Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Training Programs

Although I really don’t want to make this a daily ritual - and the best explanation I can give for the reason that this jumps out at me first is because – English speaking persons read left to right – we open our newspapers in the front – and start at the top of the page, on the left side, in the very left corner. I grab the paper, pour half a cup of coffee, and stand over the kitchen counter, having opened the paper – left to right – and thus end up on the top of page two to begin reading, right here at Take a Stand. This is important. Remember this.

[Tomorrow I am going to start reading the paper from the middle – where the comics are – or from the back where the sports are. How is the Saudi team doing in the lacrosse thing? Is it over? Did they lose? Never mind. The second to the last page of today’s paper shows the Ukraine’s team, and thankfully it says “FIFA World Cup …” It’s soccer! Hey – here’s something – there have been more than thirty {30} singles “inspired by the World Cup will go head-to-head in a battle to top the British pop charts...” Who knew?!? The “list” of “Cup Songs” is shown. A sampling: Embrace: “World at your Feet,” Dreadzone: “Lion Shirt,” and Branded: “Tits Out for the Lads.” Well, alrighty then. Tits Out for the Lads. I would associate this with a group of Harley riders at “Bike Week,” not a bunch of soccer players. Out of the entire list the only person or group I’ve ever heard of is Toni Braxton. Hmm. I must really be out of the loop. I’ll find it and post it. Here it is, Cup Songs. And, now, because I surely will not be able to sleep without knowing, I am going to have to search for the lyrics to “Tits Out for the Lads.” What kind of “tune” would go to something like this? Here, how’s this, “Oh when the saints… go marching in… Oh when the Saints go marching in… Oh, how I want to be INNNN that number… When the Saints go marching in.” Yeah, sing it with me! Let’s do it again. “Oh when the saints… go marching in… Oh when the Saints go marching in… Oh, how I want to be INNNN that number… When the Saints go marching in.” Okay. Now, don’t you just HATE it when a little ditty gets stuck in your head and it plays over and over and over all day and you can’t lose it? The ONLY way you can feel any better about this – when it happens – is to share it with someone else. No, it doesn’t leave your “mind,” but just somehow knowing that you’ve passed this on to someone else ought to make you feel a little better. I know this works for me.]

[I did do a search for the lyrics of Branded’s, “Tits out for the Lads.” No luck. The single isn’t even being released until June 12th. UK Releases has it on a list. It’s in column one – if you read English, or column two – if you read Arabic. Just do a “find on this page” for the word “tits” and you’ll go right to it.]

Okay, something integral to my personality which you may or may not have figured out by now – I can ramble and get off track. But, only takes just but a minute to get back on… On the top of page two of the Saudi Gazette is the “Your Opinion Matters,” where three lucky candidates are chosen [from how many daily entries – no clue – at least three!]. The question of the day is, “Are training programs fulfilling the market needs?” Well, the question is a bit ambiguous, but we have our three winners. You surely thought I was off track, before I actually was, when I asked you to remember how English speakers read. Well, Arabic speakers read [and write – it is NOT easy] right to left. Remember this. So, of the three opinions stated, in response to the question, we have:

A man who claims the programs have been addressed “particularly” with regard to Saudi women. Huh?!? I was not schooled here in Saudi – I probably couldn’t go to school here even if I wanted to, I would not be allowed to [and this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a woman – but nationality]. I’m not one hundred percent familiar with all the regulations and the way this works, but my understanding is that unless there is an American school here, I would not be able to attend school – not the Saudi school system. Do they have special classes here in the “girl’s schools” [genders do not mix!] that prepare the Saudi women how to give orders to their maids and drivers? Is this where they prepare – or learn – how to wear their abeyas and the scarves, or Hijabs? Are there special studies that prepare the women for learning how to cut into the front of the line, or “queue” as it is called here, at the grocery stores and shops in the malls? They certainly aren’t prepared to work. They aren’t allowed to! And if they are prepared to work, in the lingerie shops – someday – what good is this preparation doing them now and how is it fulfilling the market? Well, okay, then. The three winners are all placed along side each other. This winner and his response are on the far left-hand side. Candidate number one – if you read in English – responds that the women have been prepared; this would be candidate number three if you read Arabic. [This is exactly why I stated earlier to remember this.]

Onto our next opinion, and this will be Candidate number two – either way – if you read English or Arabic – he’s in the middle… Number two. This particular candidate rambles on almost as well as I do… He believes that the sponsors of the training programs should be “in sync” with the markets. Anyone care to venture a guess here as to what this means? Anyone? “In sync” with which markets – the stock market? The real estate market? The vegetable market? The livestock market? The automobile market? The tourism market? So many to choose from. And the trainers aren’t “in sync?” Candidate number two also believes that “Young Saudis who are not property trained or not trained in jobs required by the market will not be able to compete in the open market [got it – he means vegetable market! Why didn’t he just say this at the beginning, then]. Strategic job management is what is needed in our training programs. I’m sure someone with a much higher degree than I have can decipher this for me. It must mean something. My take on this? Umm, I don’t think that a whole lot of training is required to have someone tend to a produce stall in the open market. You show them what produce they need to sell – carrots, lettuce, onions – and tell them how much each of the different vegetable items should be sold for. It’s not rocket science. It’s salad!

As far as “strategic job management,” again, anyone with anything higher than an Associate’s Degree – feel free to jump in and take over for me on this, but if I were to try to guess what this means, my response would be, “There is not a whole lot of management required for a vegetable stand.” We all, however, know how this will work out. There will be a dozen or so managers. We’ll need the CEO for carrots, the CEO for lettuce and the CEO for onions. Each of the CEO’s will need an assistant CEO. We’re up to six employment opportunities, using this formula. There will need to be a manager of determining freshness of the produce for each of the three assistant CEO’s, along with a manager for determining the price. We are now up to twelve management positions for one produce stand selling three vegetables. However, there is still no person to actually be responsible for handling the produce – putting it into it’s respective bin, spraying it down with water occasionally to keep it fresh and crisp [looking, anyway], and someone to weigh the produce and smile at the customer and thank them for purchasing carrots or lettuce or onions and take the Riyals that the customer hands over – oh wait – sorry – my mistake – thirteen managers – a manager is ALWAYS responsible for taking the money.

I do believe that if this whole blogging thing doesn’t work out for me for one reason or another I could possibly do the job of training – at least for the “open markets.” I think I covered about everything, here. I was able to do it in two long paragraphs. That would require, what, maybe a half hour of “training” time in a classroom setting? I’m pretty sure, if I was getting paid to do this, I could drag it out long enough to qualify for at least a two-year degree program. Any takers?

Finally, we have candidate number three – if you read English – number one if you read Arabic – this candidate’s picture and response is on the right-hand side. I see this gentleman’s last name, Al-Zamil, and wonder if he is part of the Zamil family of the “dry goods stores here.” But of course he is… I’m sure he probably is. I like the Zamil’s store we have in Khobar, it is well stocked – if they don’t have what you are looking for, they are willing to get it for you if you just ask – the help is pleasant [this is where I had the run-in with the woman who tried to cut in front of me while I was being waited on but this has nothing to do with the help – this was just a rude woman who’d been “prepared” in both the areas of fully covering in black and rudely cutting in front of other people {see Candidate one, in English, or three, in Arabic – where the women are prepared to do this}].

[As an aside, yes, I had a run-in with a woman who could clearly see that the clerk was helping me – well, maybe she couldn’t clearly see, her face WAS entirely covered, but she must have been able to see enough to known where she had to go to “cut” in front of me. This had happened to me a few times before. I was still a relative new-comer in The Kingdom and not knowing what would happen – to me – to the situation – to my husband – whatever – if I didn’t let one of these black figures cut in front of me, I let it happen several times – probably four or five – until this one – the one at Zamil’s. I believe I was patient in this regard far longer than I ever would have been had this have happened in another country. At some point, you just say, “Enough is enough.” Well the morning this happened at Zamil’s was that “turning” point for me. It was long before I started taking any Arabic classes, so I wasn’t going to be able to communicate with this black figure in her native language, but there is a “universal language” and had this black figure wanted to pursue the issue with me any further than she did, I’m inclined to think that the universal language I’m referring to would have communicated my intent that she was NOT cutting in front of me quite clearly. As it was, it only took a minute or two for her to figure this out without the universal language.]

Mr. Al-Zamil is the ONLY candidate who gives a clear, no-nonsense response to a question that is far from clear or no-nonsense: “Our training programs are missing their targets. There is a huge difference between the needs and the goals. There is also a big gap between the needs and the skills being imparted to our youth. We have to be realistic in our training program otherwise unemployment with continue to grow.”

Ding, ding, ding!!! Folks, we have a winner!!! Candidate number three – in English, or Candidate number one – in Arabic – you are today’s winner, and yesterday’s to, for as much sense as that all made.

Really, is it that difficult to answer a question in a direct, straight to the point manner?

Anyone reading this in the Dhahan / Khobar area, please, by all means do shop at the Zamil’s and give this family your business. It is a rare businessman, indeed – the world wide, not just here in Saudi – that will give you an honest, straight forward answer. And, Mr. Zamil, let me add, it was quite refreshing!

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