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This week’s winners:

  1. Beverly Bailey, Rillan Hill — EC$10 cellphone credit
  2. Suzette May, Campden Park – EC$50 dollars book voucher
  3. Sheva Boucher — EC$10 cellphone credit
  4. Samantha Burnett — EC$10 cellphone credit

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Money Say Cool Breeze (Episode 8: The Line)

By Marlon Bute

The 10:15 bell announced the break session, and almost machine-like, as if a switch were turned off, the workers stopped. And, filed out of the assembly area of the plant. Some headed for the washroom, while the smokers drifted off to the exit that gave way to the small verandah at the back of the building that had become the smoking area. Yet, some went to their cars and sat there eating their food; an apple, a pear or whatever snack they had, while listening to the radio. Most times, it would not be a local radio station, but a Sri Lankan, or Afghani station, depending on which country the worker has originally hailed from.

Ramnarine could never understand how they could take their whole break to smoke in the bitter cold. It was the same way he reasoned that he couldn’t figure out why the lockers where they were supposed to keep their food were situated in the washroom.

To make things worse, the washroom was not even clean. On some days, the stench was so bad that he didn’t even bother to eat. If he had a few shillings to spare, he would head upstairs to where the cafeteria was located and have some fish and chips and a bottle of water. The fish never tasted like fish from home. And the fries were soggy as if soaked in oil and he would’ve even bet his last dollar, judging from the taste, that the oil was reused multiple times. But, the change of atmosphere was worth it for Ramnarine. He liked sitting at the window and looking down beyond the parking lot and across the street to the well-manicured plot of land that was bare except for a few fruit trees. Beyond the well-kept lawn and the fruit trees was a row of buildings that had been just recently built and which housed a bank, dental office, pharmacy, and administrative offices. From where he was seated, he could see through the windows of the row of buildings and he would gaze at the ease of the well-dressed silhouettes that flittered through and fro. Though the buildings beyond the well-kept lawn and fruit trees were less than a hundred meters away, he reckoned that it was a world that was far from where he sat and from his own world of monotony. From his window, he would have betted that they didn’t have food lockers in their washrooms and that they didn’t have a bell to announce their break and lunch sessions.

Then his thoughts would drift to farming. And he would wonder whether he would ever farm again. These people have so much land here that they don’t even know what to do with them, he would think. They need a topnotch farmer like me to plant some corn, sweet peppers and tomatoes. He would sit there and would only be awakened from his reverie by the bell that signaled it was time to head back to the assembly line.

On this day, when a few persons had already been laid off, Peter, whom he liked to chat with, was in the washroom, standing over the greasy sink, brushing his teeth.

“How things, me boy?” he asked.

“I don’t know … I hear them going lay off more …” Ramnarine whispered.

“So what you worrying bout…?” Peter paused to examine his teeth,

“You going be fine man, come to think of it I might go before you, and I been here longer.”

Peter was from Guyana and he was known for taking everything in stride. It was rumoured that he was married to a white woman who took care of him and who had even bought him a brand new car. He worked because he liked staying active, but Ramanarine believed that Peter kept his job in case things fell apart.

It’s not that Peter had ever told him that was why he continued working, but it made a lot of sense to him. Where he came from, at least in his family, the man is always the provider; there was no two ways about it. Like other immigrants who worked in the factory, he had heard all kinds of stories, including those of Caribbean men, mostly blacks, who married white women for papers. He didn’t for one minute think that all of the marriages were like that. Never mind that you might see some slim looking black men, with white women who were so huge, that you had to step out of the supermarket aisle to let them pass.

The shrill sound of the final bell curtailed the chat and everyone filed back to the assembly line. Some mumbling under their breath that 25 minutes break was a waste of time.

The week passed by and Ramnarine was happy to see that Peter was right. Neither he nor Peter had been laid off.

Next episode on Sunday

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This week’s questions:

  1. At which intersection was Ramnarine’s job located?
  2. What was the name of Ramnarine’s and Seetha’s landlord and what did the landlord chew?
  3. In your own words, explain the issue with Seetha and work.
  4. Ramnarine peered throughout a window while having lunch. What was beyond the window through which Ramnnarine peered?
  5. Several nationalities worked at Ramnarine’s job. List three of these nationalities.

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