Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sprechen sie vous' englais?

"you're in America, speak American g'dammit!"  If I had a nickle for every time I've heard this said over the years,...well I'd probably have about a buck, maybe only 50 cents.  And it almost always comes from some inbred moron that the rest of us usually shun.  But still, I know that the sentiment exists in America, and I've been told many times that the fastest way to get ripped off or have bad service in Paris is to sit at a cafe and speak English...That being said, English is the international language of Business and Medicine, and according to the Saudi Ministry of Education, by decree of the King, all higher education should be taught in English.  Yeah...right...what happened is what happens in all bureaucracy, the workers got the memo, gave it a lot of lip service and then promptly went back to what they've always done.  Which is not English...its not even spanglish...its just Arabic.  So what happened today to bring on this tirade?  Well it started (Part 1) when I failed 75% of the students I tested, mostly for English ability and not lack of knowledge...That flew like a lead duck...its ok though, they know I "don't understand" "the culture".  So they will all "re-test" tomorrow and pass.  Their instructors will prompt them, give them hints, translate the English and then translate the Arabic into pictures they can understand...FML.  Really guys, really?  Why did you bring me here?  Why are you paying me as much as you are?  I could have found you a white guy who would have faked the funk for 1/4 of the money...Oh wait that wouldn't have worked...I forgot you need me because I can actually talk the talk and walk the brought me here as a pet monkey...something to show off when the smart Arabs come a callin'!  That's right, I'm a trophy program director to show off at official functions, and to shove to the front when the ministry comes to visit.  Really, don't worry, I'm not that proud, my feelings aren't hurt, but if this is what you wanted me to do, why make me go to work?  Just park my ass in a hotel with some of that illegal booze the Royal family uses, better yet, stick me in a palace that nobody's using and tell me that I can't leave the grounds but when you call.  I mean seriously, you have something in the neighborhood of 700 princes, I know they're not all at home!  hell one of them is going to be getting life in prison in the UK for the "non-sexually related" murder of his "bodyguard" that he liked to drug and club with and keep in the bedroom for "safety's sake"...Americans are not mushrooms, we do not like to be kept in the dark and fed shit (though you could argue that with the media in the US that's exactly what we are!)

So what else...well part 2 of today's SNAFU tour -KSA! (Hellloooo RIYADH!!!!  YEAH!  Are you ready to ROCK!!!)  My salary is still bouncing around Riyadh somewhere, while here I am stationed in Dammam...c'mon guys, you're killing me, were 4 days late, my bills are past due and all anybody keeps saying is "In'shallah, tomorrow"...Absolutely no disrespect to Allah or God, but to paraphrase another writers paraphrase of the prophet Mohammed (PBUH), "be wise and tie your camel, then trust in Allah"...get my drift?  Somebody in some office was facebooking instead of telling somebody in another office that "that Geoff guy got sent to Dammam", now their all passing the buck and blaming this on Allah, how the heck is this his fault?  You're the one that didn't do your job!  Allah did his job....the sun came up, humanity survived, what more do you want? 

Part 3 of this goat roap came when I was sitting in a photography studio after work, getting some additional pic's taken for my work Visa, (I think this makes 20 pictures submitted) and the Saudi Token "sitter arounder" guy, leaned over the counter and told us to shush.  Romes and I thought it was because their were other customers in the store so we hushed for a minute, the other customers left, and we resumed talking about work...this fat lazy sob leans back over the counter and starts yelling in Arabic to Romeo (he won't look at me) "don't you know Arabic?  Only speak Arabic in my store, speak Arabic or be silent!"  Oh hell no I think, I'm a blue passport holder you son a of a bitch, so I ask him what the problem is, he won't answer me, Romes says we are customers, and he should not speak to us in that manner, he makes the universal gesture for "pardon me sir, but I don't give a shit" and then walks into the back, no doubt to let his fat ass take another nap while the Indians who run his store, clean his store and take all the pictures sheepishly apologize to us...

Part 4:  Were wandering around during prayer, and Romes shows me the Gold and Diamond souks he's been telling me about, which are really cool and I'm finally starting to get over the photoshop idiot when the Muttawa and his pet cop walk by...and yell at us to move on (because looking in a window to buy something for your wife is against Allah or something)...funny thing is, that again the cop was a fat guy who couldn't chase down his own shadow without stopping for kapsa, the muttawa didn't say a word, and when I said/asked innocently "I'm sorry I don;t understand", they realized I was an American and quickly moved on with a look of disgust on the cops face...So Muttawa encounter #1!

Part 5:  5 saved the day, it's the one that deserves the most attention, when finally done with errands, I took a cab back to the hotel, the cabbie was a young Saudi guy who couldn't believe he got to try out his English on me, then he insisted on turning the radio to the Aramco station and blared Katy Perry and Trane or train or whatever their called the whole drive.  Icing on the cake, I accidentally gave him a five and a fifty rather than two fives, and he suddenly corrected me saying "no! no!"  "this is a fifty" while pointing at the bill.  It took me a minute to figure it out, but when I did I could've hugged the guy, considering I haven't gotten paid yet and I'm borrowing money, he did me a huge favor! I gave him a good tip which I almost never do with cabbies here and my view of the kingdom and the world suddenly improved...

Lessons learned?  Be patient, never assume payday means you're getting paid, learn a little more Arabic and most importantly Bureaucrats, Professors, Doctors, Business Owners, Important religious Zealots and Law Enforcement can destroy a country's feeling and represent it in a really crappy light, but we all have the chance to represent the true nature of our cultures.  I hope that I represent America in a positive light every day, I try, too hard sometimes, but if we want to live to see our grandchildren play without glowing, I think we should all try a little harder.

Glad I met that cabbie, he more than all the others today (including me) is probably in Allah's good graces.


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