For a while I have had a sneaking suspicion that airtel has been stealing my money. I put credit on my phone and before I know it its gone. Am not sure how much credit I’ve used but I know it hasn't been that much. I can still remember with pain the time when calling another cellphone in Kenya was 8 shillings a minute, I was used to that I knew exactly how much conversation I could have before I was cut off, I knew that one compliment was one compliment too many and that I had to choose between asking someone out or making her feel good about herself, I knew that all I had was one minute forty seconds of talk time(it was a long time ago and I was really broke), I even knew how to split this 1:40 min. between more than one person, more than two when I spoke like an actor on Gilmore girls. then something happened.
A magical event, something that nobody thought would happen. The guys who decide the call rates in the country watched a terrorist TV show or movie. ask Jack Bauer how much harder it is to save the world when nobody has credit, the answer is very. Those guys in the movies always have extra credit and enough to say where the guy is even after giving his secret code to prove he has access to secrets, people don't save the world communication does. And magically call costs were 3 shs a minute.
I felt like I had been given the gift of garb. I could have silences that weren't filled by that annoying triple beep just before your call gets cut off. I could ask how was your day? And have time to roll my eyes at your answer. All of a sudden I had time on my hands or at least on the phone holding hand, I felt like those guys who had only swam in a stream all their lives and now they could swim in an ocean, a never ending wave of conversation and expectation. But I felt sure this wouldn't last. Wells are never appreciated, once thirst is sated it becomes easier to forget where the hole is.
I knew that soon enough I wouldn't even feel the difference, I knew in no time at all this feeling of talking forever wouldn't feel so long that those 3 shilling minutes would start to feel as dear as those that came before. Then I lost my phone and lost another and had to get my airtel/zain sim-card replaced.
When a sim-card is replaced all that remains to you is your number. You feel like you have the line that held you to life back but that’s not really true. What you really have is an avatar, a shadow of what once was. Like a really cheap clone that looks just the same to all sim-cards out there, when they call out to this clone they find him and through him you but its not really the same. Its missing the things that made the other sim-card special, its missing the memories of al those other sim-cards as every number you had before is lost to you now and ever. A hollow shell is what you hold in your phone and before you know it little things change too. There is this marketing technique that phone companies use where they send you texts all the time, when you wake up, a few minutes later, at breakfast and a few minutes later , they send you many and more texts they send you texts on the days when noone has texted you and on the days when you texted someone you like and are waiting beside the phone for that sweet music that means a text is on the way and you hope its a reply to a witty witticism but instead its yet another offer. Those texts get to me and I called airtel customer care and told them and they promised not to send me any more of them.
But it kept happening I especially kept getting one text all the time but I never paid any mind to it. It was for an offer I had never subscribed to so it must have been a text that they send to everyone, an advert ramed like a notification, those thank you in advance things we put at the end of letters where we have to suck up. So I paid it no mind.
But I had a sneaking suspicion that airtel was stealing my money. Even though by now I hardly appreciate the well of cheaper calls, I don't send daily doses of gratitude to the god of telecommunications(the phony god.) but I can still tell when I don't have credit and when I do. I can still tell that a two minute conversation would leave me with enough for four others. But recently something has been off. Very off. I leave my phone lying on the floor(I usually just leave my phone under my bed so when I wake up I can check the time without moving around)and when I wake up my phone is poorer. And for a while I shrugged it off, I was being niggardly I thought. I wanted to call customer care and bitch but it wasn't too much money and maybe I had lost my radar for how much I talked. So I did nothing, nothing at all.
Sometimes when I had nearly no money on my phone I would call someone anyway usually late at night and talk for much longer than I should have and still have some credit in my phone and this stirred my Sherlock Holmes tingles except not really I was just happy that their computers had gone boinkers and given us time to make free calls.
Then I borrowed credit on Saturday, using this feature where if you don't have credit on your phone you can request some from the company and then pay back later. I took 20 shs. On Sunday I put 50 shs. back on a whim i checked how much credit I now had expecting to see a nice plum 30shs. But no!
Now I had my proof, I knew they were stealing from me and I would call and complain. I walked around nursing this need to rave and rant to a faceless stranger. Then like Sherlock things started to make sense beginning with the text I kept receiving which was more notification than ad. The text that told me if 10shs.was deducted from my phone I could make calls at night for free. That was when it got to me that somehow my sim-card had subscribed to this offer without me knowing it, like doctor House I put together all the symptoms, the missing credit(that I though was stolen) the incessant texts,(that I bitched about) the free late night calls(that I thought were due to a computer glitch.) I put all these things together in my mind and like a jigsaw puzzle it began to make sense. My sim-card had betrayed me, subscribed to an offer without leave from its liege lord and if it wasn't for my holmesy nature it would have taken more than the three weeks I did to figure it out.