Thursday, February 07, 2008

Here Comes Stupid

We moved out offices about 2 weeks ago; thank GOD – OUT of the Shuwaikh Port. If anyone is even remotely considering renting an office space inside the Port, it is a logistical nightmare. Our office had been there for years, and I pity who ever moved in there after us. For office staff: Kuwaitis are given 1 year entrance passes, other nationalities 6 months (depending on nationality). Every time you want a visitor to come see you, they have to stand in line behind a gazillion smelly people to get a visitor gate pass. And then – you get to deal with the “extra friendly and professional” guards at the gate (who change every few months). Terrible.

Anyhoo, our new office space is about 1000 times better. It is huge and I have a kickin new office. All the managers are going out and buying our own stuff to furnish our spaces (alas, it has become a competition now between me and the Kuwaiti manager next ot me to out-do each other – he’s winning). Being me, I have a particular "theme" in mind, so I went to Dhajeej to find The Perfect Carpet. I went into 3 different carpet shops looking for The Perfect Shade and I picked out normal looking grades. At all 3 shops, dudes quoted me 17 kd a meter ($62/yd), proudly saying, “Made in Kuwait.”

Now, I’m not a snob about this kind of stuff. Being American, we realize that most of the products in the US are from China anyways. When I came to Kuwait in the early 90’s, no one would ever say, “Made in Kuwait” thinking that it would be more prestigious to the customer. They lied. “Oh Madame, it is made in Paris” (also known as Fahaheel); or Italy or whatever. The perception was that if it was made somewhere European or American, it was better quality (and they could bump up the price because of “shipping costs”). Yeah. (If you don't believe me, go check out American Home. Yikes.)

So, why the F all of a sudden does carpet made locally (out of the finest imported polyester?) cost so much? I asked the guy if it has gold threading. Is it because I’m foreign and blonde and they think I’m stupid? Does “Made in Kuwait” at 17 kd/m imply that there is a tribe of Bedu weavers somewhere in one of Kuwait’s industrial areas with an enormous (polyester) loom, working away by hand? Am I to be impressed? I mean – WTF. I could import my own carpet for less than that. If you string together Ikea carpets, it comes out to less money per meter.

Trash bags are made in Kuwait and I’m not impressed by that either – and you can still buy those at Mirah Center for like 200 fils a dozen….

That is just freakin unbelievable.

On a similar note, I went to KFH cars yesterday in Shuwaikh. As I stood in the showroom (the only woman around and fer sure the only blonde), there were 2 salesmen obviously on a break who smiled at me, but didn’t offer me any help. A younger salesman, sporting a virtual-beard (guess he couldn’t fill in all that facial hair), walked towards me and the 2 older salesman told him to help me. Young dude seemed very reluctant (blonde? Boobs? Foreigner?) and actually walked by me. I was wearing one of my conservative “manager” suits, so there shouldn’t have been any temptation vice associated. I made eye contact and he said, “What do you want?” (Oh no he di’n’t!) I said, “Eshtaaaawa! What do I WANT? I WANT a car!” pretty loudly. So, the 10 or so men who were milling about immediately stopped, turned and started laughing. Did he think I was there for a phucking chicken shawarma? To his credit, he instantly started apologizing and became very professional.

It was kinda cool because while I was there, I ran into 2 long-bearded KFH guys that I used to work with a long time ago and they were really friendly and nice to me (yippee – wastah at KFH car showroom!).

Thank God, no one tried to send me to the “ladies section” because I am so tired of biting off heads. I used to run into the main office of KFH’s men’s section just to bother people and to see how long it would take them to say, “Sister! Sister! There is a ladies entrance…” Tee hee. I’m not your damn sister and if I was, I'm pretty sure you would disown me for being "immoral" (not that I care because I like it).

I do have to say that KFH has gotten a lot better in the past few years. Most people are very kind and professional. The guys at the call center are exceptional.

This had been a weird week.

I can’t wait to get to the chalet tonight (the alternate - as the regular one is now burned and everything including the way-cool CDs are gone). Another Absolute™ weekend.

No comments: