12 July 2007

nauseous with the truth.

So, I hit a cultural sensitivity low yesterday. My boss decided that we should all go to the Dead Sea for work. I told her I had to teach my class at 4 and absolutely had to be back in Amman by then. I was assured that all would be fine, and so against my better judgment, I went. After an hour and a half to load the car and pick up Manal and her children (which should have been a red flag), we finally made it down there. After another hour of setting up and coffee/snack time (where I learned that my boss once smuggled bibles into Soviet Russia - perhaps another red flag?), we finally got to work around 1. At 230, I subtly reminded her that I had to be back by 4, and we should probably start packing to leave by 3. "Of course, of course." We all discuss my job and how I'm the only SAT teacher. At three, Manal realized that, perhaps, she should get her kids out of the pool. Then they had to shower. In the meantime, no packing was taking place. By 320, Susan and her daughter decided that they wanted food before leaving. My boss had vanished to say goodbye to someone.

By 330, the driver and I are getting awkwardly bored in the room trying to decide what "madam" wants to bring with us. We finally rally the children and load the car by 345. It's about 45 minutes to Amman, so I've already given up on getting there on time and am now trying to call Amideast to warn my students. The line's constantly busy and I keep trying while the kids try to blast the radio and everyone talks loudly. The kids want to stop for drinks, so we pull over as Susan asks if someone will cover my class. No, I'm the only teacher. "Oh, that's too bad."

Amideast calls me at 415 to find out where I am, and I explain that I'm on the way but not driving, so it's out of my hands. We pull over for ten minutes and wait for the other driver to catch up and get something from our car to bring back to the Dead Sea. Amideast calls again, I try to explain without using profanity to describe the rude, inconsiderate women responsible for my lateness. Susan asks if I'm in trouble, and I explain that I should be - you can't show up 30 minutes late to a class. "Oh, too bad." Finally, by 5 PM (my class only runs 4-6, mind you), we make it to my office. As I'm leaving, Manal says "Sorry you were late." Not "sorry I made you late." No sense of personal responsibility whatsoever. None of these women "work" in any true sense of the word (others work for them), so the idea that someone they view as their equal (me) would have to be punctual for a job (gasp!) is completely foreign to them. But if their child's teacher walked in an hour late, you bet they'd be bitching. Money really is the root of all evil. They've sold any sense of social decency down the river to be part of the elite.

Whew...feels good to get that off my chest.

In other news, I've realized that if I don't have electricity in Ethiopia, I won't have a refrigerator and hence won't be able to store cheese. It was a sad moment for me.


James said...

Glad you have a blog too...im gonna link you onto mine

P.S. Keep me updated on our Africa date

Nick said...

Ditto what James said. Too bad about the possibility of a cheeseless future.