Monday, 21 January 2008

I've got my CRANKY PANTS on ... again

I swear to the good Baby Jesus, one of these days I'm going to go absolutely mental in town and murder someone. Or break something. Or run someone over for the sheer pleasure of it. Having had Jono here for 9 days and being here for most of that time, I've had a rather unpleasant refresher course in "all things Dubai".

Translation: this country's complete inability to be competant in anything.

Whether it be:

  • the spelling on road signs
  • the ability to drive in a straight line in ONE lane
  • being able to print a bill for a meal at a restaurant and deliver it to the right table - there's a novel idea!
  • putting headlights on in BLINDING RAIN
  • desiging roads to withstant more than a 1mm rainfall
  • declaring a public holiday and closing all major roads because a foreign figurehead came to town

and my personal favourite:

replacing a pair of broken shoes at the uniform store

You'd think it was goddam rocket science.

Within a week of each other, both pairs of my crappy Clarks work shoes have broken. The heels were teetering on collapse, as they came unglued from the sole of the shoe (very safe for prancing through airports) and my cabin shoes (super ugly flat brown shoes that even Ugly Betty wouldn't be seen DEAD in) busted up in-flight on I don't know what. One minute I looked down and my shoes were talking!

After lugging the heels into the uniform store on New Years Eve morning to get them replaced, I was informed that this was my 6 month entitlement replacement. I argued that they were broken and shoudn't be "replaced" as my entitlement but replaced because they were broken, leaving me able to replace my other shoes when they might need it. We get to change one pair of stinky shoes over every 6 months, which ever we think are in the worst condition. He said tough luck. So, am I surprised the next week then the flat ones broke? Not really, just miffed I'd have to waste more time going in there again.

Expecting an arguement, as this outside the 6 month time frame, I had a grooming report written and swanned in there today and asked for them to be changed. It was like a rude slap in the face with the bum-wiping hand of a homeless person from any one of the many third-world sub-continent countries we fly to when I was told that I'd have to pay for them. Now, let's not get deluded into thinking that I wear fabulous Manolos to work - they're crappy brown flat shoes that reek to high heaven of plane carpet. I purchased a new pair of heels last year because I was told to change over to the new uniform quick smart (we don't even want to THINK about how terrible your old uniform shoes look, even though they're in perfect condtion), so I thought I'll be damned if I going to fork out for new shoes AGAIN. This girl's got better things to spend her money on! Whether it be David Gray tickets or endless dinners when sexy boys called Jon come to town, work shoes are NOT a purchasable priority for me.

Well, my quick trip to the uniform store quickly escalated into an almost brawl with the uniform dispenser, the purchasing of the Cabin Crew Grooming Manual (yes, it exists and MUST be carried on all flights) and arguing the rules. I lost.

So I involved the higher up Grooming Gods, also known as the fierce and feared Grooming Nazis. Sometimes they lie in wait for us when we return from flights at 4am and pick on us for having stray strands of hair or not enough lipstick on. Needless to say, they've got plenty of time to do 'proper' work. The leader of the pack was out to lunch, so after waiting for her return, she marhced me back down to the uniform-basement-with-no-windows quicker than you could say "my shoes are broken and I need new ones but the man downstairs said I have to pay for them and I don't want to". So, with a terse look and a few sharp words exchanged between her and the dispensers, I'm now the proud new owner of a pair of brown cabin shoes. Oh, where will I wear them first?

I've seen some corker road signs during my two years here, my favourite being "sorry for the convenience-incon" in a really badly congested traffic area. Sadly I didn't have my camera with me that day. At work last week, I saw a sign that said "Dead Slow" - no doubt written by someone somewhere in the UK with a dreadful accent who says everything is "dead pissed", "dead busy" and "dead ugly". Clearly traffic on a tarmac is "dead slow". I can honestly say I've heard all three come out of the mouth of one of my Irish friends.

Last week, Dubai had it's yearly rainfall and as it does every year, it caused CHAOS. The roads are so poorly built that its not a question of if the roads will cope when the skies open, but a derivative snicker of how crap they are and what a pathetic job the Roads and Transport Authority are doing. Are they doing ANYTHING? There are no drains, so water just floods the streets, cars float away, people probably play in it and drown and traffic grinds to a slippery screeching halt.

Our beloved (and more often detested for its traffic) Sheikh Zayed road is a 10 lane highway - it's rare to actually see traffic flowing on it the way cars on a highway should. Well, during the rain, there was no flow, but I witnessed gushing flood-water and the disappearance of approximately 2/3 of the road on each side. The morons who live in this country (expats with valid drivers licences excluded) don't know what to do - so they all do wanky stuff like put their hazard lights on and leave their headlights off, switch lanes without indicating but at a greater speed than normal and tailgate and not increase stopping distances. Is it no wonder there is such chaos and I want to run people over?

Our expeditions out and about during the rainfall did yeild one very interesting road sign sighting: "Beware floods: watch for water ponds".

Right......just how likely is it to find a 'water pond' in the middle of a 10 lane highway? Evidently it's very possible in Dubai.


Another interesting incident last week: Little Georgie Porgie from downtown Texas graced the Middle East with a presidential visit and caused even more chaos than the flash flooding. We'd heard his highness was visiting at some stage but didn't realise that while none of us would meet him, it would affect us all far more than we expected.

Late on Sunday evening, the bright sparks that run this government announced that Monday would be a public holiday and that ALL major roads would be CLOSED. Right. were all of us plebs supposed to get anywhere? We weren't. Or we were supposed to use back roads and leave our homes 5 hours before we were actually wanting to arrive at our destinations. I pity any tourists unlucky enough to encounter both the rain and the traffic gridlock. Dubai is not the glittering, fabulous, well designed and super-deluxe place it's advertised to be. Our building has a bird's eye view of the main road and waking up on Tuesday morning was like looking down at a ghost town. There was NO traffic on the road. Every now and then a lone police crusier would drive along looking very out of place. Now, the need for all of these road closures were not explained, but the reason announced was the piss-poor "because Mr Bush is in town".

So what? Does this mean the beacause he's squirreled away in the Sheikh's palace with all the roaming puma and peacocks that we have to shut down our ENTIRE CITY? Rumour has it that he didn't even use the closed roads to enter Dubai - he FLEW IN on Air Force One from Abu Dhabi airport and then flew out of our airport bound for Saudi. So I hear you asking, why close all the roads if he wasn't even using them? And why announce a public holiday? Good questions.....clearly it's just another excuse for these people to have a holiday. Like they don't have enough already.

Don't even get me started on all the other ridiculous holidays this country honours - yet ex-pat children from Christian countries aren't allowed to have a Nativity Scene in their schools at Christmas because it might "offend" the Muslim kids? Bah humbug.

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