Kaieteur News – Back in the day when you passed your school-leaving examinations, you could count on becoming a good clerk with one of the small companies that they had around… that is if you knew somebody inside.
For back in the day, it did not matter whether you passed or you failed the school leaving, you catching your tail unless you knew somebody who was either somebody or knew somebody that could get you a good job.
They had some fellows who used to have things easy. They weren’t rich but they came from the right family, the sort of family that knew people who could open doors, narrow as they were.
Some of these same fellows became big ones but not on merit because when they would see bright boys who used “to cut dem tail in school,” they would turn away because they knew that the bright boys deserve the job. The fellows knew that they deserve to be scrounging like so many others.
But so is life eh! Some men become real big because they were born into the right connections. Some poor guys study hard and found that whatever doors were opened for them, they had to push first with their knees.
Many poor people used this as an excuse. They say that the system discriminates against them. They claim that they failed school leaving because the system did not want them to go and get a clerk work.
But when it comes to exams, the system is fair. They did fail. But they are ashamed to admit it. As good as they were, they were not good enough.
They failed and since they did not have the right connections, they had to start from scratch. Some of them end up at scratch. After a while, they forget their dreams. They forget that they had wanted to become a clerk in Bookers or the civil service.
They decided to settle wherever they were, hoping that the boss man remember them at Christmas and when they get old that the company will pay them a pension which will be tidy for them over their remaining days.
They didn’t cater for something called inflation and nationalisation. When the nationalisation thing started, the boss man decided that it was time to begin to ship out his money.
They kept the company going, hoping that the nationalisation thing would pass, but they kept shipping out their money. They sent their children overseas too and in the meantime, the poor man started to find that things were getting harder and harder.
Instead of waiting for pension, the poor fellow tried to figure out whether he can live to 90 because the way the inflation going, he most likely will have to work all he life because he can’t even afford to pay for the coffin.
The poor man sitting down pining away hoping that business will pick up so that the boss man don’t have to send he home. But things didn’t pick up. Things start to go down… and fast too.
Meantime, the boss man has one foot in and one foot out. He is living in two countries, six months outside and six months inside.
At least when he comes back, he does bring a tin a sardine, which the poor man had to hide to eat.
It was when he sat for all those hours doing nothing waiting for things to get better that he wonders about the school-leaving certificate and why he did not pass.
Up to then, he still saying that they cheat him, that he ‘make the grade’ and if they did not rob he and all the other boys, he ‘would have a big job’ like them middle class boys who used to play all day and ended up in good jobs and driving Holden motor cars.
Some of his friends encourage him to try his hand at pork-knocking. They say ‘it have good money’. When he sees them boys, they always have money and spending it too on liquor and women.
But that sort of life was not for him. He wanted to work in office. He settled for the storage bond but perhaps one day his children will not have to do like he did.
Only thing is that now the examinations change. It is no longer school leaving. It has another name, and some of these children writing 14 and 15 subjects. They don’t need them big jobs that they can get with them certificate but it is them who will get it.
Not his children. This time is not the exam that cheating…‘it is the system that cheats!’ The more you try, the harder it gets. It is a good thing that he held on to his two-cent job. It is still better than nothing, which is what he had most of his life!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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