“Good Afternoon! We just arrived in town and I was hoping you might be able to help us find a driver for our time here?,” I said to Joyce Ann who was working the hotel’s front desk. At 11 a.m. she rang our room to say our driver had arrived. As is almost always true in Barbados, we were met with a warm smile and an open door. Stephen was no ordinary cab driver. Nope! Stephen is an Entrepreneur who delights in providing his clients with the best service possible. It starts with his immaculate ride! His car is pristine inside and out. There was nothing short of certainty regarding the pride he took in his business. Stephen wakes at 4:30 a.m. every morning to enjoy his coffee, followed by a workout and a daily bath for his car, all before beginning his on-call, 24-7 business. He drives his lovely bride to and from work every day and attends church on Sundays. Stephen was happy to offer his services for the week and negotiated a fair price. (ok… well I may have overpaid a bit but I can assure you I didn’t mind) After the cleanliness of his car and the professionalism of his service, I noticed his attention to detail. At our first stop, he accompanied us inside to speak with the establishment to ensure he would be back to retrieve us at right time. When our day was finished, there was Stephan waiting as a trusted friend would. We talked on our ride back about dinner for the evening. I mentioned that Oistins had been recommended to us. Turns out Stephen is a foodie at heart! His face lights up as he describes the various foods, especially the fruits, that one can feast upon while in Barbados. I had no idea there are so many ways to prepare breadfruit! Frankly, I only learned of breadfruit this summer! This is not really something you mention in the islands though. It's kinda like having 3 eyes! In any event, when we arrived at Oistins, I realized it was not a restaurant as I had thought but a village that housed an open-air-market of numerous vendors and a VERY FRESH fish! Uncle George’s was the spot our foodie driver selected for us to dine. Upon arrival at Uncle Georges, we were greeted by a server, curbside, who then took us to our table followed by a short walk out to see the dolphin fish we would be having for dinner, LITERALLY! That fish was still wet! I could almost hear it say “Oh Please, Please, don’t pick me!” OMGosh! What makes all of this so special, is that Stephen had called them after he dropped us at our hotel, to arrange first class attention from the staff at Uncle Georges, even instructing them to call him when we were ready to depart. Again he walked us to the curb and made sure our server knew to take care of us. Keep in mind, we did not hire him as a private driver, only a driver that we could count on to retrieve us when needed. On a side note..if you ever do happen to eat at Uncle Georges, share a plate with someone because they are not stingy with the servings.
On our last day, Stephen gave us private island tour. He shared his love and passion for his home, all the while continuing to go above and beyond to make us feel like old friends. The icing on the top was when I received a phone call at 9:30 p.m. that evening. You see, I had been in search of Salomon Gundi to bring home but had been unable to locate it. Stephen called to say that he went to 3 stores near his home and also had not been successful in the mission. Who does that, Really? Stephen is just another taxi driver in Barbados. If that’s what you see, then you haven't seen Stephen. He is a great man among men. He overcame and now gives to all without expectation. He will forever be called my friend!
My interview with Stephen
Me: What is love?
“Love is sharing, caring, giving a bunch of things you can do for one another. Love depends on loyalty. Love is joy. Two people who have good communication and are willing to share; to be honest with one another.”
Me: Where are you from?
“I am from Barbados, in the Parish of St. John.”
Me: Are you married?
“I am married to Sharon Small.”
(You can always tell a man in love with his wife when you see the light come on in his eyes as he speaks her name! He is crazy about his girl)
Me: Do you have children?
“Yes! I have 5! My children are Shamika aged 29, Jade aged 25, Sanchea aged 19, Kuane` aged 15, and Siarah aged 10. My two oldest are by another Mum.”
(Suddenly there is a sadness in his voice, hmmm I wonder why?)
Me: What are you most proud of:
“My oldest 2 children and my wife. The way my wife looks after our children. I love how she is with all of them but especially the two that are not even hers. They even call her Mum. I am just so proud of how my oldest children and my wife have handled things and are together.”
(Step-parents have the toughest of all parenting jobs but what everyone always forgets is how special the love of a step-parent is for it is a love that one chooses to give)
Me: What is your biggest regret?
“Hmmm these are tough questions! I am Christian today but I wasn’t always. I think my biggest regrets are the past mistakes that I made because I didn’t give my life to Christ sooner.”
(I wish I had a dime for every time I too had shared that regret or heard others say the same thing)
Me: What is #1 on your Bucket-List?
I wish to take my family of 7, on a really nice family holiday. Maybe on a cruise around the islands, or to visit Toronto!!! I hear Toronto is realllllyyyy nice. Yes! I would like that very much.
Me: WHAT? That is so very doable. Your dream only requires a budget. Stephen all you need to do is figure the average cost for this trip for all of you, (I'm guessing about $8,000 if you are careful and plan well) then pay your taxes and tithe if you tithe, next pay yourself even if its only what seems like a little bit. Find all the things you can do without. Then do without them by putting the money you would have paid for them, in a Bucket-list jar or account. Ask your 3 older children and your wife to all contribute as they are able. You can have this and frankly, you are a person who is so deserving of realizing this dream.
(Here I am in Barbados for the 2nd time in 3 weeks, as the mother of 2 children who travel endlessly, and I am speaking to a man who works tirelessly driving strangers to and fro, 7 days a week and his dreams are so simple in nature. Every family I know has taken a vacation, has traveled, has experienced some other part of the world. I am feeling embarrassed, with a bit of shame all wrapped up in immense gratitude for the blessings I have. I so wish to help Stephan realize his dream. Maybe I'll start a “go fund me” for him!)
Me: If you could re-live any day, positive or negative, what day would it be and why?
Without even a moment of hesitation, he said, My Wedding Day! It was so memorable and so special, having the support of friends and family. Everything was perfect, no hiccups. My bride was so beautiful. If I had to marry her again, I would!
(How incredible that Joy who is now divorced and Stephen who is happily married both have the same answer to this question. I wonder how many others will want to re-live a day that includes the purpose of love for another.)
Me: What bothers you most about the human race?
What I think a lot of us miss, is that at one point in time, all of us were in-bonded in slavery. The way that people who are not in-bonded any longer treat each other - like we were all negros, none better than the other - all people are on the same level. People used to share what they have like fruit from their trees. But now they would rather the fruit drop and spoil than to share it with their neighbor. People are just being selfish and it's really really sad to see.
(He is speaking of the people on the island I believe, but really he is speaking for a globe full of people who all suffer from Me-itis. I remember times when villages raised kids, neighbors helped neighbors, strangers greeted one another, a kindness that once existed, one we can have again if each person simply chooses to be kind without exception.)
Me: Do you know GOD?
YES! I DO!!!