Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados TODAY Inc.
After several years, I am still very concerned about the onerous and unreasonable notices which are posted at entrances to buildings where members of the public must seek services provided by the State.
Most of these ill-advised restrictions make it quite difficult for some members of the public to access services or to do business, when in fact the overriding concern should be to either collect Government’s revenue or administer the services provided by taxpayers in accordance with the established policy.
Pray tell me, how does it help or hinder this democratic country, if a man or woman seeking entry to these facilities to do business wears slippers, sandals, or “boots and stockings”? How does a sleeveless shirt, blouse or pencil straps adversely affect the quality, efficiency or consistency of the service being sought? And why should a woman’s cleavage disrupt the professionalism of service providers? There is a line in a song penned by the Draytons Two which reads “Ah come hey to drink milk, I in come hey to count cow”.
The message in this line is quite instructive and suggests that a clear focus should be on the core functions of your agency, which should always be, to deliver your service with the highest level of professionalism possible and with the utmost efficiency.
I fear however, that in a growing number of cases our priorities are upside down (I was really tempted to write “screwed up”) and this makes possible, according a higher level of importance to what the client or person seeking to do business is wearing, than with the agency’s ability to provide a satisfactory service.
It is to be regretted, that in some instances we are subjecting a sizeable minority of our vulnerable populations to unnecessary embarrassment, inconvenience and ridicule, which is akin to an assault on their fundamental rights and freedoms, when they of necessity are simply trying to obtain a much-needed service, be it at the QEH, NIS, polyclinic, BRA or any other public service locations.
We must all hope that those invested with the power and authority to effect meaningful change will do so, bearing in mind that accessing services provided at taxpayers’ expense is of far greater importance than one’s apparel.
In all fairness, it must be acknowledged that in a number of Government Agencies, some officers provide an exemplary service and I earnestly hope that this is contagious.
The very stringent and daunting requirements for entry to a growing number of these facilities, is to a large extent a stark reminder that our black brothers and sisters seem hell bent on punishing us for not being able to demonstrate possession of the same “Class identification” and wardrobe as our more affluent members of society.
I feel compelled to confess the observation, that some of us seem quite eager to forget from whence we came as a people and that for the most part, we are but one pay cheque away from the vulnerabilities of poverty and the inability to pay rent, mortgages, car payments and other necessities of today’s living.
To those who are so vigorously maintaining these barriers to taxpayer funded services, please be reminded that colonialism by any other name and in any other form, is no less galling and dehumanising except, of course, that the offending power and authority now reside within the bosom our own home grown “army of occupation” who might not be wielding the proverbial big stick or the whip literally but use them in the form of those insulting notices now posted at entrances to public buildings.
The reality is that the poor, dispossessed, disadvantaged and marginalised Barbadians bear the brunt of these impositions at the hands of their better-off compatriots.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Walk good dear friends and comrades, walk good.
George S Griffith is a social development advocate and consultant.