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Friday 20 October 2017
Commentary

Thank you, Mr Roberts

San Juan Laventille Regional Corporation chairman Anthony Roberts

Thanks. This word commonly means to express gratitude–appreciation–to someone, an institution, etc, for something good done for or to you.

I first thought there was really no need to illustrate the dictionary meaning of a word so common. But on second thought, driven by the increasing complaints about bad manners in this society, I felt it better to throw out a reminder that “manners still maketh man,” and that saying “thanks” for kindness – big or small – is a special way of keeping ourselves civilised, even mutually respected. (I will come to who Mr Roberts is in a short while.)

Expressing “thanks” one way or another is a core value in every society. Of course, there are other civilising values such as “respect” and “helpfulness” that, when properly practised, help to make the burdens of daily life easier to bear. No doubt that is what all these “thank you” cards in our stores signal. In fact, there is a Thanksgiving Day national holiday in the US (fourth Thursday in November) and Canada (second Monday in October).

Our irony is that we celebrate so many religious holidays, only to find ourselves remaining at square one when it comes to everyday manners. Only last Wednesday, a public servant complained how for the third time she said “good morning” to the clerk sitting next to her, but the clerk merely stared back at her. Even a hand signal would have been good, she said.

Some months ago, a Maraval friend, Mr X, explained how a man living just a few houses from him, passes in front of his house every morning, just stares back or keeps looking straight ahead every time when he (Mr X) says “good morning.” And don’t talk about public officers not replying to citizens’ letters and inquiries.

Maybe a lot of people and institutions are suffering from response paralysis. I have a few examples too, but another time. Of course, nothing can be perfect, but certainly, it seems that we can, we should try a little harder. Things are already bad as they are.

Okay, some people may well say all I have said above is simple stuff. No big ‘ting. And maybe, that is true. Why spend time and space saying what we all already know? But then why are there so many complaints around us about discourtesy, disrespect and thanklessness at all levels? My newspaper files on consumer hardships have become so fattened.

And now, for Mr Roberts. For several months now, just where Hilltop Drive meets East West Drive (a T-junction) in Champ Fleurs, there are about ten pot holes on Hilltop Drive. Five have grown to oversize with the rain, etc. The younger ones were also heading that way. Traffic heavily flowing down south from Hilltop Drive – dangerously bobbing and swerving around this litter of pot holes, with traffic from East West Drive doing the same thing to enter Hilltop Drive.

Worse yet, there is a resident hibiscus fence so tall at this corner, it blinds drivers. To escape head-on crashes or side-door scrapes, drivers are forced to sink into these gaping pot holes. And it looks as if the authorities do not know about this long-standing danger. So I sat down and wrote a letter on August 17 to Mr Anthony Roberts, chairman, San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation, chief executive officer Mr Kofi Chapman, and the councillor for the area. I wrote a “seeking help” letter “on behalf of the residents and myself.” I said: “These pot holes not only cause damage to vehicles, but continue to pose traffic dangers,” etc. Fellow citizens, within two weeks all the pot holes were neatly fixed – so far. Great ease for residents and all other drivers.

Yes, this may appear a “lil ting,” it’s the “corporation’s job” etc, but in these times, it makes a big statement about how we should all really live. This is how ground-level democracy should work. I know there are other problems facing this corporation. But as a start, little things mean a lot.

Good manners still maketh man, starting from homes and schools. So I say thank you, Mr Roberts, your CEO Mr Chapman and the local councillor.

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