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.