‘The eagle has landed’ and Trinidad and Tobago social media users are thrilled

Feature image via Canva Pro.

It's a phrase that gained widespread recognition during one of the most historic events of the 20th century. On July 20, 1969, NASA's Apollo 11 mission successfully landed astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. As the lunar module, dubbed Eagle, touched down, Armstrong reported to mission control: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

His words marked the culmination of years of effort, and was a momentous achievement in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. Added to this, the 1976 British world War film, “The Eagle Has Landed,” about a German plot to murder Winston Churchill, was a huge hit among local movie-goers.

Since then, those words have become a popular idiom symbolising a successful accomplishment — particularly if it is a challenging one.

Judging from the response of social media users on X (formerly Twitter) to a series of graphics uploads depicting said eagle about to alight on a range of bank logos, pay day in Trinidad and Tobago apparently qualifies as one of those challenging occasions:

The possibility of making stickers out of the uploaded graphic designs was delightful to commenters. As each month-end draws close — especially around Christmas, when there are the additional expenses of house-prepping, entertaining and gift-giving — workers closely monitor their online banking to see when their employer will transfer salaries. Once the money hits their accounts, they message their colleagues with texts like this:

The speed of the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network process, however, which handles electronic fund transfers, varies from bank to bank. The time between transfer and receipt of funds can be anywhere from the same day to the day after, with one bank in particular reportedly being slow to transfer funds. According to a former bank staffer, anyone who banked with that particular financial institution would be particularly sour at month end. Not only were they the last to receive their salaries, but they would also be bringing up the rear when it came to the office tradition of informing your friends that “the eagle has landed,” ergo, there were funds available for paying bills and “liming.”

Once the first few eagle-inspired bank logos hit the internet, people began making requests:

Some foreign banks even became part of the ask:

Whenever funds were tardy with their arrival, the phrase would be adapted to suit: “The eagle is still on the tree,” for instance — and in cases where the expected salary amount was nothing to write home about, the mighty eagle would suddenly be transformed into a less impressive bird:

Corbeau is the local name for the American Black Vulture, a scavenger that survives on carrion — everyone else's scraps. The same former bank employee who spoke with Global Voices remembered hearing once that “The picoplat has landed.” Picoplat is what Trinbagonians call the Grey Seedeater, a small bird that mainly eats dry seeds.

Prior to the X user posting the eagle/bank logo combo, netizens would resort to memes to humorously communicate their end-of-month financial situation:

Meme used against a Canva Pro background.

The gratitude expressed by social media users on the thread was therefore abundant, with people saying things like “Doing the Lord's work 🙏🏿,” “You’re so real for this 😭,” and “National Medal incoming.”

Now, end-of-month inter-office communication in Trinidad and Tobago has officially got more personalised — and more creative.

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