Observing what is going around us and the way we are living and how we are forced to live it is either laughable or makes you sad; that is why some of us write or talk about it with the hope that it enlightens others and makes a change.
In the quest to become rich, some either work honestly or dishonestly. As a small boy growing up in the Charlestown/Albouystown areas, sometimes my smaller brother and I would end up in the line to hold different spaces so that my mom could get to purchase the then scarce Bristol cigarettes from the functioning JP Santos near to the Stabroek Market. One time someone pretending to be an employee of JP Santos offered my mom a carton of Bristol at a cheaper price than the store, and she hurriedly purchased it and returned home excitedly only to discover it was filled with sawdust. After that we started to hear that the cigarette packs would be cleverly packed and sealed with sawdust also. Christmas time would see a lot of people selling plants, and some would turn out to be just a branch broken off from a tree, strapped to a stone and buried in the pot it keep it down for those smart shoppers who would hold the plant and pull it to ensure it’s planted.
Then there were some grocers who would mix one bag of broken rice into every two or three bags of good rice and tell you that is how they got it. Apart from the cigarettes, the other incidents still happen, along with many more innovative scams that occur daily. There’s a vehicle that plies the West Coast area wholesaling and retailing lots of different things including kero. More than once at different locations I observed women complaining that the kero was burning fast. One of my friends who owns a grocery store informed me that for years these people would mix diesel with the kero and that made it burn faster and they ended up making more profit.
There’s a store selling cheap paints also on the West Coast of Demerara and a few mornings after using the paint, it starts to peel off. Interestingly, one of the staff always wonders why the owner has many bags of flour in the store when he’s not selling flour. When he started to mention it around, someone told him that the flour is used to mix into the paint.
There’s lots of goldsmiths who mix your gold with copper, or the white gold with silver and the colour changes very quickly. Then there are many people who tamper with their scales just to rob you of a few ounces. Many of those who love to use salt fish and dried shrimp would notice both of these sometimes have a reddish colour and a terrible smell. That comes about because they are not dried properly and weigh more as a result, which causes them to spoil if not used immediately.
There are some people who would mix small pieces of lead and metals and even coins in the duck feed, so that they could get more weight when the ducks eat, while others would wet the white chickens when taking them to the market to sell live. Again, that adds a few more ounces for them.
Editor, approximately six years ago one of my in-laws went to purchase a bottle of medicine for my one-year-old daughter at a pharmacy. When she came home, we observed the expiry date on the box blocked and at the bottom of the box it could be seen that the medication had expired two months earlier. When we opened the box, the bottle’s original label had been removed and a photocopy of the label had been pasted onto the bottle with an expiry date a few months away stamped with what looked like a local rubber stamp. I immediately went to the pharmacy and pointed out the above to them and requested a refund. The seller informed me that they don’t take back anything and that is how they got it. After making a report at the Bureau of Standards, one of the inspectors promised to look into the matter. A few days later they visited the pharmacy and seized lots of items that were expired, but they didn’t charge anyone.
Just before the last Holi season the wife of one of my friends purchased a dozen cans of milk to prepare sweet foods for the holiday, and when she punctured the can, the milk was brown. All the rest was the same colour and her husband noticed the expiry date had been rubbed off from the paper label and he immediately threw them away.
At Stabroek Market, especially opposite KFC, there’s a wide array of foodstuff selling very cheaply and most of it is missing the expiry date or has just expired. There are many importers who purchase foodstuff that is close to the expiry period at extremely low prices from foreign companies, and then flood the markets with them. Many vendors rush for the opportunity of making huge profits. Why these importers are allowed to bring them in is a mystery. There is much expired confectionary being sold and most of it is going to unsuspecting schoolchildren. Again most of these things are expensive when they are not close to the expiry date, but to avoid losses, they sell them off cheaply just before or as they expire and by the time they reach the schoolchildren, they have expired. If one keeps track of what is selling near the schools, one would observe regular changes in the items on offer.
Finally Editor, every time there’s a drug bust, the public is amazed at the creative methods being used by the smugglers to get the illegal substance out of the country. If one were to follow the different methods, Guyana would be sure to win the award for creativity, especially with the latest awara bust.