Reality Check

Ethiotelecom, Ethiopia
Ethiotelecom, Ethiopia

On my last day in Ethiopia, I was reminded of the frustration of living in a developing country. People's memories are selective, and often biased towards the positive bits. Two weeks of blissful vacation in Addis and around made me think about this life once again. It's been so wonderful, but clearly, there is always a downside to everything.

The slightest things can set you off when living in the developing world, as someone coming from the world of plenty. The lows are low, and the highs are high. The dichotomy makes life in this world thrilling, unless you are having a low day. It's my last day here, and I decided to hit up a cafe with wifi to prep for my return to the "real world". Over the past two weeks, I've been happy to be unplugged, so I never minded much if a place that claims to have Internet fails to provide. It's just the way it is.

That's all good and well until you actually NEED it, and then the frustration is 10 fold. That hiccup started the frustration, then after parking at this cafe with non Internet for a few hours, I asked for the bill. For some reason, half an hour later, still no bill. At some point, I finally got frustrated enough and went up to the counter. They explained that the machine to print the bill is broken. I don't understand why they couldn't just bring the hand written bill, because that's what happened when I finally got up to the counter.

The event that finally made me lose my patience was when I attempted to top up the mobile phone. I hadn't been able to reach my friend all afternoon because I thought my phone was out of credit and the Internet at the cafe was non working. So, I ventured to Ethio-Telecom, and asked for a top up card. The top up process failed. And it was then the guy told me that the network is down. Was he hoping by some magic that the network would work as I punch in the numbers?!

So there it goes, I paid for something that didn't work. "Try in an hour", was his solution. I lost my patience and went off on him a bit. He explained it was the network's problem, and out of his control. I empathize with that, but warning your customer of this issue prior to them spending money would have been rather helpful.

With this one episode, the memories of my lowest of low days from life in Cameroon, and even to some extend, China, begin to come back. Life is about tradeoffs. Choosing to live an exciting life comes with its fair share of downsides, and it's important to remember that. And when these episodes happen, I always have the utmost regret for losing my patience afterward. Because unlike me, who can choose to leave the country, the poor guy from Ethio-Telecom does not, and this is his reality.