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Crippled, but not dead

Disabled man washes cars for a living

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 20, 2014    

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IF there were a poster child for determination, it would 45-year-old Peter Plummer.

Shot, robbed and left for dead: That was his experience in 1998 when he was held up by gunmen as he operated his taxi in Eastwood Park, St Andrew.

"I was operating a taxi service in that area when two men took my car and held me up at gun point," Plummer told the Jamaica Observer.

The incident left him battling in hospital for several months and "it was from there things started to go downhill".

"It was a case where many of my closest friends had given up on me as they thought that was the end of the road for me," Plummer said.

When they learned he was not dead, hope lingered a while longer. But that hope would begin to fade when the friends learned that Plummer would never walk again; the bullet from the attacker's gun had shattered his spine.

"They stayed around me for a few months, but then they all left," said Plummer.

The loss of his friends was perhaps the least of his worries, for with the loss of his taxi and his independent mobility came a host of other problems, not least of which was an inability to earn.

"Mi lose the only way I could earn when dem rob me of mi car; mi get throw out of my house that I use to pay rent (for)," said Plummer.

The circumstances forced him to move back home with his parents in Stony Hill.

Now, after several attempts to secure employment, the man, who is confined to a wheel chair, has found a job washing cars in the Constant Spring Road area. It doesn't pay much, but he has managed to begin constructing a two-bedroom concrete structure on lands close to his parents' house. It is now 65 per cent complete, Plummer said.

"I am facing a little challenge with purchasing the other building materials, but I will continue to keep strong," said Plummer, who has vowed to continue washing cars to earn an income.

"Things are really rough. Many of the things people take for granted I have to work extra hard to do, but my philosophy is to never give up," said Plummer.

As the Observer walked towards him yesterday, he attempted to complete washing a vehicle, a task from which he had paused earlier. As he did so, the bucket of water fell over, but instead of getting frustrated, Plummer simply waited until someone was passing and asked for help.

"When things like this happen I try to take it in stride. I will not give the devil recognition by getting angry because in whatever happens God is always there in my chair with me," said Plummer.

But the challenge of washing vehicles from a wheelchair is just the tip of the iceberg where Plummer's problems are concerned.

He explains that because of his disability he is forced to travel miles in his wheel chair to get from Stony Hill to other locations.

"The taxi or bus operators they don't want to carry me so many occasions I am forced to travel from as far as Stony Hill to downtown Kingston," he told the Observer.

The straight-line distance between Stony Hill Road and Half-Way-Tree is some eight kilometres, but given the meanders of the road it could take up to 15 minutes.

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