Caribbean People, Are Loved Ones Conning You?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “Sob Story” is “a sentimental story or account intended chiefly to evoke sympathy or sadness”.

Sob stories can be real but, when it comes to relatives, neighbors, and friends, they’re often exaggerated.

Sob Story Saturday - the 'Ex Factor' -

Why Some Always Have Sob Stories

There appears to be many reasons. I am no psychologist, though I may have stayed in an hotel in which psychologists have stayed. A few reasons for sob stories are:

  1. Habit, a jus so dem stay – They are just like that because of habit
  2. Dem jus’ emotional – They are just emotional
  3. Dem a samfi or chappa – They are scammers or con artists
  4. Dem love attention – They love attention
  5. Dem jus’ selfish – They are selfish. [In their minds], their problem is the biggest problem and someone has to listen to it, for whatever reason.
  6. Dem greedy – They are greedy.
  7. Dem feel seh if dem come and tell di truth, yuh naw go listen – They feel if they tell the truth, you will not listen.

Why Tell Only Certain People Sob Stories?

“Duppy know who fi frighten” — Jamaican saying

Do some regularly “tek set pon you” (constantly bother you) but never other neighbors, friends, relatives? They might even ignore your sibling… an identical twin even… who shares the same apartment with you, has a better job, is more accomplished, makes more money, and is an actual psychologist, because your twin doesn’t listen to the “sob stories” and has often said “NO”, and don’t engage them?

Again, I’m no psychologist, but there seems to be a few reasons:

  1. The one dem come to wid dem stories are perceived as ediat – the one they approach with their stories is perceived as an idiot who will listen
  2. They size up someone just pon pure perception an’ feel seh dat person haffi help dem straight; a fi dem time now – Based on pure perception, they feel a particular person has to help them because it is their time now.
  3. Dem feel like seh a person obligated to dem, for dem fren-ship, dem blood relationship, or dem neighbor-ship – [The sob story teller] feels the person is obligated to listen [and help only the way the story teller wishes] because of their great friendship, are related by blood, or are “good” neighbors.
  4. In di case of fren / neighbor, di one dem lean pon is considered a “simp” like di man and woman dem pon 90 Day Fiancé show dem – Friend/neighbor may consider the one they lean on to be a “simp”… kinda like some of the men and women of the 90 Day Financi… er… Fiancé franchise.
  5. A suh dem stay – that’s just how they are
  6. Dem feel seh those people abligated to dem – They feel those persons are obligated to listen and/or help
  7. Dem feel seh dem smart and yuh a ediat – They feel they are very cunning [like a fox] and that you are dumb.
  8. Dem feel seh certain people jus’ lucky – They feel that certain people are just lucky.
  9. Dem ruin smaddy else, or di person wise up and stop listening, so is your turn now – They have ruined someone else, or the person stopped listening, and now it’s your turn.

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But, Are They Conning You?

So they come with the sob stories and.. cough… excuses on excuses on excuses… but it does not always mean they want something or are feeding you stories to con you.

How can you tell if they are conning you?

Here are 20 common if not generic scenarios that, if you find yourself in any one situation, your friend, neighbor, or relative is likely conning you… because that person is an opportunist, selfish, or so-called / fair-weather friend, relative, or neighbor.

1. You are a giver – you give to those who are needy / unfortunate freely, like those who are fully disabled, homeless, shelterless, born with birth defects, very old widows, very young orphans… but gave to an able-bodied friend / neighbor / relative who finds themself in quite a pinch.  But, after that, the individual keeps coming back to you “for help” for everything and every situation they put themselves in.

2. You are a listener – you will listen, often without interrupting – and the individual keeps coming back to you with all sorts of crazy stories and situations.

3. When you give, others find out – and those others suddenly have a sob story for you.

4. You are approached about A. You encourage them about A… but then they always cry about B or C.  You encourage them to take their lesson or get a job or learn from their mistakes… You even offer to help them learn how to fish... but they are never interested. They want help with something else… usually a temporary or futile “solution” or shortcut that has the lowest probability of being fruitful. They want instant gratification.

5. You have a loss in your family or are dealing with some terrible news. The neighbor / friend / relative calls to offer condolences and then add the conjugation… “BUT I have a problem and hope you can help me…”

6. You are perceived by multiple of them that “you are loaded” even when you are just barely getting by because you try to live within your means.

7. You are your only means of support AND may even support quite a few others BUT you constantly get calls and texts with “sob stories”. When you listen but offer nothing else, the persons return with expanded versions of the sob stories, until they just come out and ask for something.

8. You are told, “I know you have a lot of things on your plate but you are the only one I can come to with this…” OR “I know you are helping out a lot of others already, but [you] are the LAST person I can come to about this…”

9. The person who used to bother you constantly to listen to their stories, help them with something or give them money, becomes large and moves up the ladder, and suddenly not even a ping… and completely forgets about you and everyone else down the ladder. As my mother would say, “they get where dem want reach so why would they ‘member you [when things are the way they want]? If you hear from dem again, is because where dem reach was temporary.

10. Someone who you KNOW lives beyond their means seem to be frequently looking for sympathy and comes to you with “I’m in tremendous debt!” (that they could’ve easily avoided) so they’re looking at you, their relative, friend, neighbor, who has that mango money tree, apple money tree, and fence money trees in your backyard for help.

Yes, I almost fell for your sob story... Then I remembered that everything you say is a lie.

11. Your “friends” go out of their way to seek your advice — and then go out of their way not to follow it. They might smile and nod and agree while you are giving the advice (wolf in sheep clothing) or might even call you an “idiot” for your advice, raising their voices (wolf).

12. They come to you for money, something large, and you offer 10% (still large) of what they ask for. They wail and cry while insisting that amount can’t help them… and then shamelessly offer to pay you back if you “can do a little better”.

13. “They tell you they love you but have ulterior motives” or conditions as Reggae artist Luciano says.

14. They always sing high praises about you to your face, especially when they have sob stories, but behind your back… a different story.

15. You are called and you listen to their story and you give advice… They come back with other sob stories and you listen and advise them… They come back with more, and you tell them you can’t at this time. They call you !@#$%, selfish, and all sorts of dirty words.

16. They come with a sob story month after month and you help them out…, and once you can’t help them out, they say, “You neva’ do nutt’n fi mi yet and mi ask yuh one ting and yuh say no.”

17. They come to you with sob story. You can’t help. They tell you “how come you help out so and so, and NEVER want to help me and me have much more responsibilities [than so-and-so who you helped]”?

18. They tell you “This horrible thing happened to me. I know you are at work BUT I just stubbed my toes while going to work and my car is in the shop, my cow is lean and horse fat… Can you pick up my husband/wife/son/daughter/friends from the airport in 3 hours? There’s nobody else who can do it. They will also be also hungry, so please get them some food at the corner of A and B street at that Chinese food place next to the dry cleaner. They sell the best food. Oh! Ask my husband/wife/son/daughter/friends to get my dry cleaning… I’ll pay you back for it.

19.Your friend, relative, or neighbor absolutely cannot handle their finances. You feel sorry because they showed you they have negative balance in their account. Figuring it happens, you feel sorry for them and give them $50 to buy dinner for them and their children. However, later in the day, you see them post on social media (pick your choice) the brand new $200 sneakers or $500 purse they had been eying for a while.

20. It is revealed that the relationship of a relative or friend or neighbor “mash up” because of cheating. The cheater comes to you and tells you “Well, I cheated on my [partner] because [reason that insinuates it’s the partner’s fault, not the cheater]” and gets mad when you side with the partner.

A Message To You All

“An ingrate bites the hand that helps them and then complains of indigestion.”

Nobody wants to plant the corn, but everybody wants to raid the barn… Who you a-go blame it on, when it’s a next one you a-depend on… well you wrong!” — Anthony B “Raid the Barn”

Nuff neglect the farming, they’re scorning the mud
Yet they want to be the first to reap the fruit as it bud (OH!)
— iWayne “Living in Love”

Guilty Of Any Of 20 Sins Above?

If you are guilty, perpetrator of at least ONE of the above, don’t be like the politician who says he/she is the best, most moral person, who never does things like that. Instead, own up to it. You are a BAD friend, relative, or neighbor to anyone you did that to and, even if you say you love the person every time you speak but treat the person like that, you don’t love the person at allYou need to go to the same person the artist Foreigner went to to find out what love is… or, better yet, get on your knees and pray to God and then ask the friend / neighbor / relative for forgiveness and avoid that behavior.  It’s too pervasive in Jamaica, in Trinidad and Tobago, in Barbados, in Haiti, … among Caribbean folk living in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada…

  • “Greater love has no one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend/relative/neighbor” —
  • “Who is a good neighbor? The Good Samaritan— Luke 10:25-37
  • “I gave you 5 talents, 2 talents, and 1 talent. What do you do with it / them? The Parable of the Talents — Matthew 25:14-30
  • “Come with sob story looking for help/mercy but refusing others the same. The Unforgiving Servant” — Matthew 18:21-35

What say you Caribbean people? What side are you on… the abuser or the abused… the cunning fox or the idiot?

Talk to me nuh?


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