Guyanese Rumble

Things got a little rough on the bus this morning and yesterday on my way to work. Yesterday, there was an all out rumble in the street between some people on my bus and some people in the bus ahead of me. Today, almost every person sitting on the bus with me started yelling at the driver. It was the verbal equivalent of wrestling the driver out of the bus. These little issues are reminders to keep my wits about me. It’s important to remember that I’m really not allowed to ever feel completely comfortable in this country. It would be too risky to let my guard down.
When I arrived at school late today and almost late yesterday due to these issues on the bus, the teachers asked me what had happened. When I explained the situations they made sure to remind me to be careful. They say people in Guyana operate a little differently in that they get angry very quickly and, dare I say, irrationally. I was reminded of this twice in the last two days. The brawl yesterday was between the driver of a bus and a pedestrian that he clipped with the mirror of his bus as he passed him in a crosswalk. Apparently the driver didn’t bother to stop or apologize so the pedestrian chased down the bus, yanked the driver from the front seat and wrestled him down in the middle of the street. This is the point in the story where the bus I was on pulled up to the scene. Then, the conductor of both the bus in front of us and the conductor of the bus I was on jumped out onto the street and started to pry the men off of each other. It was a disturbing scene, one that brought me right back to the immature throw downs of high school that students would gather around to watch. When all was said and done, the driver got back into his bus and the pedestrian walked away. I’m not sure what anyone thinks they accomplished in the whole ordeal, but I took something away from it.
As the bus started up again, a woman boarded and explained what had happened. That’s how I got the whole story.
Today’s bus ride had passengers pinned against the driver in a “who can raise their voice the loudest” battle about fairs. When a primary aged student was asked to pay $60 instead of $40 (that’s a difference of 10 cents) the passengers erupted into a fury. I certainly wasn’t comfortable watching two men fight in the street, but I was even less comfortable being in the bus with so many screaming people.

That’s all there is to the story though. Angry people. Or, gentle reminders to stay positive, treat others with respect, and remember that the police will never show up to a scene here in Guyana, we the people are on our own. Everyone has each other’s backs.

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