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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Would you like barbecue sauce with that?

One of the many interesting quirks to Cairo is how problems are solved.  My American upbringing taught me that things should be solved quickly, efficiently and that solving problems correctly was very important.  Here things move at a different pace, as is evident by the most common said phrase when problems arise, "Insha'Allah" meaning "if God wills it".

Have a giant pothole in the road?  Don't fill it in or repair the road, instead have all the cars move to the other side and drive against oncoming traffic.

Is there a roof that leaks in your school?  No point fixing the leaks, instead gather large supplies of plastic sheeting to bring in and cover all the electronics when it rains.

Internet not working? Why find out what's wrong with the wiring in your house, instead let's run a line from the main source outside and in through your living room window.

Now, some of the solutions we see on a daily basis are down right ingenious.  Others make us want to tear our hair out in frustration.

And sometimes they make me smile.

Like yesterday when we went to City Stars for lunch.  Our usual routine is to stop at Dairy Queen on our way out for a cool frosty treat.  Ryan was in a store paying for something while I was given the task of ordering the ice cream.  Now, Ryan always gets the same thing.  An oreo blizzard, with hot fudge sauce added.  We've made this same order at least 20 times in the last 3 years, at this exact same location.  Sometimes the language barrier makes things dicey, sometimes there's new staff who don't know how to use the machine, but most of the time it's no big deal.

Here's how it went yesterday:

Me:  One oreo blizzard, add hot fudge please.

DQ guy:  Ok, one blizzard, oreo, add hot fudge?  (Quizzical expression.  He gets the blizzard added to the computer and then spends at least 2 min punching various buttons trying to get the hot fudge added.)

Another DQ guy comes over and starts a rapid fire conversation in Arabic with the first guy.  Now they're wrestling over the machine, each trying to prove to the other that they can make this happen.  Things are being added and taken away from the computer monitor in front of me like crazy.

Third DQ guy working in the back leans over the counter and yells something in Arabic.  They have a quick meeting and come back to the computer, punch in something and turn to me smiling.

I look at the screen:

Me:  Barbeque sauce?

DQ Guy:  Yes!  (smiles very enthusiastically)  

Me: Ok

So I handed over my money and took a picture of the receipt because it was all so absurdly fitting with life in Egypt.

We got the better end of the deal in the end, normally it's an extra 6 LE to add hot fudge.  I guess we'll call this the barbecue discount?  :)

1 comment:

  1. HA! As long as you didn't actually GET BBQ sauce on that Blizzard...

    Talk about culture shock, huh? But it must be quite an adventure living there, too.