Fifty-one-year-old Spanish Town taxi driver Urel Christie's intuition has helped him to avoid countless dangerous situations in his almost two decades on the streets.
But on one occassion, a few years ago, Christie did not follow “his mind” and found himself in danger.
“I was working for a charter [taxi] company and I answered for a work that was going Jungle (Arnett Gardens, St Andrew) and the guy mek me take three different turn and when me a come back me mek a wrong turn, so me stop at a shop fi ask fi direction. At that point a guy point a gun on me and say, 'p***y give me five bills'. If me did follow me mind me wouldn't answer for that job,” Christie told the Jamaica Observer.
“Me seh to him seh me only have $1,000 [and] me a go buy $800 gas and me a buy one soda now. Me go buy the soda and ask for direction and them say follow anyone of the gullies [because] one end up a Spanish Town Road and one end up a Cross Road,” added Christie.
He said he had to keep his composure when the man pointed the gun at him to show that he wasn't afraid and therefore, reduce his chances of being shot.
The father of two went on to say, “What start run through my mind now is, Jesus Christ me dead yah now because if me give him the money him a go tek the car from me and him a go tek weh the rest a money. Then again now me couldn't mek him see me fear because me know seh bad people work off a fear.
“So, me gwaan like me brave, go back out deh and him have the gun point pan me same way. Me seh to him seh 'you go a church?' Me gwaan like me brave same way and drive off. Him nuh say nothing else to me from me come out of the shop.”
According to Christie, he was shaken by the incident despite the brave front he put up.
“After me reach out a di Texaco Gas Station a New Kingston and a tell the guys, me cya keep me foot one place,” said Christie as he described the nervous tension which he had after his run in with the gunman.
Christie told the Observer that since that incident his wife of 21 years and his children have been worried that he will be harmed while operating his taxi.
“Dem no want me fi drive no car again. Them did want me fi do mason work, but because me did get injured in a taxi work me cya do mason work. A lady did run in a di car back and kind a mess me up bad,” Christie explained as he pointed to an incident last year where he believed he would've been the target of two of his passengers.
Christie said his observant attitude and intuition caused him to realise what the men were planning before they could make a move.
“One sit right here [behind the driver's seat] and one come behind me and when me realised seh them a thief me start to drive very fast because me know seh in order for me to control them, me need to drive fast so that me can jook them with me knife if me need to. Me plan fi push me seat on the one behind me and then jook him,” said Christie.
He noted that he was initially suspicious of the men when they asked if he was heading back in the direction of the Spanish Town Taxi Park from McCooks Pen, and he told them he was going straight to Old Harbour, but they still decided to get in the car.
“That a the first thing mek me suspect them…and how me see the one a look pan me, me seh eeh? So, me start go top speed. Is like him nuh want fi look pan me too much and him a talk to me, and me a seh a bredda yah a move suspicious.
“You know seh everybody have on mask and the one round a back now me a look round deh pan him and him a look look pan me and me a say to myself, 'Jesus Christ, something wrong now',” added Christie.
He said after the men asked for a sudden stop and hastily exited his vehicle, the only female in the car agreed that she did not trust them either.
“So, me stop and ready fi move off and them tell me seh them never have no fare. Me mind just tell me seh them did up to something from them come in the car.”
And despite the men not paying the $200 each for the ride, he said he didn't bother to make a fuss, instead thinking that the $400 he lost was not worth getting injured over, or possibly losing his life.
Name: Urel Christie
Length of career: 18 years
Route: Old Harbour to Spanish Town, St Catherine