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​Hot-Wired for Attention

Photos courtesy Mark Lyndersay

My name is Darren Sandy and I believe life is a lesson – so pay attention!

I’m from Plymouth, Tobago, but I was actually born in Trinidad. My mum is from Trinidad. And when her pregnacy was going along apparently kinda rough, she went down by her family, had me and came back.

I’ve never spent a day in Trinidad as a boy. I was literally born there and then spent my entire life in Tobago.

I’m the real definition of Trinbagonian.

Our family only interacted with ourselves with the siblings. I have three sisters I’m the only boy but not the baby boy. I have one sister after me. We were close growing up until probably the later stages of primary school. Well, you know, a boy will be a boy. He can’t stay home and be with the girls all of the time

I would catch car, at a young age, eight or nine, and I would go in Town. Play tennis with the boys in Town, play basketball. From a young age I was independent.

Is only as I got older that I realised what a sacrifice my parents Denzil and Ellen Parris-Sandy made to grow us up.

I’m not married but I have two boys. My first son is 18 my second son is one year. I’m still with the second son’s mum but we not saying we getting married.

I went to Scarbourgh RC. That’s why I could take taxi and reach Town. But I’m not Catholic. I’m Anglican, but not a big practising one. I’m a believer but I don’t go to church as I should. Sometimes I wake up late and our church is very early. It starts at eight o'clock on a Sunday and finish by 10am. So, if you wake up nine o’clock you miss half of church already.

The more the world progresses it seems like it going backward. The things we see today are unimaginable. It’s a topsy-turvy world.

The only thing I can say [to reconcile] the suffering in the world and a caring God is it is just like with your children. You can teach them but, at some time, you need to leave them to be themselves. Sometimes they stray sometimes they stay on the path.

I observe it with my first son: at times, you could tell him but [most times] he had to experience it himself. So that’s why I say life is a lesson. Sometimes you need to experience things to understand.

Probably God is letting the world experience things their way and seeing how it go. But when he’s had enough he’ll say, “All yuh really overdoing it!”Because in the Bible it stated a few times where he intervened.

I couldn’t destroy my own children but I try not to question it too much. Not to the degree that I’m gonna lose sleep about it.

I went to Bishops High School in Tobago. Out of the 80 students that came in that year, 20 came from Scarborough RC alone.The people I was in class with from first year primary school, I was with them right up to 5th form. We stay in contact. Sometimes we might have a games night over the internet.

I went to John D to do a two-year course in triple ET, electronic engineering technician. Port of Spain was a change but it wasn’t a shock to me, being that my mum is from Trinidad. We used to come to Trinidad every holiday. It was just the first time I was there without my parents.

I had some fun but I didn’t go wild in the big city. Because from the parenting I got, I learnt how to not go wild.

I still work in triple ET. I was at Powergen before. And then I came back to Tobago and I got into T&TEC.

When I came back to Tobago, initially I was working with the cable company and then, funny story, they joined the union. And they retrenched everybody who joined the union. They always say there’s a silver lining behind every cloud and I believe that. Because of that, I drove for two or three weeks for a friend and I met a T&TEC crew. And I was watching them and I say, “Like they in my field!” So I asked the foreman, Derek Jack, “So how you does get a work in T&TEC?” He say, “Man, just apply!” I think that was a Thursday. I went home the Thursday, I sent in an application the Friday and they called me the Monday for an interview. That was 2004, 19 years ago.
I believe everything is just perfect timing because, when I got to the interview, it was for tree trimmers. A few of the people who got retrenched with me was there and they went in for a half an hour interview and I say, “What they really asking them men in there?” Men come back out with paper with working and all kinda thing. When I go in, they just ask me, “Okay, so how you go feel if, a day, Tom have a work to do in the middle of Town and they have a cutlass, cutting bush and them girls seeing you, how you go feel?” I say, “I wouldn’t feel anyhow because is the same bush I cutting to get the money they want to spend”. They laugh and interview done. I say, “Nah, boy, I ain’t do no good.” But, by the time I get home, a voicemail was on the machine home to come to work on Thursday.

I did tree trimming for a year and a half. Right now I’m a hot line linesman. It’s extremely dangerous. I work on the high voltage wires system.

In Tobago we are very very very strict on employee safety so we never really had an incident. Whereas in Trinidad they had several incidents, loss of life.

From the time clouds set up you have to stop because, the higher the voltage, the more electricity will jump through the air to make contact. So once it has moisture in the air it will jump on that moisture. So once the place start to feel kinda bleak we have to stop. Because current could jump.

Life is a lesson so pay attention. I don’t know where I got this wisdom.

From the time I start to become an adult, I realise I see things people don’t see. I don’t know why. I’m very observant.

I learn to observe body language. I learn to hear what is not said. I learn somebody says something but they say it in a particular way or a certain word was used and I would understand it in a totally different way. Because people always tell you how they feel, they just don’t say it with their mouth all the time. I’ve learnt a lot by living like that. When you pay attention, you you see a lot more.

I learnt that a lot of people are not happy and they pretend to be. We have a lot of new cars on the road, people buying a lot of nice shiny things. But they are under pressure. And they do it to give a false impression of who they are because they think that status is what defines them.

I’ve seen a lot of people go over and beyond to look a particular way. But when you look at them really and listen to them really, they are under pressure.

When people not saying how they feel to you but you can see how they feel, you would know how to interact with them. Sometimes they want a little encouragement. Sometimes they just want a joke because they down. A lot of people, after I interact with them they would say, “Boy, you know how long I wanted someone to say that?” Or just to be there. You know we have a lot of unhappy people out here.

It’s very, very rare that I feel pressure because I am a problem fixer. If I have an issue, I don’t go down in a moppy-moppy way. Because you don’t know what to do. My mind goes to how can I fix this situation. I try to be positive in every negative.

The best thing about, "Life is a lesson. Pay attention” is it gives you a sense of inner peace. You don’t have to take on the burdens of the world mentally. Because peace of mind is my greatest asset, not money.

The downside is at times, being able to see things people don’t see could come off to some people that you’re insensitive. Because you already focussed on fixing whatever, they will think that you not showing the level of care when you done jump over that.

Lo and behold, the same exact foreman I talked to about getting into T&TEC, was my trainer when I got transferred into the line section. And then that same exact foreman became my foreman after training. So I don’t believe that things would line up so good by itself. I believe there is somebody orchestrating these things. It line up straight as an arrow.

You go anywhere in the world they don’t have to know you, once they hear the accent, all yuh is friends.

A Trinbagonian is love. I see it as love.

In Tobago, is a different level of love. A guy from Trinidad came to Tobago one harvest and he was eating and drinking about three plates of food because he never eat bush meat and thing. So, while we liming, he leans over to my friend and says, “Eh, how we paying for all of this boy?” We start to laugh. It’s harvest. So today he living in Tobago. He came on a contract for three weeks and he never go back.

To me, Trinidad and Tobago means a sense of serenity. I’ve travelled a bit and I haven’t seen anywhere that could make me feel I could leave permanently. Every country has its downfalls but I think we have a lot here and I think we don’t appreciate it enough.