We visited Tonys phone shop numerous times while in Pristina
to make calls. He worked alone in a one-room office with a desk
full of mobile phonesnot to sell but to rent. As long as there
was electricity, or the batteries held out, his phones were the
easiest access to the world outside of Kosovo. The ironic thing
was that it was far easier to call the U.S. than it was to call
across town. At the time, Belgrade still controlled the phone system
and was eager to cash in on the overseas calls but wasnt interested
in helping the Kosovars make local calls.
Many people blamed the incessant traffic jams to the
fact that to talk to someone, the only reliable means was to get
in your car and drive.
Tony said he was just a worker. Someone
else owned the business while he worked seven days a week, ten hours
a day for $200 a month. This was more than a doctor made but less
than half what he would make working as a driver for UNMIK or one
of the 300 organizations operating in Kosovo. He was concerned that
he had no time for a social life and was hoping to get another job.
Six months later when we returned to Kosovo, Tonys
shop was replaced by a womens clothing store.