A distinctly Trini dilemma: scammed by my school

Waking up in a hurry is not one of my strengths as Laurence could tell you. There’s lots of moaning, groaning, dozing, jolting and complaining involved. In between all of that, I start checking my iPhone (bad habit, I know – it prolongs the process!). But yesterday, a Facebook message is what got me out of bed, fully alert and energized with a heady mix of confusion, amusement and righteous anger – make that rage.

The offending article? I found this message in my Facebook inbox:

hi adele congrats on ur wedding u look good. do u remember the trip to norway? well we still owe some $for it and the school board would like u to pay something to lessen the cost”

Sounds like a scammer, right? It’s got all of the characteristics of a scamming message, complete with a total disregard for grammar.

It’s actually a message from a teacher from my secondary school in Trinidad, St Stephen’s College, Princes Town. Now, this is not really aimed at the teacher. I’m sure she’s under pressure from the school board. But to give this context, she’s asking me to “pay something” for a school trip that I took almost a decade ago when I was 16. On Facebook.

Well, I get vex like a Trini one time. The text Laurence get from me was so mash up in dialect, I surprise he even understand what I was saying. If yuh scrunting, ask for ah lil alumni donation or something. Doh come here assuming I have some big setta money to throw away so you could work out someting you shoulda work out nine years ago.

It doesn’t matter how long we live in England, my children will learn some Trini when mama gets mad.

Basically, we weren’t informed of any additional cost we were expected to pay for this trip. This either means: a) it didn’t exist, b) the school intended to subsidize it, in which case they can’t change their minds about that after the fact, or c) the school is so disorganized they took out a loan without working out how to repay it.

My husband thinks it’s hilarious. He calls it a distinctly Caribbean dilemma. “Only in the Windies” were his words.

It’s true. This would never happen up here. This is not to say, that this would happen in every Trini school and I’m sure that Trini readers will be as appalled as I am.

But it’s just so informal, so laid-back, so unmannerly, so outside of any recognisable system that I can’t help but call it a product of cultural or at least infrastructural difference.

I find it funny too but in a tragi-comic way. What I feel is humour laced with disappointment.

So I responded formally, firmly and courteously, asking the school to contact me in the future by post. And I told them just what to do with their unethical, unprofessional and ridiculous request.


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