That Time I Didn't Get Busted In Jamaica
So when you travel for work, as you traveling workers know, a lot of times you touch upon a place for a very short period of time. Especially on tour. I used to enjoy saying things like “Yeah…I ate lunch in Knoxville once…” While in Atlanta, I worked for a music promoter that put on music festivals on cruise ships. We would sail through the Caribbean with a bunch of bands and about 2,000 happy, tan, drunken music fans. Yes, it sounds glamorous on paper but never forget, a gig is a gig and someone has to make the magic happen while working 18 hour days on little more than a bottle of water and a tuna fish sandwich. One of those cruises pulled into port at Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Speaking of not being glamorous, this place was sadly, a cruise ship casualty town. The port was fenced off by this ugly ten foot high security fencing…to keep the locals out? There was a crappy little beach and some chosen vendors on the inside of the perimeter. You could leave the corral and step right into the town so of course I did. I remember seeing young kids in Catholic school uniforms and a lot of sad, empty looks.
I was by myself and simply needed to get off that damn boat, get some fresh air and decompress from my very stressful job as Box Office Manager. I was wearing plaid shorts, a bucket hat and my Green Monstah t-shirt that my fellow Red Sox loving friends had given me. In other words, I looked like an easy American mark. So I’m walking down the street through the fray, my highly suspicious Yankee antenna was up and I was on guard. I’m no fool. I see this tall, skinny, handsome Jamaican man with beautiful flowing dreads walking toward me. He was charming from 20 feet away and I thought here we go. As he got closer he said in the most quintessential island accent “Green MonSTAH, welcommmmme to JamaiCAH!” I smiled. When he got close enough to be right beside me, he instantly whipped around in my direction, never broke his stride, leaned down in to my ear and whispered, “What do you need?” I looked up at him, still smiling and said “I’m good man, I’m actually on a break from work.” My gaze revealed the many blocks I had been around so he wished me a pleasant day and kept moving. I’m no fool.
Once I had enough of that depressing scene of trashy streets and aggressive vendors, I went back through the fence, made it through the customs search and back onboard. Later that afternoon the news raced through the ship that a bunch of roadie guys bought weed on the street, got busted with it at customs, got left at the dock by the ship and transported to the local Jamaican jail where their American dollars were surely a big hit. We were all joking that it was probably the same local selling the same bags of weed to all the dumbasses who he then pointed out to customs, got the weed back and did it all over again. I often wonder if it was my local. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters is that I’m no fool.