About ten years ago, I had the following conversation with an Anguillan carpenter who repaired half of my falling-down fence. After several hours of work, he drove off to get more wood, but he never returned. The concrete lower wall that once held the upper lattice fence is still standing strong to this day, but the wood fence sits half done atop the concrete. Months after the initial work began, I ran into the carpenter and this is how our meet up went.
My wife and I drove down an old bumpy Anguillan road and worked our way though the minefield of pot holes and pulled up to a stop sign. To our pleasant surprise we saw our old friend, the Rasta carpenter, sitting in his truck on the side of the road. We pulled up beside his beat up old truck and his face lit up as he immediately recognized us. (I’m guessing he thought something like, “Hey, it’s da white folks who thought da fence was gonna get fixed.”) He stuck his head out the window and yelled,
“Hey, hey, Everyting good?”
We smiled and returned greetings, told him it was nice to see him, shared some small talk about the island, and then I asked the million-dollar question.
“Hey man. What’s the deal with our fence?”
To this he promptly replied, “Ya, mon. Was comin back to work on it, but, ya know, I was buyin some land”.
Here’s the tricky part to understanding a conversation like this if you’ve never lived in the islands. You probably think there’s more to the story and you’re waiting to hear the relevance between buying some land and building a fence, but there isn’t more to the story. It’s finished. He was buying some land, so the fence did not get fixed… ever, period.
If you try too hard, island thinking can be a complex and illogical thought process to figure out. I lived in the Caribbean for seven years and I still do not fully understand it. On the flip side, you cannot begin to imagine how many seemingly important task get tossed aside into the “No Worries” pile. We got used to our broken fence. When company came over and asked, “What’s going on with your fence?” We simply shrugged and said, “Carpenter was buying some land.” Newbies tended to be confused. Anyone who had lived on the island for a while would just say, “Oh,” and nod in an understanding way. Obviously, anyone buying land couldn’t build a fence. At least not in the islands.