Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

One of the peculiarities of living in Dubai is that you eventually figure out that 99% of the people residing here are somewhat liberal with the truth. In fact, many people will happily and blatantly lie to your face. They will try to stick to their story like superglue, even when faced with the sort of evidence that any sane and reasonable person would be forced to accept and thus eat their words. So, you know they're lying, they know they're lying, the rest of the world probably knows they're lying... and yet they will persist until they turn blue in the face and gulp their last breath (as you give in to temptation and merrily throttle them ... in your imagination at least).

The secret is to refuse to give up and hang in there, insisting that you are right and they are wrong, preferably in a loud voice. This behaviour is all a pointless little game you see, a bit of a pissing match, with the winner being the one who insists that they are right the longest. There is little use for such behaviour, except possibly for the fact that it adds a bit of excitement to a monotonous day. I guess.

One Example (of many)
Starbucks, yesterday. Conversation between me and the 'barista' (yes, I agree, a ridiculous title):
"Excuse me but I ordered a Mocha Frappucino. This doesn't taste like a Mocha Frappucino."
"Yes. Is a Mocha Frappucino."
"Err. No. It really isn't."
"Yes. Is Mocha."
"No. It. Isn't."
"Yes. Mocha."
"(Deep sigh). No. It isn't. I have probably consumed more Mocha Frappucinos in the past year than you have made in your entire life. Which undoubtably makes me an expert when it comes to Mocha Frappucinos. So when I tell you this is not a Mocha Frappucino, I assure you, it is NOT a Mocha Frappucino."
"Please tell me what this drink is."
"Is Frappucino."
"Yes, but is it a MOCHA Frappucino?"
Silence. Barista looks at toes. Then says, "Ok. Is not Mocha. Mocha mix finish yesterday."
"So what is it?"
"Is same-same."
"Obviously not. What is it?"
"Same-same. Is coffee."
"Do you actually know what's in a Mocha Frappucino?"
Triumphant smirk. "Yes, coffee and espresso shot. I tell you, same-same."
Sigh. "No, Mocha is chocolate and coffee. No espresso shot. NOT same-same at all."
Shrug. "OK. No mocha. You have coffee."
Double sigh. "Can I have my money back, please?"

Obviously this is an especially trivial example. But imagine this multiplied across the service industry. Imagine this translated to 99% of the repairmen who come to your house to fix a range of problems, from your air conditioning to your broken cooker to your rotten-egg drains. Your household help. Your local taxi firm. Your dry cleaner. The list is endless.

It's enough to make a girl quite fed up. Now and then. At least, until you look out of the window at the sun shining and think, "Oh f*ck it. It could be a lot, lot worse."


sarah said...

I love "same-same". That has to be utterly maddening! You must take a LOT of deep breaths. Like walking yoga all the time...

Anonymous said...

So true.

Anonymous said...

It is a cultural thing. Saving face is all. Very important in a Muslim country, but difficult to take when brought up in a liberal (decadent) society. Don't argue, just accept and enjoy the sunshine. When in is much safer to blend in. Good Luck!

YLM said...

Same-same is genius. I have adopted this maddening expression with devious joy. It provides endless amusement.

Saving face is pants, in my opinion. Face up to the music, I say. The initial sting to the ego is less painful in the long run... especially when the alternative is being publically denounced and verbally whipped by mental mamas such as myself.

But actually, I do ignore it most of the time. Otherwise I would have an ulcer by new and many fewer hours in the day. I just save my ire for the truly trivial annoyances, such as being denied my beloved mocha frapp in Starbucks. Sigh. The really bad stuff I can, oddly, handle with aplomb. Like I said, mad.