Tuesday, 07 April 2020
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

A big hello to Auntie Ana from Mostar

By  Mark Thomas Jan 06, 2018

Yes, I know it is a new year and a time for looking forward optimistically into a “brave new dawn” but I need to rewind a little.

It was a few days before Christmas, yes the traditional time to scoop up all those Christmas presents. We had decided not to buy each other presents, but instead to show the festive spirit and donate money to a charity. The only member of the family to be treated to a present was my mother-in-law and this was more out of necessity than pleasure. She had been driving us mad with her technological problems.

She is a relatively recent convert to the world of Facebook and she is addicted. However, she basically adopted an old tablet that used to be my wife’s and is as fast as the Croatian railway system. For months we had been hearing “I like it is frozen again,” and “It has gone to sleep.” The only answer to our family dilemma was to get her a new one. Somehow the “honour” of obtaining this new gadget fell on my doorstep. Of course I completely forgot about this obligation until Christmas Eve.
I dived into a shop in Lapad (that will remain nameless quite possibly for legal reasons) and browsed their offer. “If she only uses Facebook then this tablet is a good choice,” added the shop assistant. I am the only member of the family not to have a tablet, yes why they asked me to buy one is not clear to me either, so I took her advice. It looked ok, with a big enough screen for her to see, rather than pressing the screen three centimetres from the end of her nose.

I even wrapped it up. As I am a man and we just don’t have the thumbs or the skills to wrap any present without it looking like it has regurgitated by a pelican. Christmas lunch started and as nobody was expecting a present it went without delays. The we stopped midway through to unveil the present. Mother-in-law of course burst into tears and thanked everyone from the bottom of her heart. Lunch continued and the tablet was left to the side. “Right let’s try this new machine,” I jumped into action after dessert. Something felt strange. I turned on the machine and downloaded Facebook, Viber and Gmail, the only three apps that she uses. It seemed terribly slow. With the apps downloaded the mystery became more…well mysterious. “How is Auntie Ana?” I asked my mother-in-law. “And how do you know Ivo from Berlin’” I added. I had opened the Viber pp and the address book was full of unfamiliar names and faces. The vast majority seemed to be either in Mostar or Frankfurt. All their names, emails, phone numbers and even photos were there on display.

Thinking I was going mad I opened Gmail. – Welcome Back – was the first message. And then another unfamiliar name and a whole list of contacts, with birthdays and phone numbers, again it was a mix of Herzegovina and “expats” spread around Merkel Land. Some of the contacts matched the contacts in Viber. Scratching my head I tried Facebook. Same story with a whole list of Herzegovina faces, Mato Bulic videos and photos of Mostar Bridge.

Yes, you have guessed it (well you probably did long before me) this tablet was not brand new. It appeared that a certain lady, yes from Mostar, had owned this particular tablet before and had probably taken it back because it was dead slow. She had left all her details in the tablet, which was certainly a mistake, but the biggest horror was that this Lapad shop had tried (and succeeded) to resell it to someone else – me!

There is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to start. Apart from the complete unprofessional approach of reselling a “broken” tablet to someone else they had also given me all her personal details, as well as the details of her “nearest and dearest.” Privacy, especially in these days of stealing identities, should be respected and protected, and not resold to another customer. Needless to say as soon as the festive holidays had finished I returned to the shop. “Oh I am sorry we just got this from another shop and presumed it was new,” came her honest reply. I kind of felt sorry for her. She wasn’t the person I should be fighting. The system that she was working in was the cause of this embarrassing dilemma.

“We can offer you a new one,” she attempted a smile. “Ok, just make sure this time its new and lot a souvenir from Mostar,” I concluded.



The Voice of Dubrovnik


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