Sydney must have spied me trying to contort my body into a sleep-worthy position. He made his way over to me. “Dis Greyhound is crazy mon,” he said. “They are bad people.” I liked him immediately.
We spent two hours chatting about everything from American politics to goat farming. He came to the United States from Kingston 16 years ago after an armed intruder broke into his house and shot him in the chest. Things were bad in Jamaica. Police and government corruption made it impossible to find justice and heavily populated cities like Kingston became increasingly dangerous.
So, Sydney left for New York City, where he had some distant relatives. His wife stayed to manage the small farm they owned, waiting for Sydney to get settled and make some money before calling her to join him. I asked how long it took before he went back to get his wife. With a wide, infectious grin, he said: “Couple of years, mon. But she already sold the farm, the animals and my tools and ran off with my best friend. I guess she didn’t want to wait.”
Fortunately, Sydney was a master welder, so he was able to find good work in the booming New York construction business. He became a U.S. citizen in 2009. Several years ago, he met and fell in love with a woman from South Carolina, eventually settling in Buefort. He’s saved up enough money and is about to invest to start raising goats. “Goat meat gonna be the new beef,” he says, trying to convince someone who tasted and rejected goat after a visit to Jamaica many years ago.
Sydney is a beautiful soul, curious and opinionated. Regardless of the topic, he would stop, touch my arm and ask: “What you think about dat, mon?” I ask if he might ever return to Jamaica. He waves me off. “Jamaica more beautiful than America, more green,” he says. “But too corrupt. I love America.”
He gave me the opening to ask whom he would vote for in the next Presidential election, even though I was 100% certain of his answer. Without hesitation, he said: “Mrs. Clinton, must be President. She’s a good person like her husband.”
After two hours, we shook hands, promising ourselves and each other that we’d try to get some sleep. He stopped me, grabbed my arm one more time. “You like Bob Marley, mon?” he asked. Before I could answer in the affirmative, he said: “You listen closely. He the prophet everyone waiting for.” He smiled and walked away.
And yes, neither one of us slept.