt, but even though I am an optimist this has happened to me twice... "this".. meaning like "Chicken Little in the children's story teaching about courage, who thought when an acorn fell on its head that the sky had fallen down. Well once in 1999 feeling quite happy and contented that everything at last was going great…. two days later I started to feel unwell and was told by the doctor I had walking pneumonia. Now the following story is certainly not as serious as that, but drive with me, please be my passenger, for the second "acorn" falling on my head.
It is January 24, 2012. I have just dropped a grandson at a spot on the Western Main Road for him to proceed to school and being in a hurry and realising that I had forgotten something at home, I decided to go back home to the Glencoe area. So I went on my usual route — if I have to turn back to go home — and blessing the Mucurapo "extension" — if I may call it that — which was started in 2009 and completed in late 2010, I proceeded to do my usual route. I passed the sign — in blue — reading for Mucurapo Road Keep Left, passed under the bridge, saw another blue sign reading Mucurapo road with arrows pointing, but I then gradually filtered to the right because I was going to turn right to get on to the Audrey Jeffers Foreshore road and there I am in the right lane to turn.
There were three cars ahead of me and I saw at least two behind me. I also noticed that there were — I think — three motorcycle police WOMEN (and this is important because it proves once more that we women in authoritative uniforms can be VERY aggressive to other women). Well, one lady policewoman had obviously just arrived because she seemed to be just "parking" her bike and seemed to do a small "wheelie" meaning her motor cycle was somehow standing on its back wheel. I said to myself... "Very show offish, what's going on?" But then I reassured myself I have no cell phone in my hand, my seat belt is on, I have my license and my insurance with me so all's well. Oh yes? "Chicken Merry, Hawk deh near"
The "Hawk" lady (I take back that word), woman police officer strode to my window and knocked sharply at my window. Of course, I rolled it down immediately and said: "Yes officer, Good Morning". In a MOST aggressive tone she said, "Why yuh make an illegal turn?" "Illegal turn? I'm not sure what you mean officer?" She replied "Yuh don't see the sign? All a yuh people don't read sign? Give me your license and insurance."
I produced it immediately but because, I presume she was so busy, she only took my license and moved on. A young gentleman policeman then approached. Part from his again initial aggressive, "Why yuh make an illegal turn?" (Are they taught that the first approach to the public must be aggressive? Because if they have been trained that way then it is WRONG and inappropriate training. Their first question must be based on a SITUATIONAL problem), he then became polite.
I explained that I did NOT see any sign and that I have turned there many times before. He again asked for my papers. After telling him that the other officer had one of them, he left and came back, I then produced the insurance and he started to write. I considered very seriously asking him to give me a "bligh" (hoping he would not say only B-mobile gives "blighs" and I have Digicel), but realised that I might be accused of trying to influence an officer. But I did tell him that in my almost 33 years in T&T I have NEVER got a ticket before.
When he told me the cost of my "mistake" as he wrote out the ticket, I nearly fell out of the car. $1,000! I did ask if the Magistrates' Court took cheques. He found this very funny. I then asked about a certified cheque. Again, he laughed heartily. To me it is not funny. The sign apparently reads no right turn between 6.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. My ticket is marked 8.20 a.m.
The next day I drove the same route and saw the sign ABREAST OF THE RIGHT LANE FOR TURNING. So follow me readers, if you see the sign at all YOU ARE ALREADY IN THE RIGHT LANE TO TURN. What must you do? Put out your indicator and go left, which can cause an accident?
When was this sign put up? It could NOT have been there from 2010. There was an almost tragedy when a couple had a horrible accident at this very spot in, I think, July of 2011. Has this sign been there since then? Was it announced in the daily papers? I hope the Police do no think that anybody really reads the Gazette. I understand they do not have e-mail and to get a copy of the Gazette you have to go to the Government Printers. Are you kidding? Where do you park?
The sign is obviously in the wrong place; surely these signs should be at least 20 or so feet BEFORE you are going to turn. You need to be alerted. Putting the sign ABREAST of the turning will not do.
Why are you motorcycle cops whether male or female, not on the deadly highways — and normal roads — giving tickets to those who tailgate the car in front of them because in the fast lane if you are the driver and keeping to the speed limit they want to pass you? Where are you motor cycle cops when on roads and highways, there are those driving on the shoulders of the road, where are you when drivers do not understand lane changing and the use of the indicator but only weave from lane to lane, where are you when drivers cut in front of you dangerously, when drivers are clipping along at INSANE speeds?
I wish to know if those women police officers on January 24 were new and were just "cutting their teeth" because between all two or three of them must have collected over $10,000 in fifteen minutes. Were they told: "Go forth and multiply the revenue of the police, stay in one spot and trap middle-aged ladies at this spot? Easy pickings. No exertion, just do your "wheelies". Bring in the cash!"
The training of the police on the roads about manners and courtesy to the public (who pay their salaries), is unprofessional.
And no! I do NOT blame the Commissioner of Police.