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.


  1. Arielane
    February 24, 2011 / 10:32 am

    O gorm, my ma say ‘cuz we living in England, we have money to bun’ and ‘nine years is ’nuff time for alyuh pass students to make money to pay them’.
    Your readers coming by today to hear about the creature, they’ll die laughing. xxxx

  2. Kai
    February 24, 2011 / 12:55 pm

    I love the reaction, lol. I was pissed when she asked me in person. I was ill…had gastroenteritis and just went with my mom to drop my brother to school then go to the doctor when i just saw her and called out to her to say hi. She started telling me about money owed for Norway and if I could pay anything. I just told her that my father paid everything for me 9 years ago and left it at that.

    Read my reply to ur FB message tho. They have no right or reason to be asking us for this now.

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  4. Adele
    February 24, 2011 / 3:57 pm

    I fully intend to ignore it from now on. I’m hoping this post has got the poison out of my system – I have a tendency to get all Greenberg about stuff like this.

  5. Gerard
    February 24, 2011 / 4:28 pm

    *shows you love*

    This smells fishy either way. Which makes it even worse if it is ‘legit’. That’s some real low-class, backwards, uncouth kinda business there. A DECADE AGO!?!?!???! REALLY!?

    I’m interested in hearing why it would never happen in England/UK tho.

  6. Adele
    February 24, 2011 / 4:35 pm

    Schools have a very “official” way of doing things here. Everything has paperwork attached.

  7. February 24, 2011 / 8:26 pm

    But this is a country school at heart. Some stereotypes echo truth.

    I feel I can make this comment because I attended the same school for 7 years.

  8. Ana
    February 24, 2011 / 10:33 pm

    They too ridiculous but rem these were the ppl who thought green in the hair went with the blue skirt!

  9. February 25, 2011 / 10:26 am

    You sound like a lady not to be messed with when cross. Please can you teach me how to be angry properly? I get no respect in my house – apparently because I turn into one of the Wurzels when I’m pissed off. The distinct Bristolian twang comes out in all its glory. Maybe I need to learn me some Trini?

  10. Adele
    February 25, 2011 / 11:32 am

    Do you still live in Bristol, out of interest? I’m not sure it works because my husband finds it funny when I start getting angry in Trini – as long as it’s not at him!

  11. February 25, 2011 / 8:21 pm

    Oh goooooood, fuh real? Dey mad in dey tail or what? Makes me wanna cry with laughter or just shake my head in depressed recognition of wotlessness and disorganisation!
    (Mr G loves it when I go all Trini vex – he even has started taking on some ole talk!)

  12. Anonymous
    February 27, 2011 / 11:11 pm

    The text in dialect she sent me was very, very funny…

  13. Laurence
    February 27, 2011 / 11:12 pm

    The text she sent me in Trini dialect was very funny

  14. February 28, 2011 / 12:23 pm

    The only reason it would never happen in England is because they would make damn sure they got the cash before they let you go on the trip in the first place!

  15. February 28, 2011 / 1:04 pm

    Very true, Helen. Though, in fact, I already paid in full at the time, which means they’re actually asking for more money.

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