Lucky Me

So this happened:

I won a television in a contest that I did not know I had entered.

I received a call on a Tuesday telling me I had won a television from Orange Money, the mobile money service of Orange, Madagascar’s largest cellular network provider. The woman told me that I could collect it at 4 o’clock on Thursday. My first thought was that it was a scam. Common folk might be tempted into a con by the promise of a free devil box, but not me.

Screen shot:

But the woman on the phone told me I could pick it up at the Orange headquarters, rather than at an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town. So it seemed legitimate.

I deliberately keep television out of my life. That’s right: I’m one of those guys. (But hopefully I’m not this guy from The Onion: “Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn’t Own A Television“)

Apparently I was chosen at random from among people who use Orange Money.

Collecting my prize was not quite the out-of-body experience of my first time I had a customer-service experience with Orange. But it was strange.

Prize Winners
One of these winners is not like the others.

The strangeness was mostly in my head. As I stood there before the cameras with my fellow champions, my rush of thoughts was something like this:

Relative to so much of the world, the accident of my birth is bathed in luck and privilege. And here I am, the Great White Grinning Dufus, receiving a free television for having done no more than enrich a French multinational corporation with some service fees. I’m a worker in international development, trying to help this country; trying to help people, possibly people like Pink Dress Woman on my right, who seems peeved that she only won a lousy smartphone. 

I am holding in my hands a device that distracts and sedates more than it empowers and educates. Yet I’m the envy my fellow contest winners — except possibly Pink Pants Woman on my left who won a motorcycle. Oh the irony. Get over yourself, Johnson. Get over yourself. And keep smiling, Great White Grinning Dufus.

Resistance is Futile

Resistance, it seems, is futile. This is the second time that my TV-free life has been interrupted by a free TV. The first time was when I lived in Takoma Park, Maryland. My sister gave it to me. For months I kept it in the box as though it were a kilo of heroine, afraid that I would spiral into addiction if I were to ever plug it in and turn it on. When I finally did start using it occasionally, I took satisfaction whenever I turned it on if it had to run through the initial setup sequence — scanning for channels and so on. When that happened, it meant that the TV had been left unplugged for a long, long time.

Not only did I win a television last week, I was on television. Some of my Malagasy coworkers saw me on the news and congratulated me the next day. And they gave me loads of shit about it. I should have a big party, they said. I should share it with them, or give it to one of them.

For now, it’s still in its box, in my living room, like a kilo of heroine. Lucky me.

1 comment

  1. S.M. Johnson Reply
    December 20, 2015 at 12:37 am

    That is excellent. U!S!A! I think it would look great in the local Peace Corps lobby, or a retirement community, etc.

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