and on that ferry to Tobago!
By Simone Delochan, firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the celebration of our 125th year, the Catholic News has been paying tribute to the people in different areas of involvement, from wrappers to quality control to distribution. To say that woman power is strong in the Catholic News is an understatement but by no means the complete picture.
In this week’s instalment, we look at three men who give up their Thursdays every week to ensure that the Catholic News is delivered to all parts of Trinidad and Tobago – east, west and as far south as Point Fortin.
The fundamental similarity in all the men interviewed – Neil Harry, Peter Lum and Joel Joseph, is the knowledge that they are representing a brand and the Church and they do so with immeasurable charm and amiability. This is the first thing that will strike anyone interacting with them: their warmth and willingness to engage in a good ‘ole talk’.
Neil Harry, 41, has been delivering the paper for 14 years, describing the experience as enjoyable. A welder fabricator by profession, he was introduced to delivery by Binmati Lena Lalla, who was presented with a long-service award for her 25 years as a distributor. He first began with the entire east-west route, then three years ago, was given the south-central route which includes Chaguanas, Couva, Carapichaima, San Fernando, Cross Crossing and down to Point Fortin.
The self-proclaimed “town man” said he didn’t really have reason to go down south before but now that he has, he realises “down south is a nice drive…I get lost a few times but now I know the roads. I take all kind of back roads and I see villages and how happy the people live, in remote areas. They live so simple. It’s forest all around them, and they living day-to-day and they comfortable. I feel they happier than we!”
He says the scenery also compensates for the traffic he may encounter. “You see a lot of the sea going down that side. Sometimes, you see the boats pulling up and they offloading their fish, their catch for the day. All of that is so nice.”
How does he handle the long drives, the traffic and the inclement weather? “I don’t rush the work. I kinda make it like a ‘lime’. If I see a new fruit stall, I would stop, interact, buy myself some oranges and snack going down the road….I have to make it fun because it’s a long drive, and I by myself …”
For Peter Lum, 54, his almost eight years of distribution on the west route is made satisfying because he treats it as evangelisation. “When you go out there you meet all kinds of people, not just Catholics alone, and you meet them as a Catholic. They see you as a person representing the Church. So I am not just representing CAMSEL…and I like to try to be a good example.”
He had left his job at an air-conditioning company, wanting something with a slower pace. He saw the ad in the Catholic News for a distributor, answered it, was interviewed, and the rest, as they say, is history. He too finds it enjoyable to come in on a Thursday to the CAMSEL offices, “troubling people”, he says with a laugh, and interacting with the various people he encounters along the way.
The most challenging part of his job is his drop-off to the ferry to Tobago as “the ferry is so unpredictable”. There are times he says, when things go smoothly, but not for long. “You never know what to expect when you go from week to week. It could be anything from the ferry breaking down, to the schedule, or you meet somebody who is difficult to deal with…when you meet somebody new they can take you through a whole thing that you never knew about before.” He maintains his good humour though, because “99 per cent of the time everything works out”.
The youngest of the group is Joel Joseph who at 35 has a busy schedule that includes a courier service, teaching martial arts and self-defense, running a gym, videography and appearing in media ads. He makes room on a Thursday to deliver on the eastern route which takes him about four to five hours.
Traffic may be tedious, but it is ameliorated by his love of driving. While many may seek to mentally escape by listening to music while on the road, he rests comfortably in his thoughts. “You get to think when you are driving. I don’t have on the radio or anything like that. When you are driving it’s just you and your thoughts. If I have a project I am working on, I run it through my head…it’s kinda like a meditation for me.”
How they feel about being associated with the Catholic News in its 125th year is, perhaps, best summed up by Peter Lum: “I feel privileged that I am here at this point in time. Catholic News has always been around, and you can take it for granted after a while. Every week you are accustomed to buying a paper and you don’t realise how much it has become a part of your life as a Catholic.”