I finally got around to investigate the situation while riding in the car this afternoon. I put it on the “discreet” setting. It stayed blue. Something else was amiss, but it took me a minute to figure out: this was phone was in good condition. Frequent readers will remember I threw my phone at a dog just before Christmas, and has been cracked and scratched ever since. “Oh no,” I said out loud, accessing the list of saved phone numbers. “This is not my phone.”
Cell phone service is still relatively new in Samoa, and while there is some variation in phone models, this country doesn’t have the variety of phones one would find in a place where cell phones have been around longer. There are also only 2 cell phone carriers in Samoa: Digicel and GoMobile. This also cuts down on the variety of phones. The third factor is price. Most people here don’t need the functionality of a Blackberry or an iPhone, so most of us buy the cheapest bare-bones model, in my case a Nokia from the Clinton era.
Given the lack of variety and my tendency to socialize with others who have an income level similar to mine, phone snafus like the one this morning happen more often than they might other places.
I was at a social gathering last night, at one point during which I laid down on a couch. When I got up from the couch, it turned out I’d been laying on top of 3 identical Nokia phones. I took mine and left. But of course, I didn’t take mine. Oops.
I called the number of the person who’d called during mass and to’ona’i.
“Malo.” A woman’s voice.
“Malo,” I said. “Ummm... Who’s phone is this?”
“This is my phone. You just called me.” Right.
“Who’s phone am I calling from?”
“Patrick?” she asked.
“No,” I said. “This is Matthew. Is this Patrick’s phone?”
It was Patrick’s phone. I don’t know Patrick, but I guess he was there last night. I had his mom on the other end of the line. She was worried about him. I explained the mix-up, and told her I’d tell Patrick to call her when I got a hold of him.
“Are you a palagi?” she asked.
“Yes.” I said.
“Good,” she said. “Take care of yourself.”
After I bought more phone credit and loaded it in, I found a number for Julie saved in the phone’s contacts. It was Julie’s house where the accidental phone swap had occurred, and I figured she could remedy the situation.
She was happy to drive to my house to switch the phones, except my phone was still yet to be found.
When I got home from to’ona’i, my phone was laying right next to my computer. As it turned out, there was no swap. When I got up from the couch and saw three phones identical to mine laying there, it turns out none of the phones were mine. Mine had been in my pocket the whole time. Oops.
I’m spray-painting mine bright orange.
I hope you’re well. Pictures below.
Samoa played in the finals of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens Tournament last night. We watched at my friend Ainsof's house.
Last time Samoa won the Hong Kong Sevens was 2007. The put the team on the $10 bill. What will they do this time?
Patrick was at the party last night. Incidentally, it was not his phone I took; there are two Patricks. In an case, this Patrick is an Australian volunteer. He teaches computers at the National University of Samoa, and his mum reads the blog.