Last night, I went to the pharmacy to get some aspirin for a sore throat I’ve been having. Did you know they have soluble aspirin? I thought I’d have to crush it up and mix it with water if I wanted to gargle it.
Anyway, the gentleman in front of me asked the cashier for some cold/sinus medicine.
“Drowsy or non-drowsy?” she asked him.
“Mi no nuo bout dat,” he answered.
The cashier proceeded to pick up two packets and put them on the counter, taking his money.
I knew something was wrong. I looked to the cashier, busy at work, and then to the man. And I explained to him, “Jowzi mek yu sliip.” (“Drowsy makes you sleep.”)
“Ohn, jowzi mek yu sliip,” he said. “So nanjowzi mek yu no sliip. Gi mi som a di nonjowzi de. Dem a wach Magnom, so dem naa go waahn sliip.” (“So, non-drowsy doesn’t make you sleep. Give me some of the non-drowsy one. They’re watching Magnum, so they won’t want to sleep.”)
The cashier took back the packets from the counter and replaced them with the ones he’d just requested.
I felt irritated. If it had been some White, Asian, or any other foreigner with a limited grasp of English who didn’t know what “drowsy” meant, I’m sure she would have explained. But a Black man, a Patwa-speaker? No. That would just be a waste of time. After all, they’re ignorant, uneducated, there’s no help for them. Kmt.
And what’s worse is that the cashier never even blinked an eye, never seemed to think that if this random other customer could have thought to explain in her buyer’s native language that she could (that she should!), too. Or even in English, “Drowsy makes you sleepy.” Simple. I’m sure he’d have understood that. But, no.
Step up your game, Jamaica. It’s called customer service for a reason.