I get cross on the phone, frustrated and I
don’t like how my voice sounds. Is this
happening more and more? I sincerely hope not.
So, yesterday I bought a set top box for
the lady who works in our house. Kenya has now (finally, after long threats and court cases) moved to a digital system - so old analogue TVs no longer work. Bad news for hospital waiting rooms - not such big news for us because we have a big shiny TV that is already digital but annoying for Gladys as we gave
her one of our old TVs a few months ago and now it doesn’t work because of the
digital migration. I felt bad for her but didn’t get around to doing anything about
it for ages – that is, until yesterday. Fortunately a subscription free set-top box (or decoder), new, costs around 3,500/-
First, I tried buying the box by simply throwing
it in my shopping trolley – but was told that it first had to be registered and
unlocked. This process took half an hour
and I felt that I was pretty cool about the wait.
‘How long might it take?’ – Half an hour had passed and I had already
filled in some time getting other shopping, in the hopes that she may have
finished when I got there.
‘Would you like to sit down?’ the tech
savvy shop assistant said in response, clearly worried about my advanced age.
‘No, I’m fine. It’s just that I would quite
like to go soon.’ I looked at my watch.
In fact I was transfixed by Britney Spears gyrating
on a High Def TV that was about 3 inches from my face (the shopping aisles are tight)
– so was quite happy, though I did wonder, quite seriously, about Britney's choice of
skimpy leotards and bikinis she was keeping my mind off things. Plus it was hot up in the top floor
of the supermarket too. (Temperature wise - not just Britney)
‘It will just take 10 more minutes’, the shop assistant assured before passing me off to be dealt with a new a
Britney kept me entertained, the digital
box seemed to ‘load’ and I was assured that it was in perfect working order.
Next I went downstairs to pay for said decoder and then
managed to leave said box on the packing side of the supermarket till. The problem we have here in Kenya is that we have someone very nice to pack our bags for us at the other side of the till, so I don't know what the mix up was, but the decoder did not walk out of the shop with me. I didn’t realise my mistake until I got home (30 minutes drive away) so when I did, I found my receipt and called customer service quickly.
‘I bought a decoder just now,’ I explained ‘and....’
‘I’ll put you through to the tech
department.’ Was the response.
‘No!...’ I said – ‘please don’t put me
through to anyone – just check to see if my decoder is still sitting at til
Anyway – short story is that it was there. Fine – a 30 minute drive to get it back again
but I was going to be going past the shopping centre on the school run, so fine. It was doable.
Now, Nairobi traffic is no joke at the
moment and for some crazy reason (i.e. I can’t delegate), I had a school pick
up and 4pm and 6pm yesterday (my middle daughter had a school play practise) and decided to go home in between - Which translated to 2.5 hours in the car in rush hour traffic. Add that on to an already busy day (starting with the usual 5.40am alarm wake-up) and you can see where I am going with this...
So, I go back to fetch the set top box. The barriers at the shopping centre have all simultaneously
broken down but as I queue to get in (having had my car searched that never fails to feel intrusive, even though I am used to it by now) I don’t get cross. There’s
someone there to help with the barriers eventually and the expat lady in the car adjacent to me
seems to be getting cross for everyone, so I keep my head down.
I do all of the school runs and get home with last child after dark, pick
up and decide, rather rashly, to try to wire up Gladys’ set top box so that she can watch TV – and guess what? It’s not working. What does the blooming box say? ‘NO SIGNAL’.
I call the store – he says ‘let me put you
through to the tech department...’ I wince, but stay quiet.
The tech man is apologetic but says he can’t
help. He suggests I try the helpline for the set top
box. After a bit of whining at him, I hang up and I call the helpline of the decoder supplier – the lady on the phone
says that it’s a signal problem.
‘Try pointing the aerial toward Upper Hill –
that’s where our signal comes from.’
It’s not a great scenario. I’m already feeling bad that Gladys's room
looks bare and I should definitely give her a rug and I’m manhandling this
human sized TV closer to the door to try and get a better signal and it’s still
not working. And the dogs are barking and the kids are supposed to be putting themselves to bed but I bet they're not and it's all falling apart.
‘But the TV worked before!’ My voice
‘Ah, but that was when it was analogue.’
‘So why did I buy your decoder if it has
such a weak signal?’ I ask – strained as there’s also no phone signal in Gladys' room so the lady on the other end keeps saying ‘I can’t hear you’ and threatening to hang up.
And eventually I realise that there is nothing more to
say, it is just a signal problem, but I still won’t let the helpline lady hang up because it’s 8 O’clock at night
and I am disappointed. Meanwhile Gladys stands to one side looks
‘It’s okay Madam.’ She says.
By the way - an added stress this week was recklessly brought on by my offering to make a dress for the Bugsy Malone school play (which I did so willingly). The dress is not even for my child but when I was asked to make a dress for Tallulah - how could I resist?! It doesn't bear close scrutiny - like most of my creations - lots of loose threads, poorly cut edges and unfinished seams - let's hope it holds up for x2 performances!
Why didn't I ask a fundi to do it I hear you say?.. I left it too late and the dress rehearsal was today...
The Original Version
Final dress - guess that 'making a pattern from Christmas wrapping paper' trick really paid off,