How Did You Get My Number?

On arrival, I did what I always do in a new country. I went to the local cellular phone store and bought myself a pay-as-you-go SIM card. It was a simple transaction. As I recall, I handed over $20 and received a SIM with a $10 credit, no questions asked (well, other than, “Are you English?”). Nice.

Phone service here, much like the electricity supply, is erratic. You get good spells and bad spells. By and large, I can’t complain. Typically, I am happier when people can’t contact me than when they can. I am less sympathetic if I am the one wanting to make contact.

Anyway, recently my service went down. At first, I didn’t pay it much attention. 24 hours later, after a few tentative enquiries, it transpired that everyone else had service, it was just my service that was down. I appreciate that I take a dark storm cloud with me wherever I go, but this was adding a new dimension. Was it really possible that my storm cloud was blocking my signal? This was radical stuff.

cell phone post pic_Lara_WWLOR

I finally gave in and contacted my “service provider”. I spent the obligatory 15 minutes on hold, got disconnected, spent another 15 minutes on hold and finally spoke to a human. He was nice except that he concluded that I was a moronic idiot. My number was working fine. It simply wasn’t possible that I couldn’t make or receive calls. So, I went to the phone shop.

After some negotiation, I persuaded someone to look at my phone. 20 minutes later it transpired that as my SIM has never been registered in my name, my phone number had been sold to someone else, which had disabled my service. How is it possible that a phone company has no idea which of its numbers are in service?

I demanded my number back. 18 months of use struck me as a reasonable period for claiming ownership. I politely suggested that we should call “my” number and let the new owner know there was an issue, but my suggestion was dismissed. We simply reclaimed my number and I went home happy.

At about 1 am, my phone began to ring and ring and ring. At 1:05 am, my phone rang and rang and rang. The next time, I answered it.


This is my number. How did you get it?

I bought it 18 months ago and then you hijacked it for 48 hours and now I have it back.

But it was my number 5 years ago. I just got back on island, so I took my number back.

But it’s not your number. It’s my number.

But I’ve got credit on that number…

I think you should go back to the shop and get a new number.

But I’ve got credit on that number…

And I’ve got eye bags.


End of story.

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