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They stampeded down the boardwalk, wide smiles on each of their faces and I absolutely hated them for it. Despised them for their smiles. For their obvious happiness. I loathed them for their wealth that was so visible as they all neared the entrance of the island. I couldn’t stand to look at them yet I knew that I would once again have to plaster on a smile and face them.
“Welcome to Jamaica. Can I offer you a tour of the island in my taxi?”
Many of the tourists didn’t even bother to acknowledge my presence . One large lady, after staring me up and down, announced to her husband that they’d be better off heading back to their cruise ship because this island made her feel unsafe. I watched as her large frame was swallowed by the shadows of the enormous vessel.
I detested them for their ignorance. The way they thought they were better than me. I couldn’t understand why they would want to act like that. Did they think that money made them a better person?
“Can we please have a ride?” a lady asked as she approached me with her husband and three children. She asked me so politely and talked to me like an equal, but I disliked her all the same. She probably felt pity for me. She felt bad that I had to hold the car door open for them and serve as their cheap chauffeur.
Her children piled into the back of the van and I loathed them too. Their clothes were straight from a catalogue and their vocabulary came directly from a private school. I just didn’t get why those kids were allowed such a great education when I didn’t get a chance to go past grade five.
“And here are some banana trees to your right,” I said for the third time that day. The kids were amazed by this little fact. Little did they know, my tiny dirt shack of a house was right up that hill. They would probably find that fact a little more shocking.
The tour came to an end. The family thanked me repeatedly before walking back onto the boardwalk towards their cruise ship.
As they headed to their ship, I wondered to myself why I would never get the chance to step foot aboard a massive boat like theirs. Why I was the one who would show people Jamaica but would never get to really enjoy it for myself? Why did they deserve to have so much money and I didn’t? Why did they have the right to a happy life and I didn’t?
And that’s the moment when it finally hit me. I deserved it just as much as they did but I never did anything about it. I had always longed to be one of them but I never thought I could. I wondered why I didn’t have their life but I had never done anything to make it happen. I could have their life if I believed it.
That was the day that I sent in an application for the Community College for adult education. On that day, I knew for sure that at some point in the future, I would be the one walking off that cruise ship.