Monday, September 15, 2008

Having said that...

Due the letter below featured in 7days newspaper - I'm going to demonstrate how a real unadulterated whine is done! Gripe of the week ( hour / minute ) - Call centre operators. They don't listen , they don't apologise , they repeat the first inadequate solution to your problem over and over again , as if they haven't heard you the first time while you patiently told them why this "solution " would not solve anything !

My conversation went something like this :

ME : So basically I have been without any money for just under a week and the last 4 times I called you you promised me you would courier a cheque book to me so that I could pay my rent and preferably not become homeless. How is that going? I still haven't received a cheque book or new debit card . Its been almost a week .

Operator: Ok Ma'am , you have two options. You can come to the branch and collect your cheque book , or I can put in an urgent request to get it delivered.

M: I can't come to the branch . I have a job and I cant leave it to travel across the city .

O:Ok , Ma'am , you have two options . You can come to the branch and collect your cheque book , or I can put in an urgent request to get it delivered.

M : But this is the umpteenth time I have called you since ordering that cheque book - and each time you tell me you will put in an urgent request for me - these urgent requests aren't working and I am getting closer and closer to homelessness. Isn't there something else you can do ?

O: Ok Ma'am , you have two options. You can come to the branch and collect your cheque book , or I can put in an urgent request to get it delivered.

I think you get the gist . I also think I was speaking to a machine after this repeated answer was fired at me for the 10th time . Incidentally , all this is holding for 30 minutes . I have repeated this charade with them for the entire week .

Miraculously , today , somebody actually put me through to their supervisor - who also told me she couldn't do anything because it was Ramadan and everything was closed. But she will call me back tomorrow . I wont hold my breath ! Meanwhile - today was the day I was supposed to move apartments . But its ok , because apparently ,I have two options.....

Now we all know that customer service is Dubai ( while improving ) is shocking at best. A colleague of mine lived in Malawi for 15 years and said it was oodles more efficient than here. I tend to believe her.
There is something about customer service employees such as the ones in my bank that sees them just blindly following rules that serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. They do not question why this inane rule is in place ,or why the system can't respond to a customer's most common query. And why do things remain the same? Because the style of management in Dubai is so pedantic , so "how dare you question my authority" that nobody wants to think outside the box and draw attention to themselves. Hence mediocrity reigns in Dubai .

I have no wasta whatsoever, and it seems that in this country , the lack of the latter means you will be sitting pretty for some time while employee blindly follow rules that don't fit ! You can build all the fancy towers you want Dubai , but if the simplest of things becomes like rocket science ( it has to be signed off by four people before an answer is given , no matter what the request ) you are still trailing behind a third world country in terms of actually getting things done !
Cant wait to see what happens when I try the monumental task of ( gasp shock horror ) registering my car!!!!!!!!!!!!!

perfect comment

I saw this letter in today's 7days newsaper. The thing about living here is , there is always something to get up your nose, but because you know that there are plenty of people in a far worse situation than you - you have to preface your complaining with lots of "don't get me wrong" 's and " I realise that .. " and so on and so forth .
I think that the author of this letter was trying to do just that , however I dont think he counted on the wise ass comment that soon followed. priceless! :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eye Opener to the kindness of strangers

We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life , particularly here in Dubai . We rush around, trying to sort out our own problems and its generally a "me, me , me " existence. Well yesterday, one of the guys who works in our admin came to me and told me I had a puncture just as I was preparing to leave and start my weekend .

The next 5 ( count 'em , 5 ) hours were a nice lesson in patience and empathy for me ! It seems that the spare wheel on my car is more than just a little complicated to access. Changing the tyre on the car is the kind of thing I don't practise - and I will put my hands up and admit it - I simply don't want to / cant do it !After one hour where my boss and several of or security staff and cleaners had their heads stuck under the rear of my car , I finally called 24 hour assistance - and they headed home - genuinely deflated ( pardon the pun ) that they couldn't fix my problem !

And so I sat , in my school's car park - for about 2 hours , watching the comings and goings of the neighbourhood. In that time , I was brought countless cups of coffee by our stellar security guard with whom I have never had much more than a passing "hello" relationship. Turns out that this guy , who hails from Madras in India , has a B.A. in English Literature, a penchant for country and western music , and gets up in the morning at 3.30 ( yes, you read that correctly ) to prepare for his 12 hour working day.His is such a wasted mind in this country , and it has everything to do with his passport! He was telling me that of his 1000 dh pay cheque , 700 dh wings its way home to support his parents, wife and to pay for his sisters M.A. This is the same guy I whinge to when I arrive after my battle with traffic each morning . I get up at 5 and am at work by 6.15. He gets up at 3.30 and is at work by 6.15 thanks to a bus that wanders everywhere. This intelligent and grateful man lives in a room with 8 other men and has taken to sending all his valuable possessions back to India after he got tired of them being pilfered in his own accommodation . Incidentally, I have never once heard him complain - on the contrary , his disposition is positively cheery !

At long last , to the back drop of the iftar call to prayer , my knights in shining armour came and speedily sorted out my spare wheel . I happily set off , thinking my "hardship" was over. I drove for long enough to get onto the main highway , when I smelled burning rubber - yes, my spare tyre has burst . Discovering I had no call credit and very little battery on my phone- I decided to stay put and hope for another knight in shining armour. I didn't have to wait long - two young local guys skidded to a halt and reversed back up the highway ( I couldn't bare to watch ). They immediately set about jacking up my car again and tried to remove the spare wheel - making their dish dasha's filthy - before I finally got it across to them that I needed to get to a tyre shop. I made the necessary calls and they went on their merry way .

Next helpful passer by was a South African man , who was gung ho and ready to work - pulling up his sleeves as he hopped out of the jeep - I again explained the situation and he too went on his way.

By the time the recovery vehicle arrive ( take 2 ) I was jetted off to a repair shop in Rashidya , where I opted to have a new tyre. The tyre shop was small, grotty and had no AC , the Pakistani repair guys were so helpful and efficient.The recovery guy kindly drove around the area trying to find a bank machine that didn't reject at least one of my cards ( a big thank you to citibank for not telling me they had cancelled my account due to the security breach ! ) Finally , 5 hours later , I was on my way home , got lost twice , was harassed in the lifts by an over zealous Egyptian and fell in the door where I found a clean apartment and a cooked dinner waiting for me .

I really need to stop whinging ... life could be a lot worse and when I put my head down on the pillow last night , I felt more than just a little embarrassed about my excessive whining about petty things that bug me here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Calm again...

Re: Road Raging! Ok , I am feeling a little better now ! I felt like Mrs. Bouquet (/ Bucket ) when I called the Sharjah Police ( I'm SURE I heard him laugh as he passed the phone to a colleague ) , and I manage to hit the car in front because I was so vehemently guarding my space in an hour long queue ! According to recent studies , I am suffering from some kind of mental disorder - but to those who know me , this will come as no surprise! Apparently I all need is a visit to this website to iron out any deficiencies I may have in exhibiting a zen like calm on the road at 6.30 am.

Having researched the issue briefly ( and I when I say briefly , I mean , oh, a minute ) , I have come to the conclusion that my road rage was perfectly reasonable . I was obeying the rules of the road - others were not - the actions of "others" were causing my blood pressure to rise and from there it goes. I think this is fair enough . I am allowed to get p*&^d off when I see someone breaking the law , and even more so when this law breaking has directly interfered with me , Right? I mean , let me put it like this , I have decided that my ranting on a blog is far safer than the actions of the man who decided it was his place to reverse over a woman in his hummer this year in Dubai . Funnily enough , this man has still not been brought to justice. Apparently it had something to do with his number plate being very easy to remember ... or so a friend informed me recently .

Anyway , I write this from a starbucks in the city, as I attempted to go home via the emirates road at around 3.30 but made the wise decision to turn back ! Yes , it seems that not only are Ramadan mornings hazardous , but so too are the evenings, as people rush home - starved and dehydrated . Emirates road , in the parts where you can move , resemble a grand prix racing track - I'm just waiting to see burning tyres on the side of the road. Honestly , your heart would be in your mouth to drive in these kind of conditions , and I'm saying this as a confident driver.I'm echoing a fellow bloggers sentiments about this , but i really hope i don't see carnage on the roads this year , because , at the moment , I associate Ramadan with a couple of things - anger and dangerous driving being two of those things - now I'm sure that's not the intended message Muslims would like to portray!!! Please , please , slow down - get there alive and hungry - its preferable to not getting there at all!

Monday, September 1, 2008

My own personal road rage

I thought about putting a title picture on this post. The only on that comes to mind is a picture of a white ( through rage ) knuckled hand gripping the steering wheel of a car !
The thing is , I have had almost 24 hours in which to calm down about these events - however I can feel the pure unadulterated rage is still very accessible to me , even at this point .
Allow me to share the scene , its the first morning of Ramadan , most offices don't begin until 9 - my place of work will open its doors at 8 . I approach this with a naive and gormless optimism - I mean surely this means I will spend less time in traffic - right? If I give myself enough time to pull out of my parking space ( has been known to take up to 20 minutes - thank you very much courteous fellow motorists ), and then one I get onto Emirates road , it should be plane sailing !

HA! How frigging stupid of me to let my imagination place me on Emirates road without a hitch . Didn't my addled brain realise that I would have the automatic brigade driving so far up each others arses , that even my most aggressive driving skills would mean that my pushing onto a slip road would take well over half an hour ( I am , at this point , still walking distance from my lovely , lovely home in Sharjah), but this , I can recover from . The following , however , took its toll on my mental health that morning !

IF , on the 1st of September , YOU found yourself blocked on the hard shoulder by an Irish woman in a battered old sports car , yes, it was me . I was the one with steam coming out my ears - who sat , 500 metres from the entrance to Emirates road for over an hour , while YOU in your generic landcruiser and or newer flashy f&*king sports car sat behind me flashing the lights and sitting on your horn for 5 minutes at a time. These idiots fly up the hard shoulder ( lets not even bother to address the issue of those special little people who wait until they are AT the exit to join the queue ) and make the rest of us sit for hours at a time.
So, note for this coming morning
1) I don't care if you are a top exec in some oh so important job - you clearly should never have been given a licence and I'll be damned if I'm going to let you through this morning .
2) Kindly note , that due to the fact that it is Ramadan , I will not be smoking my way through traffic today - however , I will still be stuck in my car - IE : don't piss me off
3) Please be aware , that two toots of your horn , and I will get out of my f^&king car and verbally harass you at your drivers window, and I WILL be questioning why the hell you feel you have more of a right to get to work than me, and why it is you feel it should only take you 10 minutes to do so !

And finally , please note , that I am all to0 aware that while you sit , a good head and shoulders in height higher than me in your ridiculously huge jeep , you don't have a bloody leg to stand on , nor do you have the balls to do anything more than throw me an ice cold stare as I block you from making a fast get away down the hard shoulder while the rest of us idiots queue like morons because we were under the impression that the rules of the road apply .

This coming morning , if the situation calls for it , I will be lighting cigarettes and tossing them into car windows to express my annoyance . Don't give me the " I'm fasting excuse " - this will all be at 6am - you wont be hungry by then and this morning - I am taking no prisoners.

Who says Dubai doesn't make you racist? I will play a little game with it this morning. When I find somebody trying to bum rape my car on the approach to said exit on emirates road , I will close my eyes , and predict with 95% accuracy the ethnicity , gender and age group of the offender - no cheating - I swear . And just watch , I will be correct in my estimations. I don't care if you started driving when you were 10 years old in your home country and have some bad habits .. this morning , I will be calling the police on your sorry ass - and I actually don't mind getting in a fender bender with you in the name of road safety and fairness. I MAY drive a sports convertible , but I was still in high school when my car was in its hay day - I'm not beyond getting a few bumps and grazes to prove my point - I ain't THAT precious about it !