Things that make you say, “Only in T&T”

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You’ve heard the expression a thousand times: “Only in Trinidad (and Tobago) yuh go find (insert thing you only find in Trinidad and Tobago) yuh know!”
Okay, admittedly, that was a little convoluted, but you get the idea. Every country has its little idiosyncrasies that contribute to its mood and tone – the cultural norms that weave together so brilliantly, that to be outside them makes you conspicuous.
For Trinidad and Tobago, there are many of these. With a culture as vibrant as ours, how could there not be? There are so many things that we take for granted, as being part of regular life, when in fact doing them outside of a Trinbagonian context would make us the receiver of questioning stares (I know. I’ve been there). These are just a few of the things that particularly amuse or infuriate me.
Only in Trinidad and Tobago:
Everyone has two (or more), personal cell phones
For years, TSTT GSM/ bmobile had the monopoly on telecommunications. Then, Digicel arrived to break up the monotony. Now that’s great. I personally stuck to bmobile because at 15 years old, I didn’t have the option to simply get a new phone; but I know a number of people who switched and were pleased.
However, the VAST MAJORITY of Trinbagonians, instead of making a choice, decided to have their cake and eat it too. The number of people I know with several phones and sim cards is ridiculous. Now, this “two-phone syndrome” may have worn off since then, and yes, I know some places you’d get reception better, but still… it was becoming a sort of joke.
In the US, there are too many networks to count, but you don’t see Americans toting around six cell phones! Instead, you see each network trying to outperform the other, giving the consumers more choices and possibilities for their preference on what kind of coverage they want. That’s what should have happened in Trinidad and Tobago, but well, this is Trinidad and Tobago. There is no reason to make a choice unless you absolutely have to.
Heavy rain is an excuse to miss work
I won’t even lie; I’ve used this excuse. I have. You know you have too. The thing is, sometimes the excuse is legitimate. Not all areas of Trinidad have sufficient drainage to handle the heavy rainfall that we can get sometimes. Inevitably, that means flooding, cars stuck in the street, and people unable to get transport. And I get it.
However, in Boston, where I’m studying, it snows all day. Every day. Okay, not really, but I did almost transfer during my first year because the winters were so horrendous. But there are no excuses. We always have class. I’ve been woken up numerous times by snowploughs getting down to business at five in the morning. In my three years at Boston University, I’ve had exactly one snow day. And it didn’t even snow.
But let’s be real. In T&T, you know you woke up one morning, and it was raining heavily, and you decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle of getting ready that day. Rainy days are “warm sheets and a good book” days. Not “sit in traffic and worry about getting stuck on the highway” days.
In the US, the weather is no excuse for staying home from work. It might even cost you your job. In Trinidad and Tobago? Well, there’s a reason we still use it as a legitimate excuse.
Heavy boots in hot weather
I recently had a discussion with an intercultural communications professor at UWI about this very thing. Why the (insert cuss word) yuh want to wear fur boots in 30-degree weather?
Having been in Boston for the last three years, and getting a little more exposure to US fashion, I understand that we want to emulate what we see. I have a pair of fur boots, a leather jacket, and several scarves. But you want to know where they are? In storage in Boston. Why? Because I am in Trinidad, and Trinidad is hot, meaning it is inappropriate weather for those particular items of clothing. And you want to know where my US friends’ boots and jacket are? Also in storage. Because it’s the summer, that is… inappropriate weather for those particular items of clothing.
There is a reason that the fashion turnover rate is so high in the US and Europe. It’s because they actually have seasons, and they need clothing to keep up with the changing weather. We don’t have that. Hence the minimal market for fur boots in Trinidad and Tobago.
Now I’m not saying that your boots don’t look good. They probably do. If it’s one thing Trinis have, it’s style. But it doesn’t matter how amazing your boots look, you still look like an ass. No style is worth getting heat stroke over.
Just saying.
5 p.m. means 7.30 p.m.
Well I don’t even think I need to elaborate on this one, do I? Whether we’re part of the “I’ll get there or get it done eventually” crowd or the “Where the (insert cuss word) is so-and-so” crowd, we’ve all experienced Trini time. I was even weeks late submitting this article to the Outlish editors (while the editor said, “Where the (insert cuss word) is Catherine).
None of us are immune.
Salespeople don’t want your money
I saved this one for last because I suspected that I might rant a bit. To say that service is poor in this country is the understatement of the century. I firmly believe that if every salesperson worked on commission, we’d all get better service. Mark my words. We need to give them a slightly better incentive to actually do their jobs.
And it’s not to say that there aren’t those people who do their jobs well. I’m always surprised when I come across someone who is genuinely kind and affable and tries to assist me with whatever it is that I need that day. My mother is famous for taking time out to speak to a manager about particularly polite employees. But that kind of behaviour shouldn’t have to be rewarded; it should be expected. In any case, the number of times I have nearly lost it in a store is ridiculous.
The other day I went to the Pennywise Superstore in Trincity Mall with my brother to pick up some locking gel. When I got to the counter and asked for it, the woman gave me a brand I don’t usually use. So, naturally, I asked if she had my regular brand. She said no.
Now, that day, they had gotten a new shipment of stuff to the store and were in the process of unpacking everything when we walked in. Recognizing that, I asked her if she was sure they didn’t have it (Assuming she would say something along the lines of, “Well I can double check for you if you’d like, but I pretty sure we don’t have it”, or “We’re getting some more next week” or even “We don’t carry that product, but you can try XYZ”). Instead, I got level cut-eye and a harsh “NO!” as in, “I didn’t jus’ tell yuh we doh have it?”
Well of course I just watched my brother and laughed. Then I left and took my money elsewhere… because believe me, I don’t have so much money that I am going to ‘fight down’ anybody to take it from me. You don’t want my money? Scene. I won’t give it to you. Not a problem.
What I will never understand is the general attitude of people in the service industry that customers are a nuisance only to be dealt with, if absolutely necessary. Trust… my money is what keeps your business open and you employed! According to Rachel Price, “If yuh doh like yuh wuk, go home!”
In any case, between the good and the bad, there are tonnes of things that make this country unique.  Whether they make you mad, keep you amused or don’t affect you at all, you can’t deny that they’re all part of what makes Trinidad and Tobago so special, and the place that we all call home.

You’ve heard the expression a thousand times: “Only in Trinidad (and Tobago) yuh go find (insert thing you only find in Trinidad and Tobago) yuh know!”

Okay, admittedly, that was a little convoluted, but you get the idea. Every country has its little idiosyncrasies that contribute to its mood and tone – the cultural norms that weave together so brilliantly, that to be outside them makes you conspicuous.

For Trinidad and Tobago, there are many of these. With a culture as vibrant as ours, how could there not be? There are so many things that we take for granted, as being part of regular life, when in fact doing them outside of a Trinbagonian context would make us the receiver of questioning stares (I know. I’ve been there). These are just a few of the things that particularly amuse or infuriate me.

Only in Trinidad and Tobago:

Everyone has two (or more), personal cell phones

For years, TSTT GSM/ bmobile had the monopoly on telecommunications. Then, Digicel arrived to break up the monotony. Now that’s great. I personally stuck to bmobile because at 15 years old, I didn’t have the option to simply get a new phone; but I know a number of people who switched and were pleased.

However, the VAST MAJORITY of Trinbagonians, instead of making a choice, decided to have their cake and eat it too. The number of people I know with several phones and sim cards is ridiculous. Now, this “two-phone syndrome” may have worn off since then, and yes, I know some places you’d get reception better, but still… it was becoming a sort of joke.

In the US, there are too many networks to count, but you don’t see Americans toting around six cell phones! Instead, you see each network trying to outperform the other, giving the consumers more choices and possibilities for their preference on what kind of coverage they want. That’s what should have happened in Trinidad and Tobago, but well, this is Trinidad and Tobago. There is no reason to make a choice unless you absolutely have to.

Heavy rain is an excuse to miss work

I won’t even lie; I’ve used this excuse. I have. You know you have too. The thing is, sometimes the excuse is legitimate. Not all areas of Trinidad have sufficient drainage to handle the heavy rainfall that we can get sometimes. Inevitably, that means flooding, cars stuck in the street, and people unable to get transport. And I get it.

However, in Boston, where I’m studying, it snows all day. Every day. Okay, not really, but I did almost transfer during my first year because the winters were so horrendous. But there are no excuses. We always have class. I’ve been woken up numerous times by snowploughs getting down to business at five in the morning. In my three years at Boston University, I’ve had exactly one snow day. And it didn’t even snow.

But let’s be real. In T&T, you know you woke up one morning, and it was raining heavily, and you decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle of getting ready that day. Rainy days are “warm sheets and a good book” days. Not “sit in traffic and worry about getting stuck on the highway” days.

In the US, the weather is no excuse for staying home from work. It might even cost you your job. In Trinidad and Tobago? Well, there’s a reason we still use it as a legitimate excuse.

Heavy boots in hot weather

I recently had a discussion with an intercultural communications professor at UWI about this very thing. Why the (insert cuss word) yuh want to wear fur boots in 30-degree weather?

Having been in Boston for the last three years, and getting a little more exposure to US fashion, I understand that we want to emulate what we see. I have a pair of fur boots, a leather jacket, and several scarves. But you want to know where they are? In storage in Boston. Why? Because I am in Trinidad, and Trinidad is hot, meaning it is inappropriate weather for those particular items of clothing. And you want to know where my US friends’ boots and jacket are? Also in storage. Because it’s the summer, that is… inappropriate weather for those particular items of clothing.

There is a reason that the fashion turnover rate is so high in the US and Europe. It’s because they actually have seasons, and they need clothing to keep up with the changing weather. We don’t have that. Hence the minimal market for fur boots in Trinidad and Tobago.

Now I’m not saying that your boots don’t look good. They probably do. If it’s one thing Trinis have, it’s style. But it doesn’t matter how amazing your boots look, you still look like an ass. No style is worth getting heat stroke over.

Just saying.

5 p.m. means 7.30 p.m.

Well I don’t even think I need to elaborate on this one, do I? Whether we’re part of the “I’ll get there or get it done eventually” crowd or the “Where the (insert cuss word) is so-and-so” crowd, we’ve all experienced Trini time. I was even weeks late submitting this article to the Outlish editors (while the editor said, “Where the (insert cuss word) is Catherine).

None of us are immune.

Salespeople don’t want your money

I saved this one for last because I suspected that I might rant a bit. To say that service is poor in this country is the understatement of the century. I firmly believe that if every salesperson worked on commission, we’d all get better service. Mark my words. We need to give them a slightly better incentive to actually do their jobs.

And it’s not to say that there aren’t those people who do their jobs well. I’m always surprised when I come across someone who is genuinely kind and affable and tries to assist me with whatever it is that I need that day. My mother is famous for taking time out to speak to a manager about particularly polite employees. But that kind of behaviour shouldn’t have to be rewarded; it should be expected. In any case, the number of times I have nearly lost it in a store is ridiculous.

The other day I went to the Pennywise Superstore in Trincity Mall with my brother to pick up some locking gel. When I got to the counter and asked for it, the woman gave me a brand I don’t usually use. So, naturally, I asked if she had my regular brand. She said no.

Now, that day, they had gotten a new shipment of stuff to the store and were in the process of unpacking everything when we walked in. Recognizing that, I asked her if she was sure they didn’t have it (Assuming she would say something along the lines of, “Well I can double check for you if you’d like, but I pretty sure we don’t have it”, or “We’re getting some more next week” or even “We don’t carry that product, but you can try XYZ”). Instead, I got level cut-eye and a harsh “NO!” as in, “I didn’t jus’ tell yuh we doh have it?”

Well of course I just watched my brother and laughed. Then I left and took my money elsewhere… because believe me, I don’t have so much money that I am going to ‘fight down’ anybody to take it from me. You don’t want my money? Scene. I won’t give it to you. Not a problem.

What I will never understand is the general attitude of people in the service industry that customers are a nuisance only to be dealt with, if absolutely necessary. Trust… my money is what keeps your business open and you employed! According to Rachel Price, “If yuh doh like yuh wuk, go home!”

In any case, between the good and the bad, there are tonnes of things that make this country unique.  Whether they make you mad, keep you amused or don’t affect you at all, you can’t deny that they’re all part of what makes Trinidad and Tobago so special, and the place that we all call home.

Catherine Young

Catherine Young is a serious journalist in the same way that Bridget Jones is a serious journalist. When not obsessing about being a singleton, Catherine is pursuing her love of fashion and photography. Follow her at on Twitter @promiscuouslola.

2 Comments

  1. Dede

    October 10, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I understand that high qaltiuy prints of the official poster are available for sale in a limited edition.How many will be printed? What’s the purchase price?Where can one make enquiries about purchasing? Can overseas buyers purchase prints? It would be useful to include this information in your blog post, no?

  2. http://www.allweb.space/oranatno.0fees.net

    December 3, 2015 at 6:38 am

    That’s a clever answer to a tricky question

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