The Robber Barons are Alive and Well

Last week I had occasion to transfer a sum of money to Malaysia from my bank in Dubai. Because of a small inaccuracy in the beneficiary's details, that transaction was cancelled and my account was re-credited, minus AED 1,500. That's more than 250 quid in real money! I've complained of course but so far had no response. I'd expect to be charged something for a failed transaction, maybe as much as 150 Dirhams, but 1,500? Surely that's taking the P by any standards? It's not as if an intrepid motorbike dispatch rider had carried my money all the way to Kuala Lumpur only to be foiled by a locked and bolted door with a painted sign- Gone Away. No, all that happened was a couple of numbers changed on a spreadsheet, an electronic handshake failed and the numbers were changed back. But not all the way back. I wish I could make money that easily.

Don't ask me where I am

I remember when people used to start a phone call with- hello, how are you? But that was in the days of static telephones. No-one ever thought of asking- where are you? They already knew; you were at home, answering the phone. And if you weren't, they just had to wait until you were. I liked that. I liked that when I was out, I was out of reach. To today's generation, this is incomprehensible. We are all expected to be instantly available. Of course I carry a mobile all the time and wouldn't want to turn the clock back. But I'd very much like to uninvent the question- where are you? It always sounds accusatory, as in- why aren't you somewhere else? But I think I've finally settled on the best response- I'm just by my phone. How about you?

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