Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Trini rant

I once travelled back from London, through Tobago, to get home to Trinidad. When we arrived in Tobago we were told that flights were slightly delayed, so I told the desk attendant that myself and my exhausted, hungry 7-year-old son would happily book a room at a nearby hotel, if the wait was going to be very long. We could easily catch the first flight in the morning.

The attendant assured me that the wait would not be long.

The airport in Tobago does not have anywhere to sit except on the sidewalk, and hardly anything to eat, unless you want fried chicken and chips. Food is available at nearby restaurants, but we did not want to leave the airport and miss our flight! Which would be leaving "just now!". "like what time?". "just now."

My son and I had been travelling for twelve hours what with busses and airport waits, and we were truly exhausted. So we sat on the sidewalk with our feet in the drain along with the other families with small, hungry, tired children who were also waiting.

We were put on a plane 5 hours later, late in the night.

Why not say "ma'am, all flights are delayed. It would be a great idea to go to a hotel to get some sleep." they must have had some idea of the length of time we would really have to wait, why not be honest?

I recently went to the license office on Wrightson Road, to transfer a vehicle. I took the 3 boys with me because I had no babysitting options and really, how bad can it be? By about 10 o'clock in the morning I got to the counter with all my forms filled out, stamped etc, and the teller did NOT say "thank you ma'am, come back at 2 o'clock." no. No-one could say how long it would take. And you dare not leave, because AT ANY MOMENT your number could be called. There is nothing to eat (not even a doubles man outside! What's with that?), and no bathroom in the building. There is a TV with the sound turned off, and a "happy independence" banner covering 3/4 of the screen. Several people were watching the remaining, silent quarter with rapt attention. At 3 o'clock I shoved and elbowed my way to a counter, and said "my children and I are starving. How much longer?" the teller said that he didn't know, but anyway the cashier would be closed soon so I would have to come back tomorrow. Gee, thanks.

The teller who I handed my forms to in the first place must have known that pushing the paper would take several hours, but she made the decision to leave me, my three children, and several dozen other people in the dark. Naturally, there aren't enough chairs for all of these waiting people. There is hardly room to stand. And the "toilets", in another building, do NOT go there!

Someone I know has an ongoing court case here in Trinidad. He lives away, but must attend court regularly here. This has been going on now for several years, with no end in sight. Recently he arrived in court, and the case was postponed AGAIN because one of the police officers has "a prior engagement". He has to come back another month. Why not inform the court before the date of the case? Is it too much trouble? Does a callous action make some people feel powerful?

It is certainly a form of power. "look! I can make you sit in the drain! Hungry! for hours!"

"I have to spend all day sitting at this counter, so you better suffer too."

"look at the stupid feller, he reach from quite overs to go back, heh heh!"

"I not helping you out, dat is not my job."

"it have ah feller, if you pay $600 you go get through real quick. He would take care of everything."

What is all this about, Trini? Is this a problem with our national brain, or is it our soul? Would it kill a Trini to commit an act of kindness, even though you are hard at work? Even though you hate your work? Even though you are having a bad day? Many people, myself included, do not get paid for a missed day of work. So many of those people who are standing around waiting for their number to be called are losing out financially, and could be using the hours waiting much more fruitfully. Like going to get something to eat! There must be a doubles man SOMEWHERE around!

1 comment:

Victoria said...

If only it was Trinis ... well at least then it would be known. But it's like that everywhere. Or at least some people .. and then some stranger will offer to help you with a load of bags and you remember that people are actually good ... at least some of them are.