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SATURDAY’S CHILD: Talking bull


TONY DEYAL

SATURDAY’S CHILD: Talking bull

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WHEN I WAS SMALL I was fascinated by cranes, trains, dump trucks and tractors. The first time I heard the term “bulldozer” I had no idea what it meant and since these were the days long before the Internet and there were no reference books in the school’s meagre library, the image I had was of one of my uncle’s large male ungulates of the subfamily Bovinae sound asleep in the small savannah the family owned on Roopsingh Road in Carapichaima, Trinidad.

Now, on the roads in Trinidad where madness, murder, mayhem, bedlam, anarchy and pandemonium abound simultaneously, I wish I had a bulldozer. Actually, I wish I had a “transformer” type vehicle, like the ones in the comic strip and movies, which would swiftly change from a small, innocuous vehicle into a big, bad bulldozer and wipe whoever “bad drives” me right off the road. In fact, this is really where the word “bulldoze” came from.

In the 1880s, the term “bull- WHEN I WAS SMALL I was fascinated by cranes, trains, dump trucks and tractors. The first time I heard the term “bulldozer” I had no idea what it meant and since these were the days long before the Internet and there were no reference books in the school’s meagre library, the image I had was of one of my uncle’s large male ungulates of the subfamily Bovinae sound asleep in the small savannah the family owned on Roopsingh Road in Carapichaima, Trinidad.

Now, on the roads in Trinidad where madness, murder, mayhem, bedlam, anarchy and pandemonium abound simultaneously, I wish I had a bulldozer. Actually, I wish I had a “transformer” type vehicle, like the ones in the comic strip and movies, which would swiftly change from a small, innocuous vehicle into a big, bad bulldozer and wipe whoever “bad drives” me right off the road. In fact, this is really where the word “bulldoze” came from.

In the 1880s, the term “bull-dose” in the United States meant a large dose of any sort of medicine strong enough to quiet, tame or put to sleep a bull. Then it became associated with punishment as well. “Bull-dosing” meant a bad beating or any other kind of intimidation, sometimes at gunpoint. A large calibre pistol, something like a Magnum and the person who wielded it were “bull-dosers.” Along the line it came to mean the use of brute force to push over or through any obstacle.

Then it was applied to the blades in the huge tractors that moved mountains or anything else in their paths, and now it means not just the blade but the entire machine. It sounds weird to have them known as “Caterpillars” but this is the most famous of bulldozer brands.

It is one such variation of the bulldozer that a Welshman used to destroy his own pub. Wealthy shellfish factory owner Mark Swistun and his friend Colin McDonald invested £60 000 (BDS$183 319) into a pub called the Royal Oak in the Welsh fishing village of Penclawdd, Gower.

They put in staff to run it while he and his buddies drank regularly in the pub. One night recently Swistun demanded a drink after the statutory closing time of 11pm and was refused. He left and then returned at midnight with a huge 28-ton yellow digger and wrecked the place, causing an estimated at £40,000 (BDS$122 213) of damage in just a few minutes.

Switsun was arrested and then released without any charges being laid. The police said they could not charge him because he wrecked his own pub and nobody had complained about it.

Other people have used bulldozers as weapons of massive destruction. There is the story about the bulldozer operator who was so depressed that before he went to work he popped some Prozac but took too much. In addition to flattening a dilapidated drive-in cinema he also took out five houses that were next to it. His excuse? He overdozed.

However, Marvin John Heemeyer, a welder and owner of a muffler-repair shop in Grandby, Colorado, had no such excuse. He was so upset with the city officials over a zoning dispute that he took a Komatsu bulldozer and demolished the town hall, the former mayor’s house, and other buildings. Eventually Heemeyer killed himself with a pistol.

Another bull-headed bulldozer owner Barry Allan Sweegle, was so angry with his neighbours that he took a powerful Caterpillar D9 bulldozer and damaged four homes, knocking one off its foundation and cutting power to thousands of people.

It is easy to feel cornered and to want to hit back against the unrelenting pressure from paper-pushers.

I have seen really quiet men lash out in anger and grab stools or bottles as weapons in the rum-shops. I have seen cars used as weapons, with half-drunk or very angry drivers wanting to kill someone.

In situations like this it is human to fantasise about what you would do if you had a weapon at hand.

In the case of the Trinidad traffic, I would review my initial desire for a “transformer” or even Tank, his brother Dozer from the “Matrix” and the hover-craft Nebuchadnezzar. I drive a small Hyundai Matrix around the city and what I would like instead is the only vehicle that might possibly intimidate Trinis who break red lights with impunity, pull across and stop suddenly in front of you, hit you and then argue or want to kill you.

It is an armed bulldozer or what is called a “tankdozer” that is a fully armoured D9 bristling with heavy artillery, grenade launchers and machines guns and a massive blade that could go through anything. I would wait for or even seek out one of the huge container trucks that with horns blowing fly along the roadway regardless of who has the right-of-way and then.

 

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