Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doing What I Said I Would Never Do

Yesterday we took The Kids out for their morning jaunt through the compound - like we always do. When we got back I said, "I'm going to run up to the Commissary to get steak for dinner tonight, and I'll run by the cleaners while I'm there." DH is happy with that; The Kids are happy with that. DH is having steak; The Kids are having steak. [A Brazilian cut sirloin - regular steak portion size - costs all of $3.00. American beef, on the other hand, regular steak portion size is about $25.00.] I don't eat it. Beside the point.

I had my "uniform" on - bike shorts, tank top, walking sandals. Couldn't be bothered to change clothes - and going to the Commissary early in the morning - like six o'clock - dressed like that is one thing. Going there later, when there are people out and about is another. That would be dressed inappropriately - which isn't to say that I haven't done it - I have, on occasion - but you feel as though you are being violated - raped - with the eyes of so many strangers [men and women] on you if you are dressed like that. So, instead, I threw my black bag on. Only did a couple of snaps in the front - could care less that it is blowing open and you can see my bare legs, and pink tank-top. Deal with it.

Mistake to go when I did. Nine-thirty must be "break" time because there was almost no parking and the Commissary was full. Great. I need like five items and the place is packed. One of the things I do when I go in the morning - if we've not had breakfast, here, yet - is get warm bread with labna [unsweetened yogurt]. Not as good as cheese bread but close. DH and I really like it. So, I go in to the Commissary and head for the bakery to order my bread - there are a dozen young women all gathered in a group, blocking the entire aisle waiting for their bread - not a single one of them could be bothered to move aside - they were standing in such a way that no one could get through with their carts. Just rude. I said, "Excuse me" and started plowing through. I know I hit one of them and as far as I'm concerned she deserved it. Get out of the way!

Ordered my bread, raced through the aisles picking up the few items that I needed. Got myself all in a tizzy and worked up because lately it has been about impossible to get anything good there. It is supposed to be a convenience for those of us on the compound and it has been anything but. Fine if you are shopping for rice - they have thirty different brands - of WHITE rice! The meat selection has been awful; there has been no hamburger - the packs that I cook for The Kids food, there has been no good bread - just crappy white "Sunbeam" style bread. They quit carrying Delta bread for many months - then it was back - now it is gone again. And, no Bounty papertowels in forever. Why? WHY!?! Those brands you have on the shelves are worthless. Takes half a roll to wipe up a spill. They get all soggy and tear apart in your hand. May as well try to use tissue paper or Kleenex.

Not like I can just jump in my car and run downtown. No. It could never be that convenient. Just so much that is not there - at the Commissary - lately. There is no consistency. If you buy something one day - next week it won't be there and it likely won't be there for months. People "hoard" things here. You almost have to. Like frozen juice. Grab it while you can - grab a dozen cans. Same with chips. Grab a half dozen bags. Whoever does the ordering just doesn't seem to get that some items are quick sell-outs and that more of whatever that item was should be procured.

For as much computer information they surely can obtain via the cash registers - a data base of what is being sold - I would find it hard to believe they are used for anything other than the accounting system, i.e., how much money each cash register should have in it at the end of the day. Someone certainly isn't going through the information and saying, "Looks like Lime Chips are sold out. Better order some more." Nope. Doesn't happen like that, here. Lime Chips are sold out and gone - they get replaced with pretzels which sit on the shelf until they go stale. Whatever.

I've turned into someone I didn't want to turn into. A conformer. I knew I had things to do yesterday that required staying dressed in my bike shorts and tank top - The Baby got a haircut! I couldn't be bothered with taking time to change clothes just to run to the store, quickly, and the cleaners. So I threw on the big black bag to cover up. No. I didn't have to wear it. We are allowed to go to the Commissary dressed in street clothes - but it is very, very uncomfortable to be in with the masses, here, if you are dressed in what is essentially exercise attire. I don't like all eyes on me that way - and yes, more men than women [aren't men NOT supposed to look? that doesn't stop them!] The big black bag does have its advantages, I guess. At a gathering of women last week one of them said that she used to wear her black bag over her pajamas in the morning when she went to town to go grocery shopping. It isn't like anyone would ever know the difference, right?


  1. No Maxwell House ground coffee in Tabuk since November. So when (if) it shows up on the shelves, I will buy 4 cans each week until it is gone again. I have a huge pantry cupboard just for this purpose. To hoard. There must be 30 brands of basamati rice and as many brands of tomato paste on the store shelves here. The stores NEVER run out of rice and tomato paste. Tomato sauce? Whole different issue there and I have learned how to make tomato sauce. There is no inventory system here. None.
    Our compound store is small. Milk, eggs, juice, cleaning supplies and pet food. But the bread is good, fresh baked daily from the restaraunt. No abiya required for the compound store.
    Now for the compound in Riyadh? I wear what I wear here and f*** em if they don't like it. I'm 54 and if the wazoos find that appealing, well I take that as a compliment :-)
    I have been known to throw my abiya on over my jammies too.

  2. looks like the batwoman suit/tent does have its benefits. You can basically go in the buff and not be bothered. :-)unless ofcourse there is a stiff breeze blowing.

  3. Mine is clearly the "tent" issue, Rasputin. Although Miss Pretty at the post office has the "batwoman" issue...

  4. I LOVE your blog. Finally, a real benefit to living there--you can go to the market in your jammies!! Sounds like something I would actually try to get away with. This made me laugh out loud!

  5. I'm glad you LOVE it, Barbara!

    What? You don't go to the grocery store in your jammies where you are?

  6. I can recall how living in Iceland was, particularly when dealing with the commissary there for us navy folk. Back in the mid-nineties when we were there, I think Snackwell's first came to the commissary and people were snatching them up as if they were gold. For some reason they became a rare necessity. I never found much about them.


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