Today I had T I M E.
That may seem odd as everyone has exactly the same amount of time.
But today surely Allah gave me more than them.
Even though I gained so much today I still feel I lost so much too.
Shall we start at the best place for stories to start? The begining?
I woke up startled from my sleep by two children who should not have been SO CHEERFULLY awake for children who went to bed so late .... at 6:34am this morning. My alarm hadn't even gone off I thought groggilly. Then i remebered why i had set my alarm. I had a meeting today!
"Mama you have a meeting today!" my daughter aka mind reader, said sing-song. I hugged them because despite the odd hour they were in such great moods. My son was rolling all over my bed giggling about the silliness of life. I quickly got them up and dressed and fed them breakfast. I was preparing their lunchbox when i realized i was tired of making them PBJsandwhiches for lunch, especailly when my son had just demanded that for breakfast while his sister ate cereal, as he doesn't drink milk. So I looked around the kitchen for something quick and edible and found NOTHING. Nothing easy to cook either like mac and cheese. So I popped out some frozen chicken burgers and fish filets and fried them up. For "healthy" I added a large handful of baby carrots to the lunchbox.
I combed their hair and walked them upstairs to the Egyptian family babysitting them everyday.
I came down and dressed for work and thought about eating a sandwhich myself but again didn't feel like it, and certainly didn't want peanut breath for my meeting. I did notice the strange stillness and quiet to the house without the kids in it. But I was in too much of a hurry to really spend long reflecting. It was 8:20am.
I went down and waited and waited for a taxi, but luckily one came after only five minutes. I hopped in and said, "Jumairah 1, Jumairah Shopping Center". Then I sat back as he took off. I liked not having to drive for once. I could relax. I had my notebook on me and thought about writing on my Nano project. Never waste a minute when you can write....and I didn't write. I was too absorbed in enjoying the silence and calm.
We went around the huge roundabout packed long and deep with trucks and cars. I kept a side glance on the taxi meter as we stopped for another red light. Eventaully we got near the turning point to go left, he started going straight. "Left!" I cried urgently and he dutifully swerved over. As we sat at the red light i bit my lip thinking, did he know a faster way? "Is this way faster? What way you were going?" I asked finally.
"Go straight and take Shiekh Zayed over to Safa Park up to Jumairah." He replied.
"Well okay, if it's faster." I replied, I had SOME extra time, i could try a detour. So off he went the way he said he'd go. I passively watched out the window letting my mind roam as many topics as there are shiny buildings in dubai. We reached Safa Park and I noticed a Choithams, then with growing concern I saw we were only half way there and already the meter said 23.00dhs. Last time I went to Jumairah by taxi MY WAY, it only cost 23.00dhs! So I said do to the taxi driver and he got ticked off I was questioning his route. He said NO WAY I paid that much......Uh I'm not making up totals here. Just stating facts. I tried to appease him that it didn't matter as long as we got there. No problem his way wasn't better.
Yeah.... useless to fight a man on "men's turf". That sapped some of my morning glow and I started to feel drowsy as I just let him take me the rest of the way. I closed my eyes at red lights for a doze and glanced around when we moved to make sure we're staying on track. Eventaully we reached Jumairah Shopping Center where Magrudy's has it's administration building. Total was 37.00dhs. To make him pay for his bad judgement I handed him a 200DHS bill to break for me. (well ok no matter how fast he got me there that's all the cash i had) He grumbled and fumbled for change but managed to find it. Feeling better for exacting a bit of revenge, I moved onto Magrudy's.
I walked into the well decorated sitting entry room and waited to be called and again thought I should write in my Nano Book but was too keyed up and they took a while so I went in serach of the mother of a former co-worker. He was 17 and had quit his once a week job at Magrudy's to have more time for education, I wholly supported his quitting, as he's taking on like 3 majors and he NEEDED the extra time. But for 17, he had the funniest dry wit and sense of humor. I hadn't even known he was 17, he had the maturity of at least 24-26 year old person (my age).
I felt a bit daunted to go searching for some random employee but soon found her and she was ever surprised as I introduced myself and why I was there and how much i enjoyed working with her son. She couldn't quite beleive I was indeed talking about HER S O N .... I know the feeling, thats how my parents reacted sometimes when someone complimented me out of the blue... "Our daughter? You mean Brandy?" As if they HAD another daughter (they dont).... so I left feeling happy I had made someone else's day a bit more special. By then my retail manager called me up to the meeting.
Something I really like about Magrudy's is they don't just employ any old shmuk to work for them. Each person is so unique and has charisma and charm and that certain sparkle in their eye that makes them stand out from the rest. My Administration Staff is no exeception. One lady I particularly get along well with as we both read personalities and try to work on meshing people together well. So I had a fun productive meeting. It was just another moment of calm and peace as we chatted, as I mused at how far I'd come in my business life. Here I was out in the world trying to help others achieve their best.
Afterward I headed off down the road a block to McDonalds. I was hungry and I knew their breakfast menu has the Sausage Egg McMuffin I'd missed eating since becoming Muslim in America. But here in UAE it is made from Halal CHicken which yes does taste every bit as good, if not better. I got their breakfast meal which includes coffee, as I was feeling the early hour by then. Bonus I got a free mug, YAY! Which I'd been needing to use at work for making coffee. I sat down and enjoyed the taste that took me back to many memories when i was younger. Again I wanted to write, in fact I felt the burden and obligation resting on my shoulders, but I shoved it off. It was peaceful and quiet. Slowly eating bite after bite of steamy egg, chiken, and cheese squashed between two mcMuffins. Time was just draggin by so slowly. And I was loving every second of it. But a part of me was missing sharing it with my family. My husband would love McDs in the morning, and the kids would be running around glowing in the morning sun trying to play between bites. But for now it was just me and peace and quiet....and i savored it. I spent about a half hour chilling then wondered what i should do with my day. I could technically park myself at McDs all day writing until it was time to start my shift at work. I could probably churn out 5,000-10,000 words in that amount of time.
I got up and filled out a satisfied customer report adding they only needed to smile more....and left. I walked over to the bus stop and tried to figure out the map, it was hopeless. I'm good with maps but this only listed bus numbers at each stop not bus route lines so you know which way the bus goes. I guess it would look too crowed with all those lines but still RTA needs to work on that map. Not very user friendly. So this Indian guy walkes into the Air Conditioned Bus Stop (Arizonians eat your heart out) and after a moment's hesitation...in which I wonder, why am I hesitating? I'm a Customer Service Executive... i chat with total strangers everyday, all day long..... I speak up.
"Do you know which bus goes to Deira City Center?"
"Yeah take the same as me C10. But it's better if you get off early and take the metro the rest of the way, because it's faster than the long traffic the bus goes through."
"okay thanks." I reply and we continue to fill the silence with the usual conversations in DUbai, where are you from, how long you been here, what job you do? But I was also sick of the USUAL conversations.
"Do you feel as an Indian you are treated unfairly here? Do you LIKE working here?" I asked. Surprised at my sudden turn he gets interested.
"Well yeah, no Indian who works here REALLY likes it here. We just have to live to feed our families just like everyone else though. So we just shut out mouth and take it in."
"Yeah it's not fair that I'm treated any different than you just because I'm white and you're darker." I sympathised. THen the bus came and we got up. We boarded, swiping our dual use metro/bus pass. He moved off to the back of the bus, while I stayed up front. WHich SOUNDS very Rosa Parks-ish, but the men go to the back and WOmen have saved seats in the front, it's not segregated by COLOR. Allah Bless segregation by gender, it's so nice that there is a seat saved for you and you don't have to wait for someone to stand or ask some poor dude who'd been working hard all day to get up.
After a bunch of stops where again i wonder if i should write on the bus ride, and decline in favor of seeing the city and learning this route, a philipino lady gets on and I hear behind me her talking to some other lady who can't speak english well about Deira City Center.
I pop into the seats next to them to help.
"Go City Center?" The lady asks me.
"I'm going City Center, you go with me." I replied using lots of hand genstures.
"What's the next metro station?" I ask the philipino lady.
"Karama." she replies.
"You can go on metro?" I asked the lady not sure if she has a pass or cash for that.
"No City Center, I go City Center." She says in halting English overlayed with a thick Russian accent.
I wrack my brain to make the words come out simpler.
"You have money?" I asked wincing as it sounds like I'm asking for money to help her, but she understands me and pulls out her metro/bus card.
"You come with me okay?" I say again using hand gestures. She nods and smiles. She's in her late 50s and is content to watch the world go by, so I do as well for the rest of the trip til we reached the metro. I stand and wave her to follow me. She stands in a hurry. I point at the Metro station and tell her to come on. We get off and go upstairs and down the LOOOONG walk to the ticket station. I try a few questions in English but she doesn't understand. I shrug and we continue on. We get through the ticket gate and go wait 5 minutes for the next train heading south to Rashidiya. She sees the Metro Map with Deira City Center clearly shown and gets excited and sits down happily on the bench. Then pointed to the sign Rashidiya and got confused. I did a visual demonstration that Deira City center comes before Rashidiya. THen this other guy asks me for directions to Mirdiff, "Last station Rashidiya, get off and take taxi/bus into Mirdif."
I feel like a tour guide but it's nice to help people.
Finally the train comes and we get on. I find her the last seat and order her nicely to sit. Guys pack in all around (as I've chosen the front of the train to sit in not the women's so we can get off at City Center and up the escalaters faster.) and as we got through the next stations more seats open up but I refuse to sit in them far away from the lady, although every single guy in the carriage seemed inclined to offer me the seat. I kept pointing to the lady and saying I should stay with her.
God forbid she gets off the train at the wrong station and gets lost. So finally we reached Deira City Center and we get off and make our way up the many escalaters to the light of day. As we reach ground level I point up at the Magrudy's window and then at my badge, "My work." I say. She makes AHA! Murmers. i take her up the first escalater and she's determined to go off on her own but she gets lost not knowing the mall doesn't connect to the metro entrance. You have to go to the third floor. So I take her up and she thanks me again but looks more lost. "Sharja" she says. My heart sinks. I brought her all this way and she still wants to go further. I can't take her to Sharja. "Bus?" she asks. Ahhhhh the bus to SHarja. I helpfully point out the bus stations on the mall map, which unlike RTA is user firendly. She nods happily and goes off. We part ways but I see she's wondering and start moving my way to the ground floor, which happenes to be the same way as the bus station, she followed me at a long distance, as the signs clearly showed the way this time. At least I dont feel guilty leaving her lost at the top floor. That would be evil.
So it was 1pm on the nose 1:01pm as I stared at my clock. I had a few hours to kill until my shift started. I could park at a cafe and write but again... I haven't had time to mall browse by myself for a long time!!!! A LOOOONG TIME!!! I'd almost forgotten the fun of actaully going into stores you plan on buying nothing from and touching and checking out everything. I started in of course a BOOKSTORE...okay i just can't help it I really DO love books. It's my Rival Company though so I hide my name tag under my hijab.
Yes I'm confident enough to walk around Dubai all day with Brandy pined to my shoulder. They are having a sale, it's not as good as the sale we had recently, but a discounted book is a discounted book! So I look around for my favorite authors and find Anne McCaffrey on sale. YAY!!! I find 2 books for my daughter and 2 for my son. Although I got SOOO many books (another post later) from Magrudy's sale, there hadn't been enough of my fav authored books. So leaving there I moved on to the next store. 1:10pm, what? it only took ten minutes? I was surprised. Shopping with my friends we used to spend so much time at the mall when i was a teen. Though I was with them and we needed time for talking and opinionating everything, now i was alone. So in silence I shopped. Or window shopped. Checking out clothes that were rediculously fancy and sizes so small I actaully saw one dress my six year old daughter would have trouble shimmying into. I was tempted to ask the sales lady if anyone had ever actaully fitted into the dress but didn't want to get laughed out of the store, sooo I smirked to myself and walked away. Shop after shop it was just rediculously fun and peaceful. I learned FULL HD TVs are absolutly stunning and yes I do want one in the future when i can save up for one. About clothes though, shopping for them puts you in two frames of mind... I'm gonna work my butt off to fit in that skin-tight dress ...or... that's so depressingly small I'll never even fit my toe in it... I felt like both off and on and was further discouraged by how many outfits I didn't even like! Did no shop have my style or fashion? It was disconcerting.... the ones i did like fell under can't fit my toe category. But it was fun searching for my never ending quest to find a Purse that screams ME! I want red, bright or dark, shiny, with pockets and gold touches. I've never found it. Nothing in dozens of shops screamed to me, this is your dream purse. Same went for abayas. Nothing with thin red trim and no flashy sparkles.... i got frustrated so much I got a bit mean, in the last shop instead of browsing i just asked the poor guy, "DO you have red abaya?"
"No, Black abaya."
"No I want red trimmed abaya?"
"R E D"
"R E D !!" I enounciated.
"Red!" he said...
"Yes Red Trim..."
I had had it. i walked out even as he suddenly grasped the concept. I felt bad being mean to him. It probably wasn't his fault his ENglish sucked but I was pissed, he didn't even learn the lingo of his trade, at least basic colors!!! I checked out perfume shops next to chill myself out. They had some pretty small bottles in pretty jewel colors for only 20 dhs. I wanted to smell some to calm myself but the sales guy looked pushy and I didn't want another encounter and wasn't planning to buy anyways so left there too.
My last shop filled me back with the calm I had had earlier. A shop with crystal nicknacks, and collectable porcelin dolls and bling bling jewelry full of crystals. But the best thing they had were CARNIVAL MASKS FROM VENICE!!!! Anyone who really KNOWS me knows I love masks. I stared at the empty faces and zoned out on the swirls of colors. One red and gold one almost had me weeping, until the sales lady was trying to push too much (hello that price tag does say 1,300DHS ON SALE). I made my way back to work. I'd gotten a fresh perspective on Customer Service in the dozens of shops i visited. Greet, Offer Help, Help or get out of their way, AND DONT HOVER!!!
I started my shift feeling so calm and fabulous. I hadn't writen hardly a single word of my story, but I had learned so much, about myself and the world. It's so good to help other people. It's so good to be kind to yourself. We had a new demo product of Leap Frog Junior and I helped everyone learn about it and then took it to customers and quickly managed to sell one of the other Leap Frog products. Guy needed a present for his daughter, who happened to be in that age category. Another Customer helped.
I made that my goal to help as many as I could. Even the guy who came with a list of books he wanted to get from our competetor downstairs and was trying to see if we had better prices. I gladly helped him figure out how to save the most money, as I wasn't allowed to give him bigger discount. And I had used them to save money too so why shouldn't he? My favorite customer though was a man needing a relationship book because he was late getting home to his wife. I offered him The Surrendered Wife (which I highly reccomend and will be blogging about later) and outlined the book for him. He was just so surprised and amazed by the info. It was fun to help him. I wish him a happy marriage.
We have a lot of new staff, because we had a major staff shuffle so I tried hard to also get closer to them. Let them see me and understand me better. The team is getting stronger and that is awesome to work with.
Finally it was time to go home. I braved the battle of Thursday night rush hour at Carrefour to buy diapers then hightailed it back to the metro to get home. I could have wrote on the metro home and racked up another 800 words.... but why break the tradition I'd had all day? I opened my Anne McCaffrey book and got so absorbed I looked up just in time to see we had reached my stop and i almost missed it. I jumped off the metro and made my way out. I had to wait an aweful 15 minutes for a taxi. There was another lady who came up after me waiting too and I was nervous to ask her if we were going the same way and wanted to share a taxi (so we wouldn't have to wait longer). But I felt shy and nervous.. until again I remebered what my job is.... "What way are you headed?" I asked. "Oh, no, I'm waiting for my husband." She smiled. Ahhh... see now I learned she's not taxi-grabbing-competition. I smiled back. Her husband got her and I waited for another 5 minutes. The taxi drive home was the final point of the night. His driving was bold, assertive, a little wild (when he missed the wrong turn and had to back up), just like my driving, so I knew I was in safe hands. He was blasting Indian Pop-Rock. Not the high pitched normal indian music, real awesome stuff all in Indian Language. I melted back in the seat and just chilled all the way home. "Cool music." I said as I paid swiftly and got out. I then waited calmly while he flipped a fast dangerous u-turn where had I been walking I would have been flattened by my own driver, and sped off into the night. I went upstairs and found my family in bed fast asleep.
I had TIME for Soooo much today. I accomplished soo much and helped so many poeple and discovered so much about myself and others.....................
.........................Yet there lay the three most precious people I didn't have time for.
Today I had T I M E.