Out and about today... Just the errands thing. The ones I am allowed to do on my own without requiring a driver and a black bag. All of the errands were well within walking distance - and I do occasionally walk to the library and back, but not today. I drove. Should have walked, but since I needed to go pick up DH's uniforms at the cleaners and go to the store for red peppers and onions and milk and orange juice and a couple other things which I didn't get because I forgot my list and I'm getting old so I forget things if I do not have my list. Damit! Light bulbs were on the list - but nooo - couldn't possibly have remembered those...
In the past couple of years there has been pretty much a complete staff turnover at the library... Asians - Filipinos, primarily, used to be in charge of most of the day-to-day functions such as checking in / out library books and other materials, restocking the shelves, making sure you didn't have outstanding fines, all those kinds of jobs. Nothing supervisory or managerial, mind you. Just the other stuff. Then, a couple of years ago that changed and those positions were given to locals. The cleaning and other such functions are the only positions that are available for anyone but locals to fill. The young girls that worked the counter when the change took place were very nice - all young, sweet. Genuinely interested in assisting patrons and doing so in such a way that you know that they were either pleased to be there or perhaps just happy to have any job and be out of their houses. Who knows. There are a couple of men that work there - at the counter now. For the most part they are just as friendly or as pleasant as the young women were. I still see a couple of the young women, but they have obviously been promoted to other positions - one of them works at the reference desk, now.
So, today, I've got four books that I am returning and they are all three days late - so I know I am going to owe 12 riyals [$3.21]. I walk in and go to the counter to get the books checked in and pay the fine. One young man is working. I've not seen him before - he must be new. [Oh, and by the way - someone needs to offer you some advice as to a dress code. Those Western clothes you were wearing were barely borderline acceptable for ANY place of employment!] He is busy checking out a young man with CD's or DVD's. I don't mind that someone is new and that they have a learning curve at the beginning where they have to figure out what it is they are actually supposed to be doing and how to best accomplish those tasks. So, he was slow [understatement]. No biggie. I've got all afternoon - not in a big race to be home in twenty minutes or something. He's doing his job - helping another library customer and I'm waiting.
As the young local man in the most obnoxious Western attire you have ever seen is dealing with the young male who is getting either music or movies - I wasn't paying attention - a family came out of the children's section. A father, a woman [mother? probably] dressed in the requisite head-to-toe black, two young little girls - I'd guess the younger one was probably three or four and the older one was between six and eight; the family had their maid in tow, as well. The woman stood with her back to everyone - facing a wall - clutching her Chanel bag and very quietly talking on her mobile. [No one goes anywhere, here, without their mobiles. Ever!] She was talking so quietly it was almost a whisper - she could barely be heard - in fact, if she wouldn't have turned around and faced her family a couple of times so that I could see that she had her mobile clutched to the side of her black-clad head, I probably would never have known she was even talking on the phone. It was the maid that caught my attention. I refuse to believe that she did not have a black and blue eye - only it wasn't really black and blue - just very, very red and puffy all over - her eye only half-opened. If it wasn't for the redness and puffiness, I'd figure she just had a lazy eye or something [there's a medical term for this, but I don't know what it is] - like Michelle Obama has, and Paris Hilton.
Young local man in tacky loud Western attire continues to check out young local man's CD's or DVD's - he had quite a little stack - and they all have to be opened and checked [and apparently rechecked and rechecked - you know, to make sure that whatever is in the case is actually what is supposed to be in the case]. I am standing there - I was second in line until the family of four + maid got to the counter. Out of nowhere comes a local teenage girl and she slammed her one book on the counter and shoved it at the lone worker - like he is supposed to stop what he is doing and immediately check her book out. What the?!? She is standing right next to me. She says something in Arabic and the worker nods. She pushes the book - practically in the worker's lap - and I said, "Excuse me. He is busy helping him and we are next in line," making the appropriate hand gestures to the young local man with the discs and the family and me." Oh my gosh. If looks could kill - I wouldn't have to wait to slip and fall and crack my head open on the new pool tile steps! I'd be dead, now! [Yes, the teenage girl was dressed in black; her hair was covered but not her face.] The man with the family nodded at me - as if to say, "thanks." Hey, someone has to do it.
What was almost as abhorrent as the young local teenage girl's attitude was her repugnant aroma. Psst. The bottle says a quick spray - not a bath in the stuff! Sweet and repugnant. Can those two words be used together? I have no idea what perfume she was wearing. I won't have to worry about finding out the name - I will never forget the smell. I can still taste it as I sit here at my computer a couple of hours later typing. She managed to permeate every last fiber of both my smell and taste sensations. I probably smell like she did. So does everyone else - the family of four + maid, the library worker and the guy who checked out all of those CD/DVD's. So aroma gal isn't happy with me, and Mr. New at the Job Worker doesn't have a clue what he is doing. He finally - finally - called someone to come help him. Only that someone couldn't open up the other computer to help the rest of us because Mr. New at the Job Worker had managed to get his computer hung up and couldn't get the little library check slips [that say when the book is due - no more cards - little receipts, now] printed.
Family of four + maid were fine for three, four, five minutes... Now three or four year old little girl is starting to use the counter's edge to lift herself up on and swing back and forth - I don't know that I can adequately describe this movement. But it involved two little hands on the top of the counter's edge, then she would propel herself up and swing sideways. Wherein she would repeat those movements. Dad, and woman-in-black-with-Chanel bag-on phone say nothing to her. So what that she is kicking the counter and behaving like a baby monkey outside in the wild. Six or eight year old sister decides, "Oh that looks like fun" and throws her picture books to the ground and starts doing the same thing. Maid immediately springs into action and grabs the books. [See? They brought her for a reason.] Father says nothing. This is acceptable behavior in the library. [It is?] Woman-in-black-with-Chanel bag is still talking on her phone. Very, very important call. Teenager wearing a gallon of perfume has to jump back out of the way so that she doesn't get kicked. My "services" are needed again...
Supervisor helping Mr. New at The Job Worker has now gone to the second computer so that he can check out family of four + maid. I look at the maid - she is looking at me. I smile at her. I hope that she has seen more than one friendly person today - and that I am not the only smile she's come across. I give the two little girls who are both misbehaving, unruly little brats "the look" [one of disgust] and I make sure that Dad and woman-in-black-with-Chanel bag-on phone both see me giving their misbehaving, unruly little brats "the look." Hey. If you're not going to discipline your children, by all means, I'm happy to do it for you. The smallest one moves over behind her father for protection. The six or eight year old doesn't get it. I have to give her another "look" and do that "hmmph" thing under my breath. She sticks her finger in her mouth and then looks at the maid as if the maid is going to be able to protect her. I again give the maid a big smile. The maid looks terrified. Father grabs the girls' books and family of four + maid are leaving. Maid has grabbed a hand of each of the two little girls. Mom can't be bothered - she is still clutching her Chanel bag and yakking on her mobile - hands are full. She exits first - then Dad - then the maid with the two little girls. The maid once again turns around - I smile again - she smiles back. I know she understood what the "look" was all about, as well as the "hmmph." It was as if her smile was to say, "You don't know how lucky you are. You only have to deal with this for ten minutes - I deal with this all the time."
Miss Teenage Aroma Winner of 2009 has gone to the experienced man's computer to get her single book checked out. We are only separated by a short distance - six feet, perhaps - maybe seven. The smell of her perfume though has traveled the distance and encompasses all of us. It is like some sort of invisible shield and I only WISH I could smell something else. Mr. New at the Job Worker is finally done with his problem checking out the CD/DVD's and now has to check my four overdue books back in. I tell him my books are overdue and I have to pay the fine. He asks for my card - I give it to him - he opens the first book. "Okay," he says. "No. They are ALL overdue." Clearly, I had said, "they are all overdue," and not "it is overdue." Dumbass. You need to check all four of them back in - not just one. Why?!? Why didn't I hustle over to Mr. Experience's computer [because I didn't want to be kicked by child swinging from the counter, is why]. "Oh." He checks all four in. "Okay," he says. "I need to pay my fine." "Oh." I wish I was kidding about this. I am not. "Four riyals." "No. They are three days overdue, it is 12 riyals." "Oh." He has to get Mr. Experience to come and help him. Mr. Experience says, "12 riyals." See? What'd I tell you? Perhaps if you'd have paid just a little bit more attention in math class than to what thugs in the hood in Chicago are wearing these days you'd be able to figure out that four books, overdue for three days, at one riyal per book, per day, equals 12. I pay my 12 riyals. I wait for him to log the money in. And then I ask, "Is my record clear?" I direct my attention to Mr. Experience who looks at Mr. New at the Job Worker's computer and tells me that yes, I am all clear. Thank you. That only took about twenty minutes - well, not really, but it seemed like it took much longer than it actually did. Good thing I wasn't in a big hurry!
I wander off to see what else I want to check out. The library leans to the left [fairness doctrine? Not here!] - but I can usually find something worthwhile to read. Usually? Always. I head back to one of the sections I frequently haunt. Young Miss Used to Be Front Desk Now Reference is trying to help another woman find a book in the approximate same section that I am in. Miss Used to be Front Desk Now Reference is very nice. Pleasant. Always smiles. Perfect white teeth. Very soft-spoken with fairly good English skills. I'm glancing through my section looking to see if there is something I need to read and come across some fiction book [I read almost no fiction - ever]. I'm pulling out books and giving them the once over - do I want it? Nah. How about that one... I step backward and accidentally bump into the woman that Miss Used to be Front Desk Now Reference is helping. I immediately apologize - I really didn't realize they had gotten quite so close - and as I have already clearly interrupted them to apologize to the woman I bumped, I said, "Probably you are not looking for this - but it is not where it needs to be" and I handed it over to the employee. Miss Used to be Front Desk Now Reference smiled and said, "Do you want a job here?" [Yeah. I don't think so but thank you for asking. She was kidding.] We all just kind of smiled in that awkward way you do when you've bumped into someone from behind and I moved away, off to another section.
I now had to face the front desk check out section, again, after already having spent part of the afternoon there. Phew. I'm the only one. Mr. New at the Job Worker is, again, the only one working. Great. This will probably take about ten minutes. I handed my library card over and Mr. New at the Job Worker was somehow able to actually get my books "scanned" in and get my little tickets printed and put into the back pocket where the library cards used to go [they have substituted those little flat paper drink cups for due-date-card holders, in many books, here], and then he runs them against the electronic thing that decodes them so I don't beep when I go out the door [must have been a lot of theft at some point in time for our little library to have to install all of this electronic equipment - you can hide almost anything under a black bag!]. I have my four books. Off I go.
I head to my car. Mr. Security - who is almost always there at the gate [you are supposed to show your identification card before entering the library grounds], steps out of his booth and he says, "You must smile. I like your smile." Funny, I thought I was smiling. Guess not. Well, I was earlier, before I went into the library and had to wait for twenty minutes to check my overdue books in while Mr. New at the Job Worker screwed everything up for a young man trying to borrow CD/DVD's, before my smell and taste sensations were
As I opened the back door of the truck to put my books in, it occurred to me that I pretty much parked in, and was surrounded by trash. I had a great parking space at the first spot of one of the lots, directly next to a trash can - with a lid. [They have lids because the fly problem is so bad. Remember? We have "poison boxes" just for flies.] Oh my gosh. That is just gross. Someone had stuck a huge wad of gum on top of the trash can - it was oozing liquid - it was light pink and had light pink clear liquid surrounding it in a slimy mess. You asshole. Couldn't be bothered to open the lid and put your gum in it - had to just stick it on top. What kind of person does that? Nasty. [What does it say about me that I went back to take a picture of the trash can with the gum on top of it? Wish it was a better picture - but you get the point.] Oh, and lazy, to boot. Lots and lots and lots of lazy here. I don't care who I offend with that statement. I know who you are and you know who you are. Do you really think that one of the gazillion little guys who have come here to this Country to work want to clean up your slimy wad of gum? The workers are not prepared to do so with plastic gloves. Those should be handed out every morning to every worker, but they aren't. You disgusting little
I get in the truck and head to my next stop. [Had I of walked to the library - I'd have missed all of this... Next time I will walk.] I go to the post office. The mother-load of mail is in our box. We have FIVE things! We never get mail. We have three birthday cards for DH [birthday was yesterday], we have a notice from the Vet's Office that they are raising prices [still less expensive here than in the States - no problem for us, as far as I'm concerned - I am thankful we have a veterinarian ], and I have a thank you note from someone I have never met in person but sent a baby present to - someone I have gotten to know from a conservative book forum I am a part of. That person has sent me a card thanking me for the gift and they have sent me a photo of the new baby - which the gift was for - a pink onesie with camels on it. Don't 'cha know, that thank you card has already been opened for me. Someone in the mail / customs department automatically figured that if I am receiving a photo then it is probably x-rated or something. It is a baby's picture. Bet YOU were disappointed, weren't you!?! You know it isn't a big deal, really. I don't care that you read my mail and looked at the photograph that someone else sent me. Heck, I'd have opened it for you if you would have asked. But nooo... Our mail gets opened and "censored." Did you - whoever you are in the Powers That Be office - really think I'd be stupid enough to have someone send me an x-rated photograph?!?! [I can find them on-line if I want to - and I don't - and we have more p0rn0graphy channels here on television - for free - than I have ever in my life seen.] It is a bit frustrating though. Feeling like you can be violated like this. Someone else opening your mail for you. Whatever. I've got my mail. Off I go...
To the cleaners. I like going to the cleaners. It isn't the high-light of my day or anything, but the little [imported] guys that work there know me, know my ID number, know my phone number, know my DH's "Department Number." All of that. "Hal-low, Madam. How are you today." "I'm fine, thank you. How are you. How is your wife?" "It is good to see you Madam. Have a nice weekend." "You to. Thank you. See you on Saturday." Small talk. The weather - stuff like that. I never have to have my dry cleaning slip - it's home on the kitchen counter with my list, I just sign [DH's uniforms are cleaned for free - well, not free - the company pays for it] for the cleaning and then I head off to the next errand.
I go to the commissary. Yes, I did do most of my grocery shopping at Tamimi yesterday, but I needed some produce - red peppers and onions - and light bulbs [which I didn't get] and three or four other things - but since I didn't have my list... I ended up getting more than I originally went for - and that's fine. You can never have too much Diet 7-Up, right? There are a couple of guys who have "cart duty." They grab your cart - wheel it to your car and unload your groceries - then they return the cart [or "trolley" as they are called, here] to its proper parking space. At this point, I've gotten so that I just hand my keys to one of them while I am still paying for my groceries and they take off with my cart - unload my groceries into the truck - and hand my keys over to me when I catch up to them. It is this kind of thing that I am going to miss when we finally return to the States. In all the years I shopped at Kroger I never got to know any of the workers well enough to just hand my keys over to someone and I don't recall anyone unloading my groceries from the cart to my car, either.
I'm done with my errands. Headed home. As I am driving back down the street - there is a car parked right in the middle - just like the Kia mini-van from the other day - blocking the road. What is with people that they just feel that they can block traffic any time they want?!! This kind of thing infuriates me. Unless you've got a handicapped sticker on your license plate and you are unloading someone out of your car that needs a wheelchair GET OUT OF THE WAY! Was the car blocking the road unloading passengers? No. Just sitting there - obviously waiting for someone - but HE [yes it was a man] couldn't be bothered to find a place to park - nope. Had to stop and sit right there in the middle of the road. So what that I couldn't get by him. Not his problem. Jerk. I waited for all of about a half a second - probably longer - and laid on the horn. GET OUT OF THE WAY! He got the message and slowly - like snail's pace slow - started to drive off - obviously still waiting. Honestly, how long did HE think I was going to sit there and wait for him - and yes - if there wasn't traffic coming the other way I could have passed him. That's not the point, though. YOU do not have the right to park in the middle of the road and wait for someone. I don't know who you are waiting for but I'd be willing to be that he/she could use the walk. Find a parking space. Courtesy, people. The world DOES NOT revolve around you. Yeah, I know. You think it does. It. Does. Not!
Okay. I'm done.