Owning a telephone in Hong Kong (and China)

I own a couple of mobile phones. Two of which have a local Hong Kong SIM card in them — others are just for testing, I just use WiFi on them, but I digress. That’s not the point. I don’t have a house phone, however. Or an office phone. Which seems to annoy, for some reason, people who think they have to have a landline number for me. Like banks, the government, and others, intent on emptying my bank account. Sorry folks, I can only be reached, if at all, through one of my mobile phones.

It just so happens that one of the phones I own, with a SIM card in it, is not really a phone. At least, I don’t see it as a phone. Hello Magritte. Ceci n’est pas un téléphone. This is a 3G-enabled micro tablet. No mi amor, sorry ah, gomen ne, not a phone. I know, it has a phone number, and technically, this number could be called. And is, by plenty of people I never heard of. Except. This old Nexus S has a nifty application called Firewall, and it is set on “Block All Calls”. Yup, all. Plus, the dial icon is hidden. As I said, not a phone. A micro tablet. Yupskies.

Now, on the subject of calling, and expecting me to answer. MWAHAHAHA! Really. Apparently my phone numbers (including the one that I never pick up because Firewall just hangs up on them) have been sold multiple times by everybody and Mrs Chan, their mother. And they’ve been sold to everybody and Mrs Lee, their Auntie. Apparently. And they think they have a right to peddle their crap to me, through calls and SMS.

The problem is compounded by the fact that I have a phone with THREE phone numbers in the SIM card: HK, China, Macau. The Macau number has not been sold to anyone apparently, for I never get any phones calls from Macau — just the usual avalanche of Casino-related SMS every time I arrive in this cesspool of gambling and prostitution. But I digress, again. On the other hand, I get a bazillion of phone calls on the HK number, and calls + SMS on the Chinese number.

Some of the Chinese SMS are hilarious: love letters from “my wife” (they call me 老公, so that’s my wives, right?); people giving me their (updated) bank account so that I don’t forget to send them the money I apparently owe them (I always feel like sending them a goatsee pic entitled “receipt.pdf” but so far I managed not to…); announcements for various exhibitions and events.

I picked up a couple of calls from China, just for kicks, but they weren’t much fun. No spweekee Engriss. And most of the time 唔識講白話 either. So now phone calls from Big6 are treated like other calls:

  • Unknown Number: nofanks.
  • Number not in my (very large) address book: nofanks.
  • Number in my address book: depends. Maybe, maybe not. Probably not, though.

Also, my phone doesn’t ring. Yeah, the one that actually accepts calls. It doesn’t vibrate either. It’s set on silent. Permanently. When I get a phone call — assuming I haven’t turned the network off and just kept WiFi on of course… — the screen display the call and info, and that’s it. No ringee. No vibree. Terima kasih.

Of course, since I spend a large fraction of my time on the phone — mostly emails and chat applications though — I miss (involuntarily) very few calls. And the ones I do miss, so what? They can call again — they’ll have to, as I don’t have voicemail, despite the fact that some people think I do: they heard some Chinese and a beep. Well, learn yerself some Chinese, buddy, for that message was not a voicemail announcement: it was telling you that I am not unavailable, and to try again later. Woopsies.

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