Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why should I answer the phone?

I wonder if Saudi employees ask themselves this question when the phone rings. I spent my morning calling various companies and out of about 10 phone calls only 1 employee picked up. I wonder if they were all in prayers or something because I know they take prayers 5 times a day and everything shuts down for half an hour or so. So if you're grocery shopping and prayers happen you're stuck choosing yogurt for another hour until everyone comes back. Good thing you like yogurt! Anyways, they can't always be in prayers, can they? I've called a number of hospitals multiple times and they just don't answer the phone. Why do you have a phone number if you're not going to pick up the phone? Why can't you get an answering machine? Why do you tease me like this? These are good questions, but 9 out of 10 employees in Saudi are not going to be answering them because they are busy ignoring your call.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Napping at work

I'm pretty sure that whatever job you have, you're not allowed to nap at it. I don't think many people in my profession have found anything similar to the working conditions I have had the good luck to land on, as most of my colleagues routinely work through lunch. I've done my time at that type of work, so I know what it feels like to eat a whole Druxy's roast beef sandwich in under 2 minutes. Do you know what that feels like? It feels like you are an exhibit at the zoo, because usually people are staring at you while you do it, tapping their fingers on the counter, wondering why you are taking a break to stuff your face when you could be helping them find Q-tips.

But back to the whole napping thing...I think I have developed a 6th sense to wake up when work appears. You may not know this about me, but I am actually the female asian version of Rip Van Winkle. So when I fall asleep, there is always that fear I might not wake up again. But thankfully I've never had anyone shake me awake at work - I always magically appear when I'm needed! To me, I feel this is a special skill worth documenting. Somehow I don't think this skill will be all that valuable in Saudi. That's why I didn't put it on my resume.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Preparing for Saudi

My very first blog! I'm losing my blog virginity! My bloginity!!

To be fair - I'm not in Saudi yet, but I am feeling optimistic today. I'm so optimistic that I am starting this blog to keep my family and friends filled in on my life in Riyadh. I figured, why not start at the very beginning?

The beginning of this trip is the visa. Getting a Saudi residency visa is one big stinking migraine. Actually a more accurate comparison would be an extended scavenger hunt, where you end up at locations like photo shops, the doctor's office (2-5 times), the pharmacy, the police station, the medical lab, an embarrassing position in your bathroom, Ottawa, Fed Ex, the photocopy shop, notary public, the college of physicians of ontario.....the list goes on. Everything costs a little money here and there and then you realize you have spent hundreds of dollars accumulating a collection of official looking papers, some of them containing pictures of you resembling a terrorist. Part of you wants to cry to the heavens and burn them, especially the ones with the pictures. And the other part of you says, "try not to be insane, ok?" But then the first part of you asks the question, "do they really think I could have worms, cholera, a hernia, or worst of all - varicose veins?" The sane part of you assumes this is a rhetorical question and does not answer.

Anyways, while that's all getting sorted out, I'm also figuring out how to get a job in Saudi. Do women work in Saudi? Yes, apparently they do. If you are a nurse, you can get on a plane today and start working at a pristine hospital tomorrow, where they shower you with gold and candyyyy!! And if you have my job? Heh! no gold. no candy. Just long confused pauses on the telephone, or the ultimate in phone fun - an arabic greeting followed by a dialtone. I'll let you know how the cold calling works out.