Recap: you don’t even want to know. Apparently if you are given a phone by your employer and then want to migrate that number into an account with your own name, you are dreaming the impossible dream.  I decided that I’d just suck it up, get a phone with a new number, and then spend god knows how long trying to figure out how many accounts, passwords, and services are pegged to the old number.

This time, though, I went to a different kiosk, in a different, glossier mall, and I would make no mention of the fact that I had ever had any kind of phone at all, much less a business account.

The woman behind the counter looked at me. You want a new phone? Do you have already an existing account with Etisalat?

I remembered to breathe. No, I said. I just want to buy a phone. No contract, month-to-month, just buy the phone.

Oh. yes, ma’am we can do that, absolutely.

Great. I began to put my various forms of ID on the counter.

Oh but ma’am, the system is down. We have the technicians working but the system is down. You come back maybe this evening?

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

I nodded and smiled and did what any good Emirates-dwelling person does when confronted by hardship in a mall. I went shopping. Bought a lovely pair of shoes for work, on big sale, from a shop called Hotic, which is apparently a big brand in Turkey. For all I know it’s like the Payless Shoes of Turkey, but what the heck, they were on sale and will be great for work.

My retail therapy worked: miraculously, the Etisalat counter was up and running! I got in line, behind a man buying three phones for work, and a couple buying a pair of phones. I waited. Waited. Waited. The kiosk is a miserable place to work: it’s just an island of counters, with sales clerks working on three sides, each with its own queue. There’s nowhere, in short, to hide, when you’re working the kiosk.  Business guy took his three phones and left, first person in the couple did her paper work, then the guy did his paperwork, and then a technician appeared.

You will have to shut down. I need to fix the wiring.


Okay, I did not, actually, say that. But it may have shown on my face nevertheless, because the woman running the kiosk said that my transaction could be finished and then they’d shut down.

And we began: ID cards, credit card, which plan or no plan, pre-pay, post-pay, this or that, white or black, actually black is all they have in stock in 16GB, okay black it is, then.

People circled the kiosk like sharks, not believing that the booth was closed if I was still standing there, very clearly finishing a transaction. The woman helping me wasn’t sure of the code, didn’t know what to copy, couldn’t open the cupboard, tried to help a man with his delinquent bill, dropped my cards, typed in the wrong plan, asked her two co-workers for help at every point, and all the while the technician stood and watched and waited. It was like the reverse “Waiting for Godot:” Godot had arrived and no one was ready for him.

Finally, after 90 minutes of standing at the kiosk, I had my new phone. I also now have a new number.

And I also, of course, still have my old smashed phone, with my old number. I have no idea how to turn off the old number, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to take a letter from my employer saying that it’s okay to shut it down.