Monday, July 19, 2010
In Samoa, prepaid electricity can be bought just like a calling card. You go to a store, ask for the amount you want to spend, and like that, you are given a card with an area to scratch off to reveal your code to top up. Or at least that’s what I thought. My cash power was running low so I decided to top up for the first time over the weekend. I found a store that sold the little cards, went home, scratched to find my number, and then realized that things were actually much more complicated than I thought. The cash power box has a number pad on it, so naturally, I thought you would punch in the 10 digit code from the card. I was wrong. After finding your code, you then call the electric company. You enter in your cash power boxes’ code and then enter your prepaid card number. Following this process, you then receive a SIXTY DIGIT code to type in. I thought I had misheard the first time, and asked for clarification: “You mean 16?” I asked the woman on the other end of the phone. “No, 60. You ready?” I scrambled around to find a pen and wrote down the absurdly long code. After hanging up, I made my way to the power box and began entering in the numbers, twenty at a time. I was worried I would make a mistake and have to start all over again, so each digit was pressed with care. At last, the 60th number was entered, and just like that, my power supply went from 2.3 to 29.7! Relieved, I went back into my room and turned the computer, fan, and lights on. In a country so small, I have no idea why a sixty-digit code is necessary for ANYTHING. Fa’a Samoa.