Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Thank you for being our gentle giant


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The man in the driver’s seat had a huge hand on the steering wheel. The index finger of the other hand rested on his temple while the other fingers were on his mouth and he stared ahead.
“Where to, Miss Connell?” he asked, as I slid into the front seat. I gave an address, but was unsure of the exact location and told him so.
“I think I know where you talking ’bout,” he responded as he clicked his seat into the upright position before starting the vehicle on another journey.
Last week we at THE NATION said a sorrowful goodbye to that driver, our colleague Jeffrey Rock.
Depending on the nature of the assignment, you were glad “Rocky” was at the wheel. Any time any one of us was dispatched to unfriendly territory the cry went up, “Mr Rock around?”
That is not to take anything away from the other drivers. But when we arrived in a hostile environment and Rock slowly emerged from the vehicle with that six-foot, broad frame, bullies trembled. They could not have known that this was our gentle giant “Rocky” or “Big Rock”.
On the road, Rock kept an eye out in case a vital piece of information was missed and he guided the photographer towards a newsworthy picture.
He would check to make sure everything was okay, and implicit in that query was the offer of a listening ear.
In the vehicle we would natter on about our lives, have a good laugh, cry sometimes, all the while believing that all would be well because of the comforting presence of Rock at the wheel.
He shared in the birth of our children, discreetly collecting or dropping them off when the pressures of the long hours at work took over. Rock once rescued a colleague’s grandmother who had fallen at home.
Everyone knew Rock to be a Christian, not because he flaunted it in any offensive way but because he kept striving to live a good life. If, according to Galatians, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are the fruit of the Spirit, then Rock is as close to the grove as you can humanly get. He was by no means perfect but I saw in him the effort to do good.
He kept the confidence of those who dropped their guard while travelling with him and he almost surely ended by letting them know he was praying for them. Praying was his passion. We all feel a little bit more exposed now because of that absence.
What I can claim of Rocky is the Christian connection as there was great rejoicing on his part the day I told him I had become a Christian. Over time our conversations deepened.
The humble man that he was, Rock could not have known he was fulfilling more than his chauffeur duties some days. However, we recognized that he had elevated his profession by his approach to life.
For this I say thank you, Rocky. I also say thanks on behalf of the countless others who do not have a platform such as this to trumpet his good deeds.
To the two other veteran drivers with the Editorial Department, David Brathwaite and Andy Griffith, who helped to shape and grow others, thank you. Thanks to David for his constant smile even in trying times. Thanks to the talented Andy for ensuring a safe trip always.
• Antoinette Connell is the DAILY NATION Editor. Email


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