“Political opponents, but never enemies.”
So said former prime minister Basdeo Panday of his political colleague, former prime minister Patrick Manning.
Recently I had some business to do at a government office and thought it best to get there early to avoid the usual traffic snarl and nightmare parking of Port-of-Spain. I walked up to the front desk, where two people were seated, one a security guard and the other a shabbily dressed young man. “Good morning, I’d like to deliver a package to the ministry,” I said. Both of them had their faces buried in their cell phones.
“You could give it to him,” the security guard mumbled, sitting shoulder to shoulder with the person to whom she is suggesting I hand the package. The young man hurriedly says, “It have no messenger here.” I suppose at 8.30 am it is a bit of a stretch to expect people to be at work in a government office. “Well can I leave it with you so that it gets to the relevant department?” “I nut attarize to collect nuttin’ here, you go ha’ to come back when de messenger reach.”
This seemed peculiar. Neither party would receive the package, nor would they “attarize” me to go upstairs to deliver it myself. Their reluctance to do anything that might even come close to rendering assistance obviated the need to have them at the front desk at all.