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BC’S B’DOS – What police can do

B.C. Pires

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ONE RAINY SUNDAY night, I picked up a friend at Grantley Adams Airport. In what Derek Walcott might call driving rain, all the way from Top Rock Roundabout, I saw only one other car.
It was near 10 p.m. when, at the Tom Adams Roundabout, I saw my friend, the only figure waiting in front of Arrivals. He did not know only buses and taxis are permitted to use the inner lane and that, as he was being picked up by an “ordinary” car, he was under a duty to cross that first road and wait on the island between the two lanes.
As I swung under the airport roof, from the Caribbean Airlines check-in to the food court, the only person I could see was a female airport police officer opposite me. I looked directly at her and our two eyes made four, as they say in Trinidad; and then I made the crucial mistake of looking away from her and directly at my friend, standing all alone next to his suitcase 300 metres away, on the pavement on the “wrong” side of the road.
The policewoman’s eyes followed mine and, in a flash, like a star defensive linebacker scrutinising the quarterback’s eyes, she read the play.
She started running before I could put my foot on the gas but I had 2 000 cc of engine and she only had two feet. Before she could reach the car park ticket booth, I pulled into the inner lane like Jason Statham in Transporter 3, pulled the trunk lever, hopped out, began tugging my friend’s suitcase from his hands; over his bewildered shoulder, I could see the policewoman running towards us at speed.
My friend, sensing something afoot, but wrong-footed himself, wasn’t letting go of the suitcase. The policewoman was past the car park ticket booth and accelerating.
“Get in the car quick!” I said. The policewoman was sprinting the last 30 metres like she had Usain Bolt stepping on her heels. I plonked the suitcase in the trunk just as she reached us.
Panting, sweating, she spluttered: “You cannot pick he up here!”
There we stood: my friend, arms akimbo, jaw hanging; me with my hand on the trunk lid; the policewoman bent over, hands on knees, blowing hard from the effort of preventing wrongdoing – but never taking her eyes off me.
“Oh, come on,” I said, “it’s ten o’ clock. Sunday night. It’s raining. There’s no one here except us.”
She drew herself erect. “You cannot,” she repeated, “pick he up here. He got to go over there.”
In Trinidad, in New York, I might have slammed the trunk shut, stupsed, and driven off. In Barbados, I took the bag out, put it on the ground, drove into the rain, alone, made the lap around the roundabout, past Pug’s, past the gas station and back to pick my friend up five metres away from where we had all been standing, where the policewoman still stood her ground.
We drove off. The silence was broken only by the patter of raindrops on the roof until my friend turned to me.
“What just happened there,” he said, “illustrates everything that is good and everything that is bad about Barbados.”
• BC Pires is avoiding all cliffs.