Unnecessary formalities – Caribbean style

21 07 2010

The Caribbean is full of contradictions.

We have a tendency to assume things in this part of the world are always laid back, with a chill rasta vibe and “manana” attitude.  And, to a large extent this stereotype is fitting.

But what a lot of people don’t see is the extremely formal side to Caribbean living, likely a legacy left by past European colonial rulers (in Belize’s case the British).  I was completely unprepared for this.  Excited by the prospect of a low key tropical lifestyle, I gleefully abandoned the “biz-cas” attire of my consulting days in exchange for shorts and flip flops. And, all I have to say about that decision is OOPS!

I come in everyday to an office full of pleated khakis, the most freshly pressed shirts on planet earth and newly buffed leather shoes, while I look ready to sit on the beach with a margarita and a good book.  Wow do I ever feel like a douche.   This is also a world where colleagues (even in-office-colleagues) address each other as “Mr.” or “Ms.”.  So much for the days of throwing stressballs over cubicle dividers and leaving taxidermied frogs in one another’s desk drawers…

My inspiration for today’s blog actually came from an email I received from a colleague in the Turks and Caicos.  The unnecessary formality of it all caused me to 1) spit coffee onto my computer screen and 2) to talk in a ridiculous British accent using the most flowery language possible for the rest of the day.  And hitherto, as per my previous sentence, is the aforementioned electronic communication:

Dear Ms. Winterbottom Thank you for your email. We will endeavour to do our utmost best to assist you with the information requested. By copy of this email to my Scientific Officer, Mrs. Kathy Lockhart, we shall revert back to you with a response as soon as we collate the information.  Kindest regards”.

I would like to thank my most distinguished colleague for providing me with endless delight and amusement on this most radiant summer’s day. Cheerio.

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