I remember sitting in the back seat of our family car* waiting for my father at his job at White Motors Inc. in Cleveland Ohio in the early 1960’s. The men were lined up like the horses at a racetrack starting gate waiting to be released. At the loud air horn whistle that could be heard blocks away, the men took off running towards their cars in attempts to be first out of the parking lot. At that time we only had one car so if my mom needed it, she would drive my dad to work and pick him up at midnight. The men arrived at work early and left on time because they realized the importance of being on time.
Bajans are usually on time, Bajan Time! Bajan time is not the time on a notice, or an invitation, it’s the time when Bajans start showing up.
After many years of casually watching cricket, I finally understand and enjoy the game. A match between Oistins Church of Christ and Church Village was scheduled to start at 4:30pm. Of course, at 4:30pm my passengers Andre, Ann, Sandra and I were the only ones at the field. We were at the field for about 30 minutes before a few others started to show up. I was told that the game would start shortly at about 6:00pm.
The game didn’t actually start until 6:30pm. Imagine my surprise when the team gathered together in huddle for the pre-game chat that someone came to where I was seated and said “Brother Calvin, we need one more player.” I looked around left and right then placed my index finger on my chest and said “Me?” There I was the first time ever standing on a cricket pitch ready to play because the rest of the team was on Bajan time! Mercifully the rest of the team showed up and I was replaced after 13 overs* about 7:30 pm, 3 hours late.
In May, I attended a Mother’s Day Luncheon that was scheduled to start at 2:00pm. I was asked to open the event with a prayer and to say a few words of encouragement at this appreciation luncheon. I wanted to make sure that I got there “on time” so we showed up about 3:00pm, (an hour late). The actual event started about 5:00pm. I have learned that you have to be careful about showing up too early or you may be asked to go to the store, help clean up the house or finish the rice or vegetables in the kitchen.
Our church routinely starts late. The service is suppose to start at 8:15 am but that rarely happens. Usually it’ll start between 8:20am and 8:30am but I have heard that in the past, it has started as late as 9:00am.
I am not surprised that the the few weddings that I have attended in Barbados have started a couple of hours late. However, late weddings are not unusual in the US and probably every where else, including my daughters wedding March of this year in Atlanta.
The one place where Bajans show up on time is a funeral! It’s important to arrive on time to make sure that you get an opportunity to view the deceased and to greet family, friends and relatives you haven’t since the last funeral.
My wife Sandra and her elderly aunt and cousin carefully peruse the Sunday Barbados Nation Newspaper to find out if anyone they knew died, then they’ll decide which funerals they are going to attend. Even though there are 280,000+ people in Barbados if someone in your district dies, there is a strong likelihood that you either know the person or are good friends with some of their relatives.
In my blog November 2016 called “Bajan Love a Good Funeral,”I wrote the following excerpt ” Inside were some women sobbing unashamedly and inconsolable. There were stone faced men trying to comfort them to no avail! Yet, there were smiles and laughter for some as people greeted friends they haven’t seen since last funeral saying “Wait, you still living!” Somehow, it all blends in together making it both a sad and happy occasion.”
I assume most Bajans get to work on time which is more than I can say about my 30+ year career at Meditech. There were two things that management could count on. First, they knew I would always be there as I seldom missed a day of work. Secondly, they could count on me being late!
I guess I was a Bajan in training!
* My favorite family car, a light blue 1962 Dodge Matador with tailfins and a push button transmission.
** In the sport of cricket, an over consists of six consecutive balls bowled by a single bowler from one end of a cricket pitch to the batsman at the other end. After six deliveries the umpire calls ‘over‘; the fielding team switches ends, and a different bowler is selected to bowl from the opposite end.