Inom comes to clean for us four or five mornings every single week. We are not his sponsor. Someone else is, but in return for sponsoring him, Inom pays an outrageous sum to his sponsor every single month which allows him the privilege of working for us and for several other families, here on our compound. If it is not illegal - it should be illegal - but it is all just a game and that game involves cash. Absolutely no different than the "pay to play" system which is set up in the States - you know - the government system.
This morning, Inom called me and said he cannot get in the gate because he is no longer on "the list." The list, apparently, is printed out and given weekly as to who is allowed to enter the gates to our compound and who isn't. Which - in and of itself makes no sense. The list, if it is done weekly, should have started with Saturday as that is the day our week, here in The Sandbox, starts. Inom was here Saturday, and he was here yesterday. But today, Monday, he is not allowed to come in.
I went to Security to see how I could get him on the list to make sure that for the next two weeks, until his sponsor who is on vacation and out of the Kingdom returns, that Inom will be able to enter. Inom needs a letter from his sponsor saying that his sponsor has no objection to Inom working for me. Therein lies the problem. How the heck is he supposed to get a signed letter from someone who is not in the Kingdom?
It was interesting to see some twenty men standing and waiting outside the office - all in the very same predicament that Inom is in - this morning. I feel sorry for them. Very sorry for them. They are here, like I said, from other countries, all toiling and working to support their families from wherever it is they are from - and they are forced, constantly, to jump through almost impossible hoops. The ante gets upped, regularly. The rules get changed, monthly.
First I went to Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff at the office who was of no help whatsoever. He said, "You must get paper." What paper? Care to be a little more specific? I have a dry-cleaning receipt, will that suffice? Truly I was an inconvenience to his entire morning - the five minutes I was there - while he was trying to drink his coffee. "Call this number 555-5555. Speak to Mr. Supervisor." He dials the number for me from his phone and motions for me to pick up a phone on the other side of the glass. [Picture something from a prison visitor's office - straight out of a movie.] Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff dialed a fax number. Brilliant. Just brilliant - that one there - working Security.
For the most part, Security has been incredibly helpful and extremely professional for all of the issues we have encountered. I cannot complain and have, until this morning, had nothing but the highest regard for our Security force. When The Kids have gone ballistic barking in the middle of the night, Security has come right away when I call. When the little t!ts through rocks in the pool, Security came three times that night and has since kept a close eye on our house because of the issues with the teenagers who all mill about with no place to go. When I've had other issues, Security has been top-notch right there, pronto, to help in any way they can. I am not complaining about Security. That there is a bad apple in the bunch is hardly a reflection on the entire force.
Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff is completely and totally put out when I put the phone up to the little hole in the window so he can hear that he has dialed a fax number. He has to redial. Gimme a break, Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff, how difficult was that?!! Thing is, is that I started out with a completely different attitude when I headed out to take care of this situation first thing this morning. I was upbeat, happy, it is a nice day out, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. How quickly that all changed, all because of Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff. That I was allowing him to put a damper on my entire morning - thus far - and a black cloud over the sunshine - stop it! Just stop it, right now...
I speak to someone at the end of the telephone line and he tells me I have to send an e-mail to so and so. No. I want to go see so and so right now. Where do I go and who do I see? I am told to go to a certain building, to a certain room number and to see Mr. Supervisor. Fine. I get in the truck and head straight there.
Once I arrive, Mr. Supervisor's secretary greets us - Inom is with me. Wasn't really a greeting to be sure. Mr. Secretary is staring at his computer eating an apple. He glances up. Once again I have totally disturbed someone's morning and I am an inconvenience that he does not want to have to deal with. Beside the fact that he was dressed totally inappropriately for a professional office - unless Monday is dress down day - he was rude. And let me say that he was exceptionally rude to Inom. There is clearly a caste-type system in place here, and I am fairly certain that Inom had not have been with me that Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary would not have given Inom the time of day. It was pretty clear from
Inom and I sit down and wait outside Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary's office for Mr. Supervisor. Mr. Supervisor, within about three or four minutes, comes out of his office into Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary's office - I can hear every word that is being said - but since most of the conversation [most - not all] was in Arabic, have no clue as to everything that is being said. Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary points at me, and Mr. Supervisor comes out and says, "How can I help you? Please come with me. Have a seat."
At least Mr. Supervisor was pleasant and not anywhere near as rude as his secretary or Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff. I explain my problem. Mr. Supervisor says, "We have new instructions from management. We must have these forms." Great. Total complete waste of time this is. In other words, you can't help me. So the point of my waiting to see you, again, was?!? "You see, we have procedures. We cannot change these procedures." Sure. I see you have these procedures that seem to change on a whim, and only apply to certain groups of people. The caste-system in full swing. "If we do not comply with the procedures then we can get sued." Really? "What if there is a problem and something happens? Who will be responsible?" I couldn't help myself and countered his argument with my own. "The workers who come onto this compound are not the problem. The problems are the ones that come on in hoards to visit "local" residents." Mr. Supervisor responds, "Yes. We know that. But there is nothing we can do." Sure there is. Make the visitors of the "locals" jump through the same dayum impossible hoops that the "visitors" to us ex-pats must jump through, and by ex-pats I mean us - Americans and other "western" nationalities - who are here, that want to have men come to do our housework, clean our pools, take care of our yards and gardens. We cannot get maids and drivers and other full-time domestic workers. We are allowed to have houseboys - and in some instances are allowed to sponsor them and they become "camp workers" which means they can stay on our compound in their own camp. [Getting and sponsoring your own help is a system that takes a great deal of time - and patience - and is only sometimes approved. But it can be done.]
Of course the whole situation is completely and totally unnecessary. It is a power and control thing. It is not the workers who come to this country from other third world countries who cause the problems here and everyone knows it. Much better to have this high and mighty attitude about the "riff raff" from those countries than from your own. In the meantime, Inom has been sent off to collect some other papers, Form-BS101112131415 and Form FU-1617181920-99. Whether or not he will be allowed to come in and work tomorrow - or again, until his sponsor returns - remains to be seen. And, of all weeks. I really, really need his help this week!