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  • Jason Inanga

Jason's Jive: January 2019

Writing a column is a lot of fun, especially when you get feedback from the readers. So to my reader Yolanda, who was kind enough to tell me she enjoys reading “Jason’s Jive,” thank you for the feedback; it keeps me motivated.

Travel! A lot of us like to travel and explore places, and I am one of those people. Talking to Yolanda, I realized it would be nice to write on this topic. Having lived half my life in Nigeria and the other half on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, I have seen the best of two continents. I would love to travel to Asia and Australia, but I don’t think I can handle those long flights. I know some of you do these trips two or three times or more a year. I don’t know how you cope. With my height (6 feet, 2 inches), there is not much legroom for me, so the long flights can be uncomfortable.

I love traveling to Canada from Maryland. I have cousins there, and my wife has siblings in Toronto. It typically takes us close to ten hours driving across from Beltsville to Toronto (York). If you have not done this drive, you should. It can be a very scenic drive, depending on the route you take, and of course, when you get into Buffalo and approach Niagara Falls, you are greeted by one of the wonders of nature. On my next road trip, I will probably blog the drive and share some of my experiences with you.

However, within Beltsville, I love to take nature walks. There is so much to see and explore. Driving past, we take a lot for granted. I enjoy seeing the squirrels run past and stare at me (always wish I could figure out what they think when they see us humans). One of my favorite trails is the short walk from the Beltsville Community Center on Sellman Road, crossing the footbridge, attempting to do some of the physio machines on the trail, and ultimately ending up by the stream or brook looking at the fish as they swim up and down, sometimes throwing a rock over the surface of the water or just jumping from rock to rock as I used to do as a kid.

Childhood days were fun, and I am sure a lot of you can relate to what I am about to type. We had nothing much on television, so our playground was the trees and open fields. We would climb trees for fun and go through the neighborhood picking fruits off trees. Fun times! If a neighbor had dogs, we would break up into two or three groups. One set would distract the dogs while the rest of us would go up in the trees to pick the fruit. When I was growing up on the University of Ibadan campus in Nigeria, all the fruit trees technically belonged to us the kids in the section of the university where we lived.

Our main sport was soccer, and the unofficial stadium was the lawns of Professor FMA Ukoli, a professor of zoology whose son, Robert, was a legend of our times on his bicycle always performing stunts. He also had a ten-speed bike, the only one around at the time. The rest of us rode Choppers or Grifters. (Let me throw this out there—Chinedu Echeruo, founder of App Hop Stop that was bought by Apple, grew up next to the Ukoli’s if my memory serves me right. On Sankore Avenue opposite them was Professor Tam David-West, a virology professor who would go on to become a federal minister of petroleum under the regime of then General Muhammadu Buhari.) Sade, the Grammy-winning artiste, also grew up down the road from us. We lived on one end of Saunders Road, and she and her parents lived in the second block of flats at the start of Saunders Road. She was a few years older and nothing special at the time—she was the daughter of Professor Adu (he was just a young lecturer at the time, like the rest of our parents). Their flat was later occupied by Mr. Lester Henry, a senior lecturer of Irish descent in the Department of Classics.

And then there is Marcus, a close childhood friend who rode a bicycle a few years ago, from the west coast of Canada to the east coast. We were best friends growing up in Nigeria (his dad is Nigerian and mother Canadian). When we saw each other by default in Toronto (2015), it was the first meeting in person since 1982. I will share highlights of his experience with you in 2019. I hope I can finish writing a book for him on his experience. Trust me: he has some interesting stories.

As I tell folk, be respectful to the police and appreciate what they have to deal with. As long as you have not broken any law, you have no need be worried. Even this month when I was pulled over on Route 29 South with my last two children in the car, the Montgomery County Officer was cool. He was very professional, and as I explained to my children, the stop went well because, in my opinion, I made the officer comfortable. He could see I was in my FedEx Express uniform, my hands were on the steering wheel, my windows were down so he could see inside, and my inner lights were on. He asked if I know why I had been pulled over, to which I replied, no. He said I was driving the limit, and that when he changed lanes and got behind me, I eventually took off and hit 80 mph. I apologized and explained to him that I did not realize I had done that. I apologized for wasting his time. He asked for my license, and I told him it was inside my jacket and asked for permission to take my hands off the wheel and get it. He gave me the okay, took one look at it, and then asked me to be careful. He said hi to the kids and was on his way.

My 13-year-old daughter was in the back seat, and I explained to her what had just happened and went on to tell her that the stop went well because I did not try to challenge the officer or waste his time. I also told her that when she starts driving that she needs to be able to conduct herself in a respectable manner and also respect authority. I think I will speak with my friends at Prince George’s Police District VI on this issue for “Jason’s Jive” in 2019. Let them guide us on the proper way to go about a traffic stop.

Let me wind this “Jive” up. Happy New Year to you, my dear reader, and may you have a prosperous 2019. Please be safe, stay healthy, and be nice to those you meet along the way.

It has been fun writing for The Beltsville News, and I am hopeful in 2019 I will be able to feature a lot more of the community in the paper. In 2019, look for features on local businesses.

To Rick and the other staff at The Beltsville News, thank you for the opportunity to write once again. Happy New Year to you and your respective families. Dear reader, be safe until the next “Jive.”

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