I feel a bit like a school teacher – taking a couple months off – but the fruit that is to come from doing so is going to be sweet indeed.
Anyway, on to today’s feature story….
Laundry in the Ghetto
This past Wednesday, as five days of laundry began to ripen – I asked a lady at the Information desk in the Coral Towers Hotel in Nassau, Bahamas, where I could find a drop-off “fluff and fold” laundromat.
She told me where to go, but frankly, with my heavy accent, I couldn’t make out what she was saying. I asked her if she’d write the address for me on a slip of paper. She obliged and told me to hand the address to the taxi.
“WULFF ROAD” was the address – and this alone should have probably given me a clue, even if it wasn’t misspelled.
El taxi told me it was a LONG WAY to this particular laundramat. This was “Code” for telling me he was going to charge me an outrageous $25.00 fee for a rather short ride.
This particular taxi driver, like almost all the taxi drivers here in the Bahamas had the Holy Bible close at hand. In the male-operated taxi’s, It’s either next to their seat or on the dash, and I beileve it gives the impression… or the illusion of honesty.
Before dropping me off, Mr. Taxi went to great lengths to tell me how he grew up in “the projects” – and how there are laundramats there as well, and cheaper – but in his opinion, not safe.
My goodness, he was really looking out for me.
A few blocks from my desitnation the driver further verified that I was in a safe area BECAUSE the police station would be directly across from me.
Super. Thank you so very, very much.
I negotiated the laundry fee for wash, dry and fold. Twas twenty bucks. A fair deal in my opinion.
Per the driver’s recommendation I glided next door to nab some grub at a take-out joint called the Bamboo Shack.
As I ordered my food and waited, more and more people showed up.
I was the only white boy in the area – and everyone was friendly – or at the very worst, neutral.
Even so, I opened the eyes on the back of my head, focused on my breathing and relaxed any tension I felt into calmness.
Ah. No worries.
After getting my food I walked back toward the laundry, passed it by and sat before an abandoned unit right next door. This placed me directly – mean eyeball-to-eyeball, across from the police station.
Not a worry in the whirld as fellow Bahamians pulled up and walked in front as well as behind me.
After beginning my meal two cops meandered over and began an interrogation.
“Hello sir, where you from?” asked the Sgt.
“I’m from Florida.”
“Okay, Why are you here?”
“I’m doing my laundry next door.”
“Why are you in town?”
“My son is playing baseball in a tournament over here.”
“Where you staying?”
“How much longer you gonna be here?”
“The lady doing my laundry said it would take an hour and ten minutes.”
I answered so politely that they nodded at me, turned and walked away.
A few minutes later the two cops returned, asking me to come across the street for protection.
“But I was told this area is safe,” I said.
With bugged-out eyes the Sgt laughs and says, “SAFE? Who the hell told you that? There are crimes here all the time. This is the ghetto, man. And you’re a fish outta water. It only takes about 30-40 seconds to commit a crime and run – and in the Bahamas track is our best sport.”
This was stunning information – but not enough to rattle my calm state. Although I waswatching my breath, feeling fearless and thinking good thoughts, I thought it might be a good idea to do as advised anyway, so I willingly walked across the street to the police station.
“You’re welcome to sit inside or out,” said the Sgt.
Something about going inside didn’t feel right, so I plopped my rumpus on a light blue concrete bench to the right of the doors.
The Sgt. stood facing traffic as we talked. Over the course of the next 90 minutes there were no colors or races. He was there to protect and serve. ME.
And while doing so he gave me the scoop on Bahamian culture, history, etc.
“Why did the taxi bring you here?” he asked. “He oughta know better.”
“I gave him a slip of paper with the address that was given to me by a lady at Coral Towers.”
“What was she thinking? Man, this is nuts. Why didn’t the taxi take you to Bayshore? There’s places to do laundry there that are totally safe.”
“Don’t know,” I said.
“You know what we call white people over here?” the Sgt. asks.
“We call you Conchy Joe’s – after the white-shelled conch we eat over here.”
“So, if you don’t mind my asking, what do you do for a living?”
“I write books, programs and create DVDs on fitness, martial arts and such,” i said.
“Any best-sellers?” he asked.
“By the looks of your ears, you’ve seen some big competition.”
“I won a world title in China,” I said.
“”Oh really?” he said, then paused, took a deep breath and said, “So, maybe you could protect US more than we can protect YOU?”
“You just never know,” I replied. “Anything can happen. It all depends.”
We spoke about much more and when my clothes were finished the police sergeant drove me back to my hotel.
As I opened the door I debated what to do. To tip or not to tip, that was the question.
This was the ONE TIME in Nassau wherein someone did something to help me and I wasn’t being billed a thing. Everywhere you go, gratuities are NOT a choice. They’re mandatory.
Wherever you go to eat, 15% is already added to your bill. And adding insult to sleep time, I stayed in a Hilton for two nights – and was billed $10.00 per night, auto-gratuity… for the MAID. I wonder if she ever sees a nickle of that gratutiy. I’m leaning toward a “no” on that one.
“I’d like to send you a ‘thank you’ gift,” I said to the officer. May I have the correct spelling of your name and address?”
After typing “Sgt. Stephan Moultrie” into my smart-device, the question still nagged me.
“I’m very grateful for your help,” I said. “What do I owe you?”
“You owe me nothing, man,” he said.
Peeling back a couple bills from my wad, I handed him a generous tip.
“This is for you, my friend. I’ll never forget you. Expect a package from me, and be sure to thank your boss for me.”
“He’s the one who told me to look out for you. The last thing we need here is an attack on a foreign tourist. Not good for business, ya know.”
“I can imagine,” I said. “If something happened to me, there might be a few people upset.”
He smiled. “Take care, my friend. And if you ever want to come visit me, you know my name and where I work. I’m there from 6 PM to 2 AM every day.”
“Thanks again,” I said, waving goodbye.
Even though there are plenty of “shoulds” in this story, I’m truly grateful for the ENTIRE experience. Learned a lot.
Personally, I thought I’d be safe sitting by myself, waiting outside for my laundry. But the heavens must have disagreed – so Sgt. Moultrie was sent my way.
There are many “take-aways” in this story as well. The one that strikes me most profoundly is the imporance of being “cool, calm and collected” – even if you’re in a dangerous place.
This sense of calmness is what I’ve learned by studying Zero Resistance Living and Theatre of the Mind. Calmness makes everything in life turn out better than it would have. Tension is the enemy. Rid it from your mind and body on a daily
If you can use some of this calmness in your life – I suggest you get these stellar programs NOW.