Simple Things...


I miss the simple things.

Simple things like auto-draft to pay bills or online bill payment. Log on, click, done.  

Today I needed to pay the water bill, simple enough task right?  Not so much…  

Let me give you a little back story. The water meter at our house was stolen; therefore we had no water at the house. The water company deemed it our responsibility to replace the meter, even though they placed the meter, for their convenience, outside the fence which is not under our protection. After much debate we were forced to pay the $50 fee to have the meter replaced, we did however get them to concede to move the water meter inside our compound fence where it could be under the careful and diligent watch of our night guard Bosco (rolls eyes with much sarcasm).  

The process to pay the bill for the replacement meter took a combined four hours and went something like this;  File a police report for the stolen meter. This was quite the experience in itself. They asked if we wanted our night guard arrested for having the meter stolen on his watch.  Even though the meter was outside the fence the policeman said it was his responsibility and he should have been more diligent in his job. Once I convinced them not to arrest our night guard I got the police report filed and officially stamped by the "Big Man." I took   the police report to the water company to request a replacement meter.  The water company gave me a bill for the replacement meter which had to be paid at the bank. Oddly enough you cannot pay your water bill at the water company.  You have to pay you bill at the bank. So I went to the ATM and waited in line to withdrawal money.  You cannot withdrawal money from inside without a large fee, so I withdrew it from the ATM outside the bank which has no fee associated with it.  Coming out of the ATM I was ushered to the side and forced to walk around an armored truck delivering money to the bank with three guys with AK 47s, one with riot shot-gun and one with an old school Tommy Gun. Pierce found this entertaining and pointed to the guards “Uncle you have gun!”  After withdrawing money from right outside the bank, I went into the bank to pay the water bill, only after being checked with the metal detector.  This is never a fast process, first of all there is always a line, this line moves at a snails pace. When you get to the window, you go through the standard greeting process “How are you? How are things here? Yes, the family is fine, thank you.” Then if you have one of the kids with you, they must talk to the kids, get their name and go through a greeting process with them. Once you have paid the bill at the bank, you take the receipt to the water company, and then the water company can process your request. This is a far cry from setting up auto-draft or paying your bill online.  

I also miss the days of swiping my debit card at the store. This is a cash only society; remember that green stuff made out of paper with Presidents and important people  on them? Everywhere we go we have to carry cash (Ugandan Shillings) with us.  In the States, we never had cash. This is good and bad. Good because it keeps you more accountable with spending, you can’t just swipe your card. The bad,  you can’t just swipe your card. You always have to carry Shillings with you. A couple of times we have run short on Shillings when we are at the Supermarket. Kari has developed such a good relationship with the guys at the Supermarket that they tell her to just bring the remaining balance the next time she is in town.  

How is miss some of the simple things. Yet, some aspects of life here are easier than back home. It is a balancing act.  Sometimes I feel as though I might completely lose my balance and come crashing down, while other days I feel as though I can walk the tightrope with ease. Balance…

Matthew OrtegaComment