Walking along the St. James’ coast fairly late one evening, I happened upon Mr Vic. I had been walking for some while, mulling things over. Wanting to sit and rest my legs a bit, I turned in for a Banks Beer.
Mr Vic is in the Paynes Bay area of St. James and has special nights for Reggae and Jazz, but on this night I was alone. Well, Vic was there and I had a rather nice chat with him, but there were no other people and no real food available despite the sign referring to “Tonight’s Catch”. I was peckish and wouldn’t have minded some kind of fish thing with my beer. Never mind.
We chatted some more and I settled outside to drink my Banks.
O.K. So I had missed a couple of buses, and according to Vic I could probably get one in a few minutes, but they definitely stopped early on the route I wanted. That is, they stopped about eleven o’clock and it was just after ten. No problem.
I sat at one of the long tables outside and enjoyed my beer. Ahhhhh. Oh, well, must have another one.
Just one more as the bus had to be caught, or I would be forced to go on diversion which meant taking two buses and I only had change for one. I could buy stuff like beer on my card, but Bajan buses do not accept cards. Needless to say I did not mention my cash worry to Mr Vic, but proceeded to buy another beer.
In comes a chap, let’s call him Martin, from somewhere in the UK, Scotland or Manchester, or was it Liverpool? Anyway, he sits opposite me at the long wooden table and we begin to talk about England and Barbados. It appears he is thinking of settling here as he has a friend who has done so, and he visits often anyway, so why not settle? Martin buys some drinks, I opt for two more Banks Beer and before you know it we are old friends, smoking roll-ups, shooting the breeze, and……
OOOps! I really gotta go Martin, the bus! “Oh yeah, he says, I saw one pass a sec ago.” Great, I thought, now I’ll probably have to walk all the way from the West Coast to the South Coast. Taxis are reluctant to trust you to hop out their vehicle to use a cash-point (ATM) aren’t they? Or they should be.
So I scurry out onto the street and hurry to the nearby Bus Stop to await what would be the last bus. I see a guy standing next to the pole and I ask him if he had seen the one I missed. Was it for Bridgetown or going Oistins? He could not say, and as I explained my fare farce, no he could not help, but he could say that if I looked behind me, there was a petrol station stuck well off the main road where I could get to use a cash-point.
Grrrrreat! Just run there and back. One minute past eleven, the bus should be arriving in about five minutes, I could make it.
I run to the petrol station to find two people before me at the cash-point, a man doing his business and a lady right in front of me. O.K. Still could work. Then if it WAS my bus which had gone, I could take the diversionary course and go to Bridgetown, then on to Oistins…….
Sh** Why is he taking so long? How long does it take to withdraw a bit of money?!
Good he is finished. Only the lady in front of me now. Wait, what was that? What did he say? Something about he doesn’t think the machine is working? Oh, for f**s sake!
The lady in front of me tries, and yep, it is NOT WORKING.
Sh*** and double sh**.
“Ah, excuse me? Do you give cash-back?” I sort of shout at the man behind the petrol shop till. From the look on his face I reason he has never heard of it, or thinks I am not quite sane, or both. O.K. I dash out the door and run for the bus stop. A bus speeds by.
I reach the bus stop. I check my watch. It is nearly eleven twenty on a beautiful evening in Barbados.
I consider the couple of friends I have in the general area of my current location. Would I? Could I? More to the point, would they? It is a week-night and people have work tomorrow.
Oh Wow! A taxi is coming along! I flag it and it flashes past.
O.K. No problem. I shall walk. Walking is good. It will take me nearer in the direction of my friends’ dwellings, I think, and ……
A bus! A bus!!!!
I signal it and it stops. It is going my way. I get on and pay.
It is the last of the mini-vans known by many as reggae buses. I was fortunate. The driver lives way beyond where I need to go on the South Coast and is a little late on his final run. I am fortunate because he had made himself a catch that night and being in deep conversation with her on his phone had let things slip a little. Time flies when one is newly in love.
It had taken the irate few passengers at the terminus where he started at least five minutes to remind him of his duties. Then he had noticed something wrong with the gear shaft or something, and had had to fiddle with that!
Thank you stars!! Thank you that he’d got lucky. Thank you for his ‘Tonight’s Catch’.
Mr Vic had had none, and I ? I had been walking for miles mulling over the fate of having hooked a splendid fellow that same evening, being lifted to cloud nine as we sipped cocktails, only to be tossed into the sea of traffic on St. James as he remembered a prior appointment.
I settle back and enjoy my bus-ride home to the sound of scraping gears. Well, maybe he’ll call.