For quite some time, Western Union Money Transfer service has worked well for me as a writer and editor based in Peshawar, Pakistan, and working freelance for American publishers. So it was a bit upsetting when I needed some money from home via Western Union and my cousin, who was to send it via my American friend, was told at a Western Union office in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Friday that they wouldn’t send money to a non-Muslim in America. Shocking, to be honest!
The Western Union office worker asked my cousin to provide him with a Muslim name and he would carry out the transaction. Aside from the stupidity of the Western Union worker, apparent from his guessing-from-name practice of deciding about one’s religion, the open exhibit of discrimination and refusal to serve on the basis of religion of the intended recipient struck me as far more than disagreeable. It was outrageous. Surely it’s not the Western Union’s policy to discriminate on the basis of religion; but such a popular money transfer service needs to watch the kind of people they employ or offer a franchise. Needing the money urgently, and knowing it was Saturday, I asked my cousin to send it directly to me as there appeared no easy alternative in view but to take the bother and waste an hour in getting the money in person.
Next morning, I got my cousin’s message that the money was sent to me via Money Gram as Western Union service was off in Peshawar on Saturday. Using an online search, I found the nearest Walmart store’s address and went there along with a trusted American friend, who was kind enough to drive me there, to receive my money. It went well. To save time, I didn’t bother counting the cash; just grabbed it off the counter as he placed it there, signed the receipt from, and left the store, saying thanks for the good service. The day that Peshawar’s Western Union Service had almost ruined for me was saved by Money Gram and Walmart. But something more was to unfold soon.
I didn’t count the money I got from Walmart until about 24 hours later, when, at my place, I took the money out to put it in a separate folder. Upon counting, I found an extra hundred dollars in the money. To be sure, I counted again several times; and it was clear that the Walmart worker had made an error in counting, giving me an extra hundred bucks. I took the phone and called the respective Walmart store, telling the customer service about the error and that I will be paying them another visit in the evening to return the extra money.
I did expect a “thank you” from Walmart but when my friend drove me there, the guy who had paid me said his thanks in a more rewarding way – a small gift card with a very cute Santa on it. Instead of using it to buy myself a snack or some item of use, I decided to keep it as a souvenir of the little adventure starting with the worry that Western Union worker’s religious prejudice in Peshawar will keep me from getting my money in time, then progressing with an extra hundred in my pocket without me knowing it, and all the way to the cute Santa card. Literally, bliss in Santa’s guise!