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Shaken, not stirred
My name is Bhisham Maharaj and I carry the duty-free liquor to planes at the airport.
I’m from Manzanilla. Live the same place all my life. I just turned 49 and I’m working with the (same family) since age nine.
My father used to work there with them so I used to go help him cut lawn. Is [the same] one family who owned the duty-free store.
I went Sangre Chiquito Presbyterian School, Five Rivers Junior Sec, then Northeastern College. But I suffered real bad with asthma so, most of the time, I was out of school.
I never finish the exams because, whenever I start to study, I had to come out the class, because I start to panic.
If I had a little more education, I might have been a lot better off. But common sense does reach plenty way!
If I take on any stress, I get the asthma. I don’t have it so strong again because I get to know what cause it: you have to relax; anytime you take on anything, so it come on.
As an asthmatic, you can’t study the asthma, you have to do the work. The money, the amount of things you have to do, to make ends meet. I couldn’t study the sickness. Dry season, the amount of dust, when you finish cutting lawn, your skin white with dust! But you have to go at it.
After 27 years, me and my wife break up. Work hard, Sunday to Sunday, build my house everything, I had to leave it. The woman just feel she get young since she marry (off) the daughter and she pick up this young guy I didn’t know anything about, because I work my life out, just working to make them happy. And I just leave everything, get out of the place, and gone back by my parents. Build up a little place and I living there. Is hurt me to know but that’s life.
I believe in God. That is what have me alive. Else I’d be six feet under! It not easy. You know how many times I’s be driving up that [Manzanilla] stretch and just forget everything? Just go blank? That’s why I telling you I believe in God.
My daughter is 26, married and in Toronto. As she get citizenship, my wife leave me next day. My daughter tell me, “Daddy, don’t study nothing. I with you.” She always wanted a house in Toco so that’s where we heading to.
You get more outside but the Trini food is really the best.
I never look for my wife, never take it on. Else I’d be down! But I have real people, good people behind me, who helping me with this, day-by-day. Is going two years now and like I can’t get over it. I’s come to work and nobody don’t know what I going through. I try to be happy and laugh. Help out the passenger and them.
We don’t have no boss over we. You have something to do, you do it. When alcohol come, you have to receive it and bring it in. You have to make sure the people who buy they alcohol collect it before they board. But they cut alcohol sale off an hour before the flight, so you have plenty time to reach upstairs. We’s try to be on time.
The most I ever carried up for one flight was over 60 parcels. That is Carnival time, people buying Hennessey White. You don’t get it in the States and, if they do get it, is US$100, they say. So that is the most fastest selling thing in any store in the duty free.
The best part about my job is that it have no boss over we. When you have a boss over your head, the work’s be stressful. If the boss come and he need something to do, he just say, “I want this do” and we do it. So the work easy.
A Trini is somebody who like minding other people business. Ask them anything about people and they know—but they don’t know about they own self!
Trinidad & Tobago is a paradise, really, still. My daughter living in Canada, she have everything. But, when she resign, she say she have to come back to Trinidad.
Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com
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