Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Almost locked up in Barbados Pt. 6
Seldom in my life have I been on Broad Street, the main thoroughfare in Bridgetown, at 8 a.m. I was surprised by the sparseness of population at that time of the day.
However, the people I met along the way were incredibly cordial. Many said, "Good morning, sir." One fruit vendor waved and shouted from the opposite side of the street, "Have a good day, boss."
Buoyed up a little by this spontaneous show of friendliness, a few minutes later I happened to glance at a mirrored door and saw a man in a dark blue suit wearing smart-looking sunglasses with a briefcase in one hand and a folded umbrella in the other, looking strikingly distinguished.
There is a nice looking man, I thought and then shockingly realised that I was seeing myself in the mirror. I looked important, like, in the local parlance, a 'Big Up', and the people I was passing on the street seemed to think so too. The temptation to indulge in a moment of narcissism was oh so strong but my growing nervousness about the task at hand kept my eyes grounded on the sidewalk in front of me.
When I arrived at District 'A' police station and inquired about the location of the traffic court, the Security Guard at the entrance gate, who was stopping everyone in front of me and seeking details of their reason for being there, simply waved me on by pointing to the direction of the court building.
The summons had ordered me to be at court at 9 a.m . It was not yet 8:30 and the doors of the court were still securely shut. Some people were sitting on the benches in the vicinity while others were going into and coming from the nearby Registrar's office.
Looking around me I noticed that almost no one was formally dressed and in the next half hour as I stood there, I began to realise that the only persons who were dressed in suits and ties were lawyers (I recognised a number of them), judges (arriving in expensive-looking cars) and I. Had the summons-deliverer, whose advice it was to dress up, played a practical joke on me? I was beginning to think so and immediately vowed that there would be no mangoes for him.
To relieve the monotony of waiting, I walked slowly back to the entrance of the station compound and stood about ten yards away from the security guard who was still stopping and interrogating those who sought entrance. Moments later a man, seemingly in his fifties, came up to me and inquired if the court was already open.
I said, "I don't think so."
Then he asked, "Is Pilgrim (a well-known defence lawyer) over there yet?"
I said, "I don't know."
He hesitated for a few seconds and then asked, "How busy are you going to be today?"
I replied, "I have no idea how long I'm going to be in court."
He looked a bit disappointed and asked, "You think you might have time to help me out?"
Confused by this question, I asked, "How can I help you out?"
He said, "Well, my lawyer is out of the island and I have to appear in court later this week. Could you help me?"
"I'm not a lawyer," I responded.
" You're not?" His mouth (not a small one) fell open at the thought. "Well, you look like a lawyer."
"Sorry, but I am not," I said with a smile but unsure whether I should have been flattered or embarrassed.
He turned away with a frustrated look which seemed to ask, " Well, what are you doing here dressed up like a lawyer and fooling people like me?" He left grumbling to himself and I was sure that I overheard the words " fraud" and "trickster" as the distance between him and me quickly got greater.