Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why do I get so upset here?

Yet why do I prefer to stay?  Well I cant answer the second question--not now at least, but I can address the question of my post title...Why do I get so upset?

Do I have to write the usual caveat--that there are so many GOOD things here--so I dont offend Egyptians and Egypt-lovers?  Should I even care?  It's my blog so I should write whatever I want, right?

I think I'll do that and not give a damn about being all PC.  And so...

If you take the populace out of the equation--disregard the Egyptian people for a moment and concentrate only on infrastructure, goods and services--Egypt is hard enough to deal with.  Roads are rocky and bumpy (drivers are worse), electricity and water go off on a daily basis--even if it's just for a sort period of time, losing internet connection is as easy as losing socks in a dryer, and there's no Walmart here my friends.  Despite all the new "superstores" like Carrefour, Hyper1 and Spinney's, there is no such thing here as one stop shopping!  There's always at least a few important items you cant find at one store, and have to go to another to buy.  I can get sauerkraut at Hyper, for example, but have to go to Carrefour to find American coffee.  There's my brand of salad dressing at Spinney's, but linen choices there suck.  A shopping trip for groceries and some household items involves going to 3 stores.  It's an exhausting endeavor and usually I only have enough energy to get to one store a day.  And so I wait til the next weekend to resume my quest.  And in the span of 3 weekends, I have finally gathered all that I need, have one weekend "off" and then have to begin the whole quest again for the new month!  Now to some this may seem ridiculously silly and spoiled.  But when you have to deal with all the other crap here, every aggravation becomes a mountain you can not climb.

There's no such thing as a Home Depot--nothing even close.  You have to go to one tiny store for electrical items---store is really an oxymoron--it's more like a kiosk.  Likewise for traditional hardware items--that's a
whole other place, as is paint and brushes--oh and let me not forget plumbing supplies, door locks and hinges---all in separate places.

Now, if you cant manage--once you have found everything, to actually use/install/repair it yourself, you need to call someone in to do it.  No jacks-of-all-trades here!   Everyone has their specialty--a plumber might be able to install a faucet, but you have to get a plasterer to fix the 5 foot hole he made in your wall.  You need a plumber to connect your water heater, but an electrician to rig up the pipes--dont ask me why!  An electrician can install wires for lights, but a carpenter has to drill holes for the fixture itself.  And speaking of carpenters, they range from someone who simply pounds nails al the way up to one who can make you a bedroom set from scratch.  And between the former and the later, there are a hundred different levels and a hundred different men to do the job.

Now we get to the frustrating part...NO, amazingly, we hadnt arrived yet.  The really really really bad part is......for every one honest man here who is willing to do the job correctly--and not over charge, there are a thousand looking to rip you off for as much money as they can sucker you out of, as well as doing a piss-poor job.  This might range from charging you 5 extra cents for each screw, to thousands of Egyptian pounds for building you a table and chairs.In truth, there are more liars, swindlers, con men and just plain criminals here in one city block than I ever heard tell of in America!  Bernie Madoff has nothing on Egyptians.

Workers of all kinds will smile in your face, swear on their sainted mother's grave they will do exactly as you ask for the price you agree on, but in the end, you will over-pay, rip your hair out with the crappy results, and end up hiring yet another con-artist to clean up another's mess.  And this cycle continues, again and again.

I was going to say more about the con-men here, but now I dont have to!  This says it all.  No one is immune, not even your own family members!  The ultimate con.....

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