Everything we buy comes with T&Cs. Once we buy the laptop, as soon as we walk out of the shop, we toss away the receipt and often, the receipt would carry the T&Cs in case of fault and so on. Its only when it stops working and we return it to the shop to complain - a complaint that usually falls on deaf ears, that we wish we had read the T&Cs. Getting back, many of us did not read the December T&Cs before we went to the ATM and started spending. In the T&Cs, Chief Accountant had stated: “The office will pay your December salary on December 10th, and not at the end of the month – on the 30th as is usually the norm.”
When the month ends and salaries have been paid, on the first AM visit, we check our balance – just to make sure that Accounts Girl paid us what is due and that nothing has been deducted. On our next visit, again, we don’t bother checking balances because in our heads, we know we are still flush and healthy. And it happens over the next ten-to-fifteen ATM visits – draw cash, but never look at the balance.
Come mid-month and bunkenke seeps in. We know we have been spending like fwaa, and have been avoiding the ‘account balance’ option on the screen, but now, it’s an option we can no longer afford to ignore. We must hit it, but we must hit it with some tact. You see, people who believe the ATM might not give them money are very careful as to which ATM they use. They will pick an ATM that has next to zero traffic or, they show up in the middle of the night when everybody is home asleep.
They do it because they can’t afford to have people who are lining up behind them, see them walk away without cash. No matter how well you try to disguise that you only wanted to check your balance, everybody lining up behind you knows otherwise. They know your account is empty. And if they didn’t know it was empty, Askari, once you walk away, will happily walk down the queue telling everybody – “Ah, that man who just walked away, his account didn’t even have 5k for kindazi and black tea.”
Now that we are in January, many who have been to the ATM and found it only holds enough to make a 5K kindazi and black tea withdrawal, are not yet that bothered. Its New Year’s Day and as the office was closed for Christmas, salaries have been delayed but, will reflect tomorrow or Tuesday at the latest so they assume.