Saturday, May 8, 2010

The ways of the world, a cup of tea & a crazy kid!

This weekend was pretty choc-a-bloc and gone in the blink of an eye - why is that always the case for weekends yet the working week drags on? And as our weekend ends, most of yours are just beginning. I'm still getting used to waking up for work on a Saturday...I don't think I will ever get used to that.

1/2 of Thursday was spent at a work function, which was really nice...apart from the crazy kid who stalked Duma and I all day and was fortunate enough to not get punched in the face or used as a training dummy for us to practice our UFC moves. This kid looked like the epitomy of in-breeding gone wrong - big ears, big teeth and the thickest monobrow I have ever seen...he followed us all day and kept staring at us saying "craaaaaaaazy" while he made this scary clown face and tossed his head from side to side. Seriously, he doesn't realise how close he came to the biggest ass-kicking of his young life, but we felt like family day probably wasn't the right time to put him in his place!

Anyway, the day was totally different to what I'm used to back home for work functions - which would normally consist of after work drinks or a BBQ, more drinks, mingling and maybe the odd prize here or there. If you are lucky there would be 1 major prize drawn at the end of the day and your chances of winning were minimal.

Here, that isn't how they do things. All the strings are pulled and people expect that they are getting something purely for showing up (which includes bringing their immediate family, additional wives, cousins, parents etc). Everyone has their own entourage it seems. There were LCD's up for grabs, laptops, perfume, vouchers, name it, it was a prize. It was amazing, it was surprising, it was intoxicating...clapping and shouting 'mabrook' everytime someone's name or employee number was called and seeing their excitement. My cheeks were so sore from smiling and seeing everyone so caught up in the moment.

Now, for me this happy day also presented a sad moment of realisation. At work we have a few men who are referred to as "Tea Boys" who are contractors. I don't like the term Tea Boy, since these are grown ass men with families and making tea is far from the only thing they do. I was hoping to see these men there but I avoided asking them last week if they woud be going, on the off chance that they were not invited.

I was so happy when I saw them there on the day, I feel as though they are underappreciated and treated like the ugly step-child and it really erks me. Sitting in the men's tent with Duma, we watched one of them make a cup of tea and I said "I'm pleased that just for once, he gets to make and enjoy a cup of tea for himself. I really hope he wins a prize today". (He is the main guy on my floor, so he is the darling who brings me piping hot coffee at the same time each day).

Anyway, off he trots with his cup of tea, smiling to us as he walks away. And then reality sets in - he didn't make that cup of tea for him, on his day off he is still making tea for people and carrying boxes and running errands. Duma also pointed out that this guy wasn't likely to get a prize since clearly he doesn't have an employee number and wasn't given a corresponding ticket :( My heart sank.

It made me sad because he is the most lovely guy and deserves to be treated like a human being and entitled to his own time. Time is one of our most precious things because we don't ever get it back once its gone its gone. I'm almost certain that he wasn't paid for the extra day of work either, but that I cannot confirm.

But in my fleeting moment of sadness and guilt for being afforded more opportunities simply because of who I am and where I'm from, I saw him smile. I saw him giggle and grin, a grin so big and wide that it warmed my heart. He was watching the kids playing a game, running and falling over and out of control. I don't know if he was smiling because he was thinking about his own kids back home, if he was just happy to be amongst a crowd of people, or if he was so overwhelmed by the innocence of kids playing and having fun. Either way, that moment was the single best moment of the weekend for me. He has such a kind smile and Duma and I made a pact that so long as our prize wasn't a 32-inch LCD, we would give it to him.

After a few more hours, we decided to leave the event early as it was just too hot and we had other plans later in the day. So imagine my surprise when this morning I walk into the office and am told to go and draw my lucky dip for my prize,which we were entitled to since we were there for at least 1/2 the day. I won a 50 RO (AUD$150) petrol voucher, which will surely last me all of about 9 months! I asked my collegue whether the Tea Man would have been given a prize and she said that everyone had considering there were so many. On the walk back to my office, I ran into him and asked if he got a prize. He beamed and told me that we had won the same prize and I was so totally made my day.

And for those of you not in Oman...just to put this into context - 50 RO is probably about 1/3 of his monthly salary - whereas that would be what most of us expats spend on 1 ball ticket, getting our hair done or on a new outfit.

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