Tuesday, February 2, 2010

the obligatory expat meltdown

Okay guys, now that I am over being stressed in Riyadh and have sunken into my relaxed retired stage, I can laugh about this.

A while back, probably on my second trip to Riyadh, I had a little incident at a grocery store that shall remain unnamed. The day had gone by quickly and I had gotten wrapped up with something I was doing at home. Suddenly, the prospect of cooking dinner was upon me but we had no food in the fridge and I had promised my husband a nice home cooked meal in the morning. (note to self: never promise anyone anything ever) I called the driver and asked him to come as soon as possible to take me to the nearest grocery store. And of course, when you need them to come quickly, they come very very *very* slowly. Fine and dandy, I said, as long as I get there. Well I got there, and began speed shopping. Part way through, there was some kind of muffled announcement that I couldn't understand. I was so focussed on my shopping that I didn't notice the doors to the grocery store closing. At the checkout counters, it finally dawned on me that prayer was fast arriving, so I rushed to try to find a short lineup, but at this point there were so many people lined up in each line, and cashiers disappearing by the minute, that I became panic stricken. I frantically chose a line. When the cashier cashed out the person before me but refused to do my groceries as well, I saw red. The hourglass was empty. I had lost.

For whatever reason, that day my neat bale of frustration collapsed in a heap with that last straw. Irate, I yelled at the cashier to cash me out while I slammed my groceries onto the conveyer belt. CASH ME OUT! Tomatoes. CASH ME OUT! Onions. NO HALAS! F*@K HALAS! Beef. IT ISN'T PRAYER YET!

Of course, no amount of shouting or cursing was helping. Instead, I was attracting security guards, which is always a great sign that your heaping public pity party has been a magnificent success. When I saw them coming, I knew it was time to cut my losses and I slipped out the last open door empty handed, still seething, with many sets of eyes boring into my back. To sweeten the humiliation, while I was waiting for my driver, the cashier and his buddies came out to laugh at me.

In retrospect, this whole situation makes me laugh quite a bit. I made such a scene over what? Over taco night??? The whole assumption that I would be able to get away with shopping last minute is just ludicrous in Saudi, especially given that I can't drive. I actually find it quite funny that I yelled at people and then couldn't drive away from them.

I'm writing this not because I want to lash out against Riyadh. It's just that I want you all to know that if you have a meltdown at some point because it seems like the city is deliberately sabotaging your plan to be happy with life - I understand, and it's okay. We've all been there. And if you haven't been there, you'll get there...and then you'll get past it.

4 comments:

Om Lujain© said...

That would have annoyed me! You're good, I wouldn't have left until he checked me out with my stuff... lol

(Yes.. i Can be THAT persistent.. lol)

Stacy said...

Oh I can't help but laugh. I know exactly what you mean and had a similar experience, tho was lucky enough to have my few items accepted (and hence no outburst).

Tho for me, what I really hate is going to the supermarket thinking you have a few minutes to get in before prayer starts and getting there just as they roll the doors closed. Coz then all you can do is hang around in front of the doors for 30 mins and I swear they always take an extra 10 mins when you're waiting for them.

echodepiction said...

Oh, that is a totally understandable situation! Even after all these years in Saudi, I still forget that I have to check my watch to make sure I'm done shopping in a certain store by prayer time. I doubt though that I would have the guts to yell at the guy, but good for you! Although it may seem silly now that you argued and stressed for the sake of taco night, think how if making last-minute dinner in Saudi is hell to accomplish, how will more serious matters ever be done?!

echodepiction said...

Oh, that is a totally understandable situation! Even after all these years in Saudi, I still forget that I have to check my watch to make sure I'm done shopping in a certain store by prayer time. I doubt though that I would have the guts to yell at the guy, but good for you! Although it may seem silly now that you argued and stressed for the sake of taco night, think how if making last-minute dinner in Saudi is hell to accomplish, how will more serious matters ever be done?!