Excerpt: A Soh Dem Gwaan!

Mix Up and Blenda Series: Flight 474

After overnight showers, the sun sets high on a bright and clear Saturday morning. All around the bustling Norman Manley International Airport, travelers were on their way to destinations miles away from Jamaica. With their faces brimmed with happiness and grins as wide as a super-highway, many passengers began forming a long line in front of the ticket counters of Jamrock Airlines.

First-time travelers, Russell and Loretta Fields, lug their heavy baggage along as the next available customer service agent gestures for them to proceed to her counter. She promptly greets them with a charming and attractive smile.

Michelle: Good morning to both of you. Are you folks headed to Miami or Philadelphia?

Russell: Good morning to yuh sweetniss. Mi an mi wife, Loretta, heading to Philly, mam.

Michelle: Great! Now, I just have a few questions for you. First, did you pack these bags yourself?

Russell: A mi wife pack di bag dem, miss. An shi pack dem good to wid all sorta sweet-smelling carbolic soap an kuss-kuss perfume shi buy fi har sista dem a farrin. Shi all pack wi good enamel chimney to.

Michelle: (Smiles) Very good. Are you travelling with any restricted items?

Russell: No mam, nat a ting restrictive. Unless unu ago galang bad ova mi ganzi weh fulla guinep stain an mi two holy-holy brief inna di grip.

Loretta:  (Punches his shoulder) Have mercy Russell! Is wah mek yuh haffi a broadcast to di worl seh yuh noh gat noh good drawz a goh a farrin wid?! Yuh muss have more shame dan dat man. Cho!

Russell: Den Loretta, suppose dem sawch up di bag an fine out seh mi drawz dem tear up an fling wi affa di plane fi a carry sinting weh dem restrick? Noh dat time wi woulda shame? (Kiss teet)

Michelle: (Wags her finger) OK folks! Let’s not get too bogged down into the indecency of one’s underwear. The airline does not have policies against such offenses. Did you leave your bags unattended at any point in time, sir?

Russell: Yes mam, mi did lef dem out pan di varandah a di house before mi lef out. Mi had was to goh use di tielit pan a rapid. Mi noh know is what Loretta put inna di oxtail di night before. Mi seh mi belly battam cut mi up like RAZOR!

Loretta:  (Pinches his arm) Lawd Gad Russell, how yuh chat soh much?! Pay attenshan to what di lady asking yuh an tap carry yuh bizness a road soh! Shi want to know if yuh did lef dem a di airport dat anybady coulda fingle dem up.

Russell: Oh! A dat she mean? (Faces the Agent)  No mam, mi did have dem inna mi yeye sight fram dem come yah.

Michelle: OK, that’s good. Can I see the passports, please?

Russell: Yes…yes…wi jus get dem jus di odda day. Loretta, gi di lady di passport dem mek shi si how dem criss like criss biscuit.

Loretta: (Handing over the passport) Here dem is, miss. Yuh want wi birt certificate to? An wi mek sure carry wi bank book wid wi, jus in case.

Michelle: No thank you. Just the passport will do.

The airline employee glances through the pages of the passports and finds them to be in compliance. While entering information in the computer, she probes Russell about the photograph in his passport.

Michelle: Mister Fields, I see that your photo shows a gold tooth that you don’t have anymore. How old is this photograph?

Russell: A pictra weh mi tek laas year, mam. Mi tek out di gole teet caah mi bredda dem a farrin tell mi seh dem have blue teet up deh. Mi neva waan look outta fashion a wear gole teet. Soh mi decide seh when mi reach a farrin, mi wi put in wan blue teet.

Michelle: (Trying to stifle her laugh) Mister Fields, I think you are talking about Bluetooth, sir. That is a device for cell phones and has nothing to do with teeth for your mouth.

Loretta: (Pokes his side) Mi neva did tell yuh seh a dat yuh bredda did a chat bout, Russell. Mi noh know weh yuh goh pull di teet fah an now look how yuh fayva dem blastid pirate of di Caribbean!

Russell: Hush up yuh mout! A yuh sed wan did a kin pupalick an yuh glad bag buss when mi tell yuh seh mi ago install wan blue teet inna mi mout caah yuh did tink mi did ago look stylish wid it. (Kiss teet) Anyway, Miss Michelle yuh dun wid mi now, mam?

Michelle: Yes sir. All done. (Hands him documents) This is your boarding pass. You and your wife will be boarding at Gate number 3B, straight down and to your left. Have a safe flight.

Russell: Tank yuh nice lady. Ah-rite Loretta, lead di way. Farrin here we come!

One by one, more passengers are processed for Flight 474 departing from Kingston to Miami, connecting to Philadelphia. As the time inches closer towards departure, passengers begin to board the vast, red green and gold airliner.

Inside the aircraft some passengers are already comfortably seated while some hobble along the aisle trying to find their designated seats. A man dressed in shorts and t-shirt vibrantly displaying the colors of the Jamaican flag, pauses at row 17 A-B-C and begins to force his carry-on luggage in a very tight space in the overhead storage. A female passenger observing his vigorous attempts to squeeze the bag in the space is enraged.

Teresa: Hey, hey! Yute man! Tek time shoob in yuh bag fi mi noh. Mi siddung yah soh a watch yuh a tek time squeeze out di daylight outta mi roas breadfruit dem inna mi bag. Weh yuh noh goh fine wan nedda ovahead sinting weh can fit dat big evalasting, tough suitcase?!

Eric: (Places the bag at his feet) Hey ooman, a mek yuh a galang like a hag pen yuh grow inna soh?! A yah soh mi seat deh, soh mi noh know weh else yuh waan mi fi put mi bag.

Teresa: How yuh mean yuh noh know which part fi put di big ole bag?! Yuh cyaan sawch til yuh fine wan empty space inna di nex row ar sinting? Yuh tink a wan a dem hunk-up minibus yuh deh pan, country bway? If yuh tan yah mash out mi bresshe, yuh would a neva hear di en a it tideh!

Eric: Buff teet ooman, weh yuh noh LOWE MI an mine yuh blousenaught bizness! Di time yuh tek fi a pack breadfruit inna yuh bag, yuh shoulda have di decency fi put yuh blastid horse teet dem inna di bag fi put dem unda protective custody!

Trying to diffuse the quarrel, one of the flight attendants steps in and offers a solution.

Racquel: OK, OK! Let me see what I can do to help here. (Pointing) Mister, please remove that large, red duffel bag and let us put it somewhere else. Then you can fit your bag into the space.

Eric: Ah-rite. Dat soun like a good plan mi sistren. Tank yuh, yuh hear. Hope dat wi shut up miss dancehall queen ova deh soh. Blastid lip dem flabba-flabba an fayva dem dyam ram goat liva to blurtseed!

As Eric takes his seat, he is still visibly upset by the confrontation. An elderly passenger in the seat next to him tries to make him feel better.

Unis: Neva mine, love. A soh some a dem hurry-come-up gyal behave. My name is Miss Unis. What is yuh name son?

Eric: Yes madda, Eric is the name. (Reaches for a handshake) Eric Fagon. Nice to meet yuh.

Unis: Nice to meet yuh too, dear heart. Yuh remine mi a mi fuss son. Is im sen fi mi fi come a farrin. Yuh an im have di same look inna unu face. Same way soh im nose-ole widen out like train tunnel an handsome to boot.

Eric: (With a big smile) I take that as a compliment. Tank yuh, Miss Unis.

In a matter of minutes the airplane is at full capacity and the passengers are being briefed on flight safety instructions. Flight attendants survey each row to ensure all passengers have securely fastened their seat belts and are ready for take-off. The Captain turns on the cockpit microphone to speak to the passengers before departing.

Captain Magic: Pleasant good morning passengers. This is Captain Magic Bruzdo speaking. I want to welcome you all to flight 474 with service from Kingston to Miami and Philadelphia. Giving some big ups to di St. Elizabeth massive. Hail up to all di tappanaris dem inna firs class an nuff respec to all di goodaz girl dem an di shottas dem weh a fly coach. Rispec due!

Eric: (With two fingers in the air) BLOP! BLOP! Rispec dawdie! A BIG TINGS!

Veronica: Nichola, di pilot jus big up St. Elizabeth people! (Waving with glee) Raaayyyy!! St. Elizabeth people a carry di swing! BLACK RIVA TUN UP!

Nichola: Lawd V, tap galang like ole cruff inna di place. Puddung yuh han an tap yuh nize.

Captain Magic: (Chuckling as he continues) Just thought I would get di vibes going this morning wid some good, ole fashion yaad talk. Anyway, back to serious business. We are about to taxi to the runway for departure. Flight attendants, please prepare for take-off.

Russell: Loretta, yuh hear weh di plane driva seh bout taxi?

Loretta: No, mi neva did a pay close attenshan. Afta mi neva hear nutten bout noh taxi.

Russell: Yes man! Im mentian sinting bout taxi. (Waving to the flight attendant) HELLO MISS WAITRESS! Tell di plane driva fi run aff di blastid taxi dem affa di runway. Dem too blastid insipid! Weh di backside dem a do a di airport a block up di road?!

Racquel: (Smiling) No sir. We don’t have a problem with taxis on the runway. The Captain said he is about to “taxi” on the runway. That means he is preparing for take-off, sir. Go ahead and fasten your seat belt.

The passengers burst into a fit of laughter making Russell feel humiliated about his outburst. Amidst the laughter, an executive seated two rows behind him grumbles to his wife.

Basil: What a bloody, illiterate fool! Up in here showing his ignorance and lack of education.

Leonie: Oh good grief Basil! Leave the man alone. Is not everybody went to Calabar like you and graduated top of the class at UWI. Stop being so pompous!

Basil: (Straightening his shirt collar) You forgot to mention that I am also the Senior Business Financial Officer in charge of government affairs portfolio at Sagicore Corporation.

Leonie: Oh shut up Basil! Yuh too full of yuh dyam self!

Soon, the aircraft’s engines roar down the runway and the plane lifts off the ground. As the giant machine ascends into the soft, white clouds, the bright morning sun flares off windowpanes sending sparks of beaming light in the cabin. The passengers are all immersed in the magical feeling of the plane’s effortless ascent to the sky. A few minutes into the flight, the Captain announces the expected flying time and the flying altitude. Several minutes later, he informs all onboard that just below them, is the island of Cuba.

Veronica: Nichola, come wi wave to Castro. (Looking through the window and waving) Raaayyyy …Castro to di worlll!

Nichola: (Giggling) Veronica, yuh mad like shad. Bway, mi miss mi Jamaica arredi. Mi mad fi ask di pilot fi let mi aff a Castro country mek mi charta wan banana boat goh back home. Aah bway.

Veronica: Wi soon come back man. Quick time holiday come again an wi come back to wi home, sweet home.

As the young women continue to reminiscence about the memorable moments during their vacation, a very tall and slender woman gets up from her seat and heads to the bathroom. Veronica abruptly stops talking, stares and loathes as the woman passes by.

Veronica: (Looking disturbed) Jeezam peezum! What a gyal mawgah an look crawney! No man! Shi live too far fram har kitchen. Yuh si har, Nichola?

Nichola: Mi si har, V. Shi need fi goh pan a two week porridge program. Eida dat, or shi need some Supligen bad.

Veronica: What a stress! And look pan how much weave shi a carry pan tap a dat deh head. How yuh fi weigh 90 poun an a wear 200 poun wot a weave? Shi noh muss tumble ova wid dat deh imbalance?! Shi noh portion out right a-tall.

Nichola: (Laughing) Veronica, lef people alone. Wan day yuh ago chat bout di wrang smaddy an yuh ago get whole heapa tump up – watch. Yuh noh easy.

Just then a flight attendant makes an announcement on the PA system:

Monique: Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is Monique speaking. The Captain has advised that you may now turn on your electronic devices such as cellphones, laptops, boom boxes, blow dryers, curling irons, blenders and toaster ovens.

The passengers laugh out loud upon hearing Monique’s wise cracks.

Monique: (Smiles and continues) Also in a few moments, I will be coming around the cabin to offer you hot or cold drinks as well as breakfast. Alcoholic drinks are also available at a nominal charge. Please continue to sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight. Thank you.

NattyP: (Grumbles loudly) A ongle hope dem know seh dem naah serve noh powk gi rasta dis marning, enoh. I man bun out a powk pan plate! Rasta-far-ri know!

Sheldon: (Kiss teet) Kirk, dah ediat bway deh a gwaan like troo im head knot up, im a real rasta. Yuh can tell seh im did goh barba goh get a trim fi tek plane. A di fuss dread mi si line up soh good roun im head side an all a wear gole chapahreeta to rahtid pipe!

Kirk: (Laughing) Yow, fi real Don! Dah dread deh a camouflage. Yuh noh si im all have comb inna im back pocket. By di way, a wah dem have pan di menu? Trus mi when mi tell yuh seh mi hungry soh til mi tripe a twist to brown dawg!

Sheldon: When di flight attendant come troo shi wi tell yuh weh dem a serve. A bet seh dem nat even have lickle ackee and saltfish an fry dumplin fi gi wi.

Kirk: No star! Nowadays dem airline naah gi weh good food fi yuh money. Wan time yuh coulda get a nice plate ila-loo, fry plantain an dem tings deh but a bare foolishiness dem a gi wi fi wi money, paadie.

As the flight attendant saunters up the aisle, she announces the menu item to a passenger in row 14.

Monique: Breakfast for you sir? Today we have ham and cheese omelet with toast, blueberry muffins, fruits and cold cereal. What would you like, please?

 NattyP: (Screwed face) Bun a fiyah pan ham an cheese humlet! Rasta noh deal wid di swine. Unu noh have noh ital steam fish an bwile banana fi buil up I-man structra inna di marning yah, sistren?

Monique: No steam fish, sir. All the items I just mentioned are what we have to offer. You can have a muffin or some fruits. How about that?

NattyP: (Screwed face) Muffin or fruits? But a weh di…?! Dawta, I man noh nyam from di swine nor di vine, yah noh seet. Dat mean seh no powk, no grape, no wata-melon, no…

Monique: (Interrupting) SIR! SIR! Look, I am not trying to be rude here but I have to move on. If none of the food choices is to your liking, we can accommodate you with a snack.

NattyP: Chaaaaah! Jah know dis a almshouse biznesss unu airline a kip up enoh, dawta! (Whispering) Ah-rite, hear wah. Gi mi di ham and cheese humlet but mi a beg yuh wan knife soh mi can dig out di ham, zeen?

Monique: No problem. Would you like something to drink with that?

NattyP: Yes empress. Gi mi a diet Pepsi. No ice.

Kirk: (Laughing and choking up) Mi bombleeeet! Di dread orda wan diet Pepsi to bloodbawt! If a laugh a spread out an dead yah soh!

Sheldon: (Jokes) Den yuh noh si di sistren a gi im wan a di ham an cheese omelet to? Kiss mi june plum! From mi barn mi neva si nutten like dis.

Basil: (Speaking over the seat) Hey, hey! Cut it out you two! You young men have some dignity about yourselves in public. Your conduct is atrocious!

Sheldon: (Snaps) Shut up yuh bombeet mout an gweh fram yah, yuh lickle sissy! Goh back inna di hole yuh jus crawl fram before a ben up yuh blurtnaught face!

Leonie: (Mocks) A GOOD! Mi noh know why on eart yuh goh stick yuh nose into weh it noh belong fah. Mi seh mi cyaan stan yuh ways sometimes! Cho!

Basil: (Lowers his voice) Leonie, they were out of line and someone with decency had to say something to them. These leggobeasts in here are putting Jamaica to shame.

Leonie: Shush noh Basil! Si di flight attendant ready to tek wi order.

Monique: Ham and cheese omelet with toast and blueberry muffins, fruits and breakfast cereal. What would you like, please?

Basil: I’ll take the blueberry muffin with coffee, please. And make that black, no sugar, no cream. And my wife will have …

Leonie: (Cuts him off) Basil, I can order for myself, thank you. Miss, let me have the ham and cheese omelet with toast and orange juice, please. An is dat Anchor butta yuh have dere?

Monique: No miss. This is regular Blue Bonnet butter.

Leonie: Mi seh mi lang fi some Anchor butta yuh si. Ah-rite, let me have two of those small containers of butter too.

Basil: (Groans) Hmmnnn… I thought someone was going to be on a diet to get rid of the belly flab?

Leonie: Basil, kiss my fat ass! Yuh hear mi? KISS IT! Brite an outta orda! (Takes her breakfast) Excuse mi language yuh hear, Miss Monique. But troo yuh noh know how dis man can hackle mi nerves. Tank yuh fi di breakfaas.

Monique: Not a problem. (Strolls to the next row) Breakfast for you, sir?

*** Read More In “A Soh Dem Gwaan

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