Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Tuesday | October 13, 2009
Home : Lifestyle
An airport adventure

A front view of the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

'Yuh must have manners! Yuh is a likkle pickney. Just true yuh grow ah 'Merica yuh believe yuh better dan we?'

Leonard Sheffield and his wife, Estel, from Cotton Piece district in the hills of rural St Catherine, have been standing at the same spot at Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport for the last two hours.

It's a sunny day and the the beads of sweat on their foreheads show how hot they are, but the retired mason and his stay-at-home wife aren't budging.

"Den ef wi go move right yah now and di pickney come and nuh see wi, ah problem fi go find har again," said Leonard, his eyes wide.

I met the elderly couple earlier that day and was surprised to see them more than an hour later standing at the same spot, even as the afternoon heat was causing those on the inside to complain. I asked the two why they didn't go stand in the shade. Estel, a short, dark-skinned woman with unprocessed hair and a mole on her right cheek seemed open to the suggestion and looked anxiously at her husband for approval. Unfortunately, the man dismissed the idea.

"Is better we stay right here, Estel, so dat we will see when di child reach outside," he said.

Leonard and Estel had travelled to Kingston early that morning to meet their granddaughter who would be visiting for the month. They retained the services of Alton, the community taxi operator, who was waiting in his car parked at the airport parking lot.

Estel seemed thrilled to have their only grandchild visit but Leonard was, let us say, a bit hesitant.

"Dat chigga-foot pickney nuh have no manners from di day 'im born. Is sake a mi wife alone why mi agree fi mek she come stay wid wi," he said, his voice getting loud.

'Nuh really know any better'

Estel seemed disturbed by her husband's outburst and quickly interjected.

"Is not dat she don't have any manners yuh know. Is just dat she never grow here, so she nuh really know any better," she said.

Leonard rolled his eyes. "Mi tell yuh already yuh know, wife, if dat pickney come here wid attitude I gwine pepper har behind," said Leonard. Estel grimaced.

I asked the couple what time the flight was expected to arrive.

"Well, a young woman just come and tell us dat di flight arrive about 30 minutes now," said Estel, using her hand to shade her eyes from the glare of the sun.

It was then that I heard the scream. "Eeek! Oh my God! Grandpa and Grandma! It's been like so long, oh my goodness!" A girl no older than 18 came running down the walkway. She was wearing sunglasses, a leather coat and boots that went all the way up to her knees. She ran up to the couple.

Estel hugged and kissed her on her cheek while Leonard looked her over.

"Den child, dem never tell yuh dat Jamaica is a hot country? Why yuh have on all ah dem carouches deh?" said Leonard, his lips curled into a half smirk.

The girl looked herself over then waved her grandfather off. "Oh, grandpa, you always were a hoot," she laughed.

It was here that I decided it was time to leave, as Leonard's expression showed that he was not amused by the classification.

As I walked away I heard him saying "Yuh must have manners! Yuh is a likkle pickney. Just true yuh grow ah 'Merica yuh believe yuh better dan we?"


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