Thursday, February 11, 2010

DICO PERSO: When it rains, it pours


Last week was total hell. It started with a few lumps on my right underarm which I assumed were a reaction to my new deodorant. Over the next few days, they multiplied, got bigger and so painful it was impossible for me to move my entire arm anymore. I couldn’t lift it or even wave it left or right! The existing swelling got bigger and redder and the new ones were expanding all around my underarm. I got so tired I couldn’t get out of bed and every time I would stand up, I’d get dizzy. I quickly realized I got some sort of flu virus, and the swelling was nothing more than fever outbreaks. Thankfully, they lasted about three days at their worst and then they started to disappear gradually. Now, I only have a couple of lumps remaining and the pain is almost gone.

Tuesday night was one of those nights… First there was another big bang on our street at around 1 in the morning. We called, as usual, and they said that the power had to be cut on purpose to repair something. (Please keep that response in mind; it will be useful later on). So we thought, fine. We’ll wait and see. At around 2am, we decided to go to bed because it looked like the repairs were going to take ages.

At around 3, our neighbor runs screaming and knocking at our door. We could only hear her scream “M. is gone! M. is gone!”

M. is her oldest son who’s only 25 years old. It looked like he had fallen off his bunkbed’s top level and he was not responding! His younger brother tried to make him walk, even slapped him violently, but M. just wouldn’t wake up! We didn’t know if he had lost consciousness after the fall or before; all we knew was that once on the floor all his nerves relaxed completely and he wet himself, unresponsive. His father was speechless, sitting on the side and his little sister was just in shock. My mom immediately ran to check his vitals as I called the Red Cross.

These young men are just outstanding! It took them only a few minutes to reach our street from Spears (obviously, and thank God, the roads were empty at that hour). The RC crew climbed the 8th floor in no time and immediately attended to M.’s needs, in the dark, with a flashlight… They were amazing!

In the meantime, we called Électricité du Liban again to ask them if the repairs would take much longer since we have an emergency and the Red Cross may need to transport an unconscious person on a stretcher. Their answer: “tell them to take the stairs”. I kid you not. They had the vicious audacity to answer that. Never mind the fact that the stairway’s too narrow to fit a stretcher horizontally.

Didn’t I tell you that when it rains, it pours?

Turned out that, as usual, they hadn’t sent any crew to assess the situation, let alone repair anything. And as usual, their very first answer (which if you remember was that the power cut was intentional) was indeed one of their many lies.

These employees are so arrogant they speak in a condescending tone and very quickly your frustration turns to plain anger. I gave the whole “you work for the people; we pay your salaries” speech; I mentioned that this is the third time such damages happen so obviously the smart experts at Électricité du Liban should maybe change the faulty pieces; I certified that the issue is not an overnight thing (from experience) and that last time it took them 15 minutes so why make us wait until the morning; and finally that the repair team is lying in their feedback, claiming the damages are too “big” (whatever that means) so they avoid doing their job and leave it to the day shift (as usual).

More arrogance and condescendence thrown my way (of course).

At this point, I am too upset to remain calm and tell the idiot on the line that if he doesn’t like his job, he can find something else to do and leave his position to someone who would actually deserve his salary. I reminded him that the number I called is for Customer Service (yeah right) and that there are rules of decency when answering such help lines (yeah right) and that I was glad everything was recorded because this time I would actually place a complaint. I made sure to let him know that yes, we’ve threatened before, and yes, because we’re silly unselfish people, we wouldn’t pursue our complaint and carry the weight of taking away someone’s job but that this time, they did not deserve any mercy because they showed no compassion; yes, their reply to our emergency (i.e. The Red Cross should take the unconscious patient on a stretcher down the narrow stairs) was unacceptable and that this would be the main argument in my complaint just to show the kind of vulgarity we were forced to deal with, in addition to the power cuts. Finally I tried explaining to him that we’re all people living in that country, facing the same shit every day, and if we cannot have the humanity to be compassionate towards each other or at least decent; then we deserve all the shit we live in. Every time employees, no matter how low or high on their company’s hierarchy, get some authority, even in the tinniest of tasks, they turn to savages who take all their inferiority complexes out on others and turn into psychotic sadists.

An hour later, the power was back.

All this hostility is unbelievable. People are so self-centered it’s freaking scary! When our neighbor was shouting through the rooftops, begging for help, none of our building’s residents even checked on them! It so happens that there are politicians living on our street and that they have security guards at all hours. They did hear the screams and tried localizing where they were coming from but couldn’t because all the buildings were dark and they couldn’t see where the incident was happening. Finally, when they saw the ambulance in front of our building, and M.’s mother on her balcony with a flashlight trying to point the Red Cross in the right direction; one of the guards immediately followed the RC, with his own flashlight and running up those 8 floors. A perfect stranger. We didn’t even know. Climbed all this way to check on us. While our neighbors with whom we share a building for the past 20+ years have not even called to ask, let alone climb any stairs. Not even the next day.

That’s the kind of world we live in.

Last week, one of our neighbors on the floor right under us was pounding at his door so hard he almost broke it. My mom and I ran to him in panic, thinking someone was maybe after him or he was in need of medical assistance or something. Two young university students live in that apartment with their grandmother and on that day she was in the mountains and they were all alone. Turned out the younger had locked his brother out and he didn’t have any spare key. He assumed his brother was still sleeping; apparently when he’s one of those heavy sleepers which explains why he was pounding on the door so hard. So we told him to come up to our home and use the phone because he had left his at home. He tried calling both the house and the mobile, in vain. So we started to worry. This boy couldn’t have been so deaf. Maybe he had fallen while taking his bath; maybe he had fainted; who knew. So we ran back to his door, and while pounding like crazy, called the super to get someone to either pick the lock or just break the damn thing down! The super’s answer: “These boys are crazy. They’re always shouting”. We literally begged for help (which never came by the way) as we were trying to pick the lock ourselves. Experiment’s findings: we would make terrible thieves! Finally the boy had to go back to class, he had a mid-term and he told us he’d pass by his brother’s friends’ to check if they knew anything. He indeed found his brother there, without his mobile. Thank God, nobody was hurt. But seriously, the pounding was resounding throughout our building and no one, not a single soul, came to check on that boy! What if he was in distress? He was very grateful for our help anyway, and he came by in person to reassure us after class which was very nice of him (he could have just called) and thank us for everything… And for feeding him! LOL! (well he was lucky to have passed by after my birthday and there was cake leftovers!! LOL)

But I have to wonder. What is this society we live in? Seriously now. And I don’t mean it in a grandmother’s way. I am genuinely wondering what kind of world we live in where nobody cares to check on a neighbor in distress…

Note: I’ll be heading back to Dubai soon. I’m kind of worried I’ll have nothing to blog about over there! No power cuts. Fast internet connection at all times. It’s going to be touch finding inspiration :P

Note (bis): Watched New York, I Love You. Beautiful character-driven film. Go, watch, enjoy. And please, don’t do like the stupid 15-something little girls and boys who were giggling in the row right in front of us; they apparently were waiting for Shia LaBeouf to do his thing; and once he appeared and they realized he wasn’t going to pull a Transformers’ sexy stunt, just left in the middle of the movie (!) while giggling and taking their sweet time, obstructing our view. God, I had forgotten how bad it was to watch movies in the weekend, before midnight! Stupid kids. Take the time to also check Paris, Je T'Aime.

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