22 January 2013

No, it might not be fine

Found this scanning my Facebook newsfeed – a comment on a thread with condolences for a woman who had lost her father: ‘It shall all be fine.’

It might be. Sometimes you recover from loss and pain and incredible difficulty. Sometimes it makes you stronger and happier in the end. Sometimes you learn to live with it. And sometimes it’s not going to be fine. Ever.

Augusten Burroughs wrote in his beautiful – and, to me, so true – essay To Live Unhappily Ever After:

‘So we can be filled with holes and loss and wide expanses of unhealed geography—and we can also be excited by life and in love and content at the exact same moment. This is among the oldest, deepest, most primal truths: The facts of life may be, at times, unbearably painful. But the core, the bones of life are generous beyond all reason or belief. Those things which ought to kill us do not. This should be taken as encouragement to continue.

The truth about healing is that you don't need to heal to be whole.’

18 January 2013

High Fiction and Shenanigans: KPLC Power Bills

In November, there seems to have been a spate of ridiculously high power bills. Mine was higher than usual, so I contacted KPLC and was told that not all bills are based on meter readings, but, for practical reasons, on estimates.

I do wonder on what basis KPLC make those estimates since my bill was higher than anything I’d paid before.

A friend had a power bill that was three times the usual amount, and when she called KPLC, the customer service staff asked if she had perhaps ‘done some welding’.

But it got more intriguing in December when I received a power bill of around KES120,000 for my office. Office, mind you, so no lights at night, no water heater, etc. We have never had a bill of more than KES5,000 for that building. I called KPLC and even the customer service lady admitted that this was ‘a lot of money’ (no shit, sister). KPLC then said I should take the meter reading and send someone to Stima Plaze. This worked surprisingly well (all things considered) as I was given the correct amount and just paid. I still don’t understand how KPLC can even issue an invoice with a figure that is so obviously off the chart.

But that wasn’t the end of it. This month’s bill: KES117,000. I have been given a reference number ...

Also, faced with a similar invoice, my friend Patricia was given a bit more of a run around when she tried to do something about her power bill of KES157,000:

‘Kenya Power, Harambee Ave., Wednesday, 16th Jan

The first guy I was directed to looked at me once and proceeded to click his mouse annoyingly through the time it took me to state my case. He didn't flinch as I handed him a copy of the figures hubby and I had worked out and printed as proof of their blatant miscalculation. I fell silent....and a heady mix of accents being spoken at other desks began to fill our space.

His colleague sitting behind him noticed our silent/one-sided 'dialogue' and suggested I take my complaint to the team that keys in the bill data, situated on the 2nd floor. I picked my papers, without a single word being uttered by 'Mr. Lefthead' and went off off, fighting dark thoughts that were rapidly taking control in my own mind.

The lady I was sent to sat at her desk, in a dull airless room, deftly biting into a bright ripe mango, straight from the peel, without any trace of nectarous mess (surely an art in itself). I could feel myself beginning to foam at the mouth even as she admitted Kenya Power have a problem with their system (no kidding!!). She tried to explain where the problem had arisen but I wasn't having any of it at this point and said so.

She did actually look at the calculations I'd brought along, then handed my bill to another colleague with a request to rectify it. Needless to say, he took a while and I was forced to really take in my surroundings. Then came the drama with the printer- they had one, but the person who had the cable was nowhere to be found and even though I counted about five PCs in the office, none was attached to said printer.

Much shuffling and already exhausted voices explaining how said person must still be on possession of cable as he was seen holding it the previous day. Another long wait began and I spent that time musing over the fact that I now know a thing or two about consumption estimates and cost per unit (btw-you should too).

New printed rectified bill arrived after what seemed like an eternity and the December bill had been reduced by over 900% (beat that!). I'll leave you to work out all the morals of the tale.’

So, in conclusion, KPLC: What *are* you smoking when you write those bills?