Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Monday, September 22, 2008

Murphy's Law.

From whenever and whereever the notion "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" came, it's now known as Murphy' Law or Sod's Law. Anyone brought up in England will be on the blower already telling me that my family-oriented blog cannot have words like "sod" in it because that's an offensive word. Well, if you think that then, I so doff my hat to you.

It's been quite a weekend and there is enough of it to go around for quite a few blog posts. So, just a few of the unlucky to be Irish events from this weekend.

Lightning struck dead my Internet connection on Saturday afternoon, while my daughter and some of her class mates were being washed by nature at Ocean Park at a birthday party. Water was the theme and we had the theme everywhere.

Our friend, who decided to divert his trip to Guyana to spend the weekend with us, went with me to this same kids party. "Go and look at the sting rays being fed", I told him. My little daughter dropped a plastic cup in the ray pool and my friend trying to rescue the rays from environmental catastrophe, had to saved as he toppled head first towards the sting rays. We grabbed his legs and saved the story for another time.

Barbados is not like the US where there's a good chance of getting many things fixed during any day. Saturday afternoon through Sunday are quarantined from work. My business depends on having a constant, reliable Internet connection. My business needs to be up again by Sunday afternoon. Cripes! Cable and Wireless (C&W) please help me: "Sorry, mate. Bring in the modem on Monday morning." To get that was the result of several calls to friends at C&W, all of whom were sweet and helpful but could not move the immovable. Again C&W take the biscuit, as I went through another hour long wait for anyone to answer the call to the help line; I'm still on hold. I may search out that call centre and just launch myself on all the operators and give them a real working over.

My most helpful unhelp was in PriceSmart, on Sunday, when I tried to find a replacement adaptor and a Universal Power Supply (UPS)--nothing like letting the horse bolt and then close the stable door. First, the youth asked me how many UPS-es I needed. One, I said. He proudly pointed me to packs of four USB cables. Grief! He then added, "If the stores upstairs were open, you could get one there...But they're closed, till Monday." I can understand why people go on the rampage in stores and shopping malls.

Add to that, the pizza that had been ordered for my daughter's party was not ready. Trouble was they had the wrong toppings. The order says "Hawaiian" so why are you giving me pepperoni? "Would you mind waiting a bit?", I was asked. What can you do when 40 kids and maybe a similar number of adults are ready to be pizzed off because you come back with empty boxes without the thin crust muncheroo? I should have gone back to my house and taken a poll. Fortunately, we had other food preparing. I did not even bother to mention to my wife how on the drive back a big blue Transport Board bus overshot the entry to the roundabout and sent me and another driver scurrying our cars for safety on the central island. The pizza must get through!

This was all well and good but my business need was still unfixed. A neighbour offered to help me out by offering access to her computer and Internet connection. All I can say is that, though we had tested earlier in the day that everything was working as it should, when I came to need it, the computer froze, with that wonderful spinning hourglass taunting me saying "Nah, nah, nah!". I wanted to get my New York trash talk face on and say "No ya didn't?" Murphy, I give it to you, boy. I just said to myself, don't try to fight fate.

My poor friend visiting had to return so I arranged to drive him to the airport and that offered me the solution to my Internet problem. One of our friends at the party lives on the road we needed to take and offered that I just pass by their house. Great! They gave me the garage opener and the security code to enter. Voila! I did what I needed to do to get my business affairs straight for the new week, then left. But, wait. They gave me the garage opener because the front doors were bolted. How were they going to get into their house? I looked at my visitor and we hoped that my friends had known what they were doing.

So, off to deal again with the thrills of regional travel. Our drive to the airport was stalled as we met an horrific head on crash on the highway by the airport--on that piece of dead straight road. My friend had just asked me a question about traffic accidents in Barbados. I hoped he had no more questions. Ever aware of the perils of travel, I told him I would wait while he checked in. Lo! His flight was postponed, so back from the airport we came at 7pm so that we could cool out at my house and then go back for his rescheduled flight at 10.30pm.

But all of that late night nonsense solved my Internet problem. Barbados has no 24-hour Internet cafes that I know of, and on a Sunday, it seemed that they too had closed midafternoon. The airport's departure lounge has a free wireless network and my computer picked up a good signal, as I waited for my friend to complete his immigration and security checks, and I ensured that he was not going to be an overnight guest.

So, on the lazy drive home, I decided to just drive along the south coast road rather than deal with the Wildey mess. I had fears of meeting a hole in the highway. Then I had a crazy thought, and as I neared the hotels; I thought of a plan. Why I thought that the Savannah hotel would be better equipped than the Accra I can never really explain. But my hunch was right. The hotel has a business centre and sells unlimited/24 hours access for a small price. I was tired and needed to just cool out anyway, so took a relaxed hour and really took stock of stock market, financial meltdown and whatever catastrophe was facing the world this coming week. The people at the Savannah are gems.

In all of that, though, God had his plan, and the day was graced with brilliant sunshine and the storms and flooding of the day before were a distant memory. Murphy did not visit my daughter's birthday party and it was a super success.

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