Born to do ‘unusual things’
High-school dropout building ‘bicycle-bikes’ and self-belief
When Roy Gray was a young boy, he recalls how ‘a feeling of greatness’ washed over him, igniting in him an interest in mechanics and later revealing a passion for inventiveness.
The 21-year-old, who resides in Greenhill, St Ann, has gained recognition on social media for transforming a bicycle into what he calls a ‘bicycle-bike’.
In an interview with The Gleaner on Saturday, he revealed that he had constructed eight of them, the first of which was powered using a leaf blower two-stroke engine.
But, with neither formal training nor having participated in an apprenticeship, Gray emphasised how his skills simply manifested themselves.
“I would say it’s a gift, because I have this trade and never go school, and me just get up [and have it]. It kinda sound weird, it kinda sound unbelievable, and if you don’t know me you wouldn’t believe me. Me just nuh know weh me get it from, but me can do it,” he explained.
“Me always did feel different growing up as a child... . Is like me born fi do some unusual things, [and I] always had some ideas to build things,” he said.
He went on to say that, as a child, he fantasised about owning his own bicycle, just like his peers did.
However, Gray faced numerous difficulties throughout his life, including financial hardship, all of which culminated in his dropping out of Brown’s Town High School at age 15.
Abandoned by his parents
Living on his own for eight years now, Gray has endured a life filled with moving from place to place, after being abandoned by his parents at a tender age because they could not adequately care for him.
He is the fifth of six children.
By age 17, Gray built his first bicycle-bike.
“One day me go buy one bicycle and, after me come back in with the bicycle, the following evening me deh deh a examine the bicycle and is like all of them [childhood] thoughts deh just start come back to me brain,” he explained.
He continued, saying that, shortly after falling asleep, he woke up in the middle of the night from a dream in which he saw himself assembling everything needed to transform the bicycle into a motorbike.
After he acquired the necessary parts for the job, his mechanical work paid off in creating the bicycle-bike so that it would operate without the need for pedalling.
“Is like in the morning me wake up and me just feel happy,” he said in recollecting his first creation, which was built solely for the purpose of transportation in his community.
Gray added that he believes that anything he sets his mind on building, he will be able to achieve it with this gift.
“I just need some cash to get the components that I need, and from there I’ll ask for assistance [in getting into programmes],” he said, such as getting his Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects and eventually enrolling in HEART NSTA/Trust mechanical engineering programmes.
Along with overcoming his childhood traumas and battles with mental health conditions, including depression and low self-esteem, one of his future ambitions is to be able to generate stable income to sustain himself.
Gray stated that he frequently considers himself a failure because of his impoverished upbringing and absence of a secondary education. He said that, as a result, he often loses inspiration and motivation.
Currently, Gray works as a mechanic where he fixes small engines such as those for chainsaws, weed wackers, pressure washers, generators and motorcycles.
Despite his daily challenges, he remains hopeful that one day he’ll be able to actualise his dream and to further develop his skills to help contribute to Jamaica.
Persons interested in offering assistance to Roy Gray may contact him at 876-343-8389.