We have some expressions and ideas in Trinidad that defy definition and logic. One of these is the term “flow fat”. I have no idea how it started but like the Yeti, I was sure of its existence. My friend Franklin was the expert on different types of fat and I was saturated with examples. Franklin just had to look at a chubby or overweight person and he would nod sagely and diagnose, “Flow fat!” From what I deduced at the time, “flow fat” was a product of a lack of exercise and drinking too much iced water. Franklin would say, “Whole day the man drinking ice water. Is flow fat!”
In my case my narrow hips and broad mind seemed to have changed places but I have kept my fat stationary. I don’t have flow fat but since I resumed temporary residence in Trinidad a few weeks ago I have developed “Flow fatigue”. Fatigue in this sense means both being made fun of and also being tired. We know from sports photography the wonders of slow motion or “slow-mo”. I have learnt from trying to install a cable television system that allows me simultaneous internet access and a landline the exasperation of “Slow-FLOW”.
Life has turned out to be like a Cabaret or “flow-show”. Whether by accident or design, by hook or by crook, cable television which started as several competing operations has ended up with the same monopoly that freeing-up the media in Trinidad and Tobago was expected to end. FLOW calls the shots and seems to make the ground-rules as it flows into the homes of an increasing number of citizens. It seems to have more authority than the Telecommunications Authority.
When I tried to get the FLOW service installed I was told I had to wait until after Christmas but they kindly squeezed me in after I begged. The technician came, claimed to have installed everything, and when he left the costly PVR (Personal Video Recorder) box wasn’t working, I couldn’t use the guide or change channels and the box kept rebooting. A box in one of the rooms was not even hooked up.
My son scheduled a service visit for the earliest appointment date. Late in the evening, after waiting for the entire day, he was told that the site visit had been shifted to the next day. FLOW did not have the courtesy to call and tell him although the company had our phone numbers. We then discovered that FLOW had tried to palm off an old box on us that was supposedly repaired and that the technician who initially “installed” the system had lied to me about what he was able to do in terms of where the internet modem could be located. Despite promises that I would not be charged for the period the system was not working properly, I just got a bill for almost $1,500 representing the full basic cable service for the month even though I did not have the full range of services for most of December.
What takes the cake, ice-cream and confectionary is that FLOW bill payments are due by the 30th of the month. The bill is generated on the first but from what my friends tell me it is not delivered until later in the month. When you try to pay through HILO or the banks there is a delay for which you may have to pay a late fee the amount of which the customer service people are unable to explain. The entire transaction and interaction with FLOW has left an extremely bad taste in my mouth. I understand that there is a satellite service which I will investigate but one thing I will try is to stop going with the flow and go without it.