(Last Monday's Tobago Peeps article. I post them to the blog a week after publication in the Trinidad Guardian):
As I'm leaving the gas station, I notice DOH STUDY IT scrawled across the back windscreen of the dark grey Hilux in front of me.
I look to my right to see what vehicles are coming and my eyes meet the message on the front windscreen of the car heading my way: TOO BLES (one S missing) TO BE STRESS.
I swing my vehicle out and head in the direction of the highway, stopping at the traffic lights. The wording on the car coming from the right advises FEAR NOT.
Moments later, on the highway heading west, I pass a car turning right at Signal Hill. On the back windscreen, written in rasta-coloured letters sandwiched between stickers of two praying hands, is: IN GOD WE TRUST.
Clearly a message is being delivered today via these consecutive nuggets of vehicular wisdom.
Messages on the windscreens of vehicles in Trinidad and Tobago are a common and thought provoking sight. Drivers' reasons for choosing particular words and phrases (and commuters' interpretations of them) vary widely. Whether clear or obscure, the only way to find out what these 'signs' mean to each driver is to ask (as I do on occasion).
IT DOESN'T MATTER. WHO VEX LOSS.
Days later, as I drive past the NP gas station in Scarborough, I see a silver station wagon parked to the front of the compound. The windscreen announces in capital letters: IN GOD WE TRUST. This phrase is a popular one.
I pull in to the gas station, park a few metres behind the car and observe large letters emblazoned across the back windscreen:
TIK GAL. SOCA. FAT SAUCE.
Interesting contrast to the frontal message. All the more reason to speak with the driver.
The vehicle doesn't belong to any of the men standing around the gas pumps. They direct me inside to a young woman sitting behind the counter. She nods. Yes, the car belongs to her.
"People must be wonder what kind of stupidness on the back of my car," she says. "But they is nicknames. I am Tik Gal. My mother is Soca. My sister is Fat Sauce."
And how does that connect with the front windscreen?
"It's my mother who made me put 'In God We Trust' on the front."
No need to explain. The love of a mother, putting her trust in God in front, for her daughter's safety.
Later ... DR. SCOOB D BILLIONAIRE cruises by at an intersection.
GOD IS MY CONQUEROR follows.
As we are all in motion, I can't stop to talk with these drivers. My next opportunity comes via a newly painted blue flat bed truck parked near the Esplanade in Scarborough.
BUY THE TRUTH AND SELL IT NOT. Proverbs 23:23
I pull into the empty parking space near to the truck. The middle-aged male driver is happy to explain the proclamation which, before committing it to his windscreen, he used to print and offer to the public every Christmas, asking them to put it at the top of their list.
"When Panday got into office and became Prime Minister, UWI offered a twelve point plan to solve crime. But from that year, crime rose!" he tells me. "That text is God offering a four point crime plan: TRUTH. WISDOM. INSTRUCTION. UNDERSTANDING."
He takes a brown, dog-eared Bible from the glove compartment and asks if he may read me two passages. As he simply wishes to share a perspective, I listen.
"It's not only about knowing the Truth," he tells me after. "It's about having the Wisdom to apply it. Remember that."