Friday, January 22, 2021

People


‘We are all forced to be waiters now’
July 2006 105

I am totally fed up being a waiter. No, not the type, who waits on tables in restaurants, but the sort who has to join a queue at every airport.

You know what I mean. You join a queue for check-in procedures and wait endlessly, while the check-in person patiently informs the passenger in front of you that he needs to pay excess baggage, as he is several kilos above the allocated quota. Even if he is a ‘good friend’ of the airline president, he will still have to pay. Then his wife turns up and says, “We'll share the allocation,” proceeding to repack right there. Eventually you suggest to the check-in person that perhaps you could be processed, while the excess-weight gentleman is busy?
Finally clutching your boarding pass, you join another queue. This time for passport control. Fortunately it is a quick swipe with your Dubai-issued e-card at least at Dubai Airport. Then another wait for security. Three passengers ahead of you pass through without incident, but another has to come back through the ‘gate’, because he forgot about the chunky gold necklace he is wearing. After the long trek to the departure lounge, it is another wait, as your flight is called and passports are once again checked and boarding passes processed.
On arrival, you join another queue for passport control, then there is a wait for the bags to arrive. Finally you are outside the airport waiting for a taxi, train or a relative to collect you. See what I mean about being a Waiter?
While I am on the subject of travel by air, I know it will be a long wait before a dress code is introduced. Last time I travelled by air, I stood in one queue behind a gentleman who had obviously been on holiday in the Gulf and wanted to show off his deep new tan. He was wearing short shorts that would not have been out of place on the beaches of the South of France and a T-shirt advertising Barbados stretched over a very substantial beer  belly. What I really minded, though, was the smell – he was perspiring profusely having rushed from the Dubai Duty Free to catch his flight, he explained to the guy in front of him.
Several passengers on the flight wore track suits as if they were attending an athletics meet. I blame the so-called ‘travel experts’ who always advise travellers to wear something comfortable when flying, probably not realizing that many interpret this advice as ‘scruff’ order.
On the subject of fashion, a pet peeve is the inappropriate attire worn by some expats in the Gulf. In Europe or the Far East, no one would dream of shopping in supermarkets in a swim-suit covered with a see-through gossamer shirt or skirt. Or stroll around malls in beachwear.
Not only does it offend the conservative, but oh-so-patient nationals, but many expats like myself are embarrassed and ashamed at such lack of respect for another culture. I can almost understand vacationers, though I believe travel agents should advise holidaymakers on the correct mode of dress, but I will not forgive other expats living here, who should know better.
When it comes to showing respect for others, I am back to waiting...Waiting for the ladies who back out their huge 4-wheel drive vehicles often with mobile phones attached to their ear, oblivious of anyone else in the parking lot. Or for the young lady with two children and two maids grumbling about her ‘hardship’ posting to another young lady; while blocking the lane for departing vehicles.
Onto real waiters, we are now starting to choose restaurants based on the time taken to order and receive a drink and the length of time to receive our main course, omitting the starters. The last time we visited one of Dubai's newest hotels, I actually forgot what I’d ordered by the time the meal arrived. That is why we often choose the buffets: it means ‘no waiting’!
Time is a precious commodity to everybody. Waiting according to the dictionary is “to defer action or departure in expectation to something happening.” To my mind, that means I have to cope with waiting for flights, but it does not mean accepting the restaurant waiter with the see-through eyes, who totally ignores me, because in reality, it’s his job to make sure I am happy.
Patience is a virtue, says an old proverb, unfortunately I do not possess patience.
However, I must be off, as the kettle is boiling and I do not want to wait for my next cup of coffee...

Speaking Out by Jonna Simon




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