Category Archives: Rants

“Going Native”

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A friend in Dubai used the phrase “going native” with me as we were driving around….. see, the apparent custom here is that if you’re sitting behind another car in traffic at a traffic light and it turns green, the first one to honk wins. Apparently. So, as the light in front of us turned green, I said “honk”. She cracked up and said “so you’ve been here long enough to be going all native on us, huh?” Made me laugh.

Driving in Dubai has a bit of an aggressive edge to it. Not assertive….drivers are waaaaay past that. It’s aggressive. If you don’t push out into a traffic circle when the lane’s almost clear, you’ll suffer the horn-honking wrath of the drivers behind you. Now, TBG, who is normally one of the most rational, calm and reasonable drivers that you’ll ever meet, showed me a most surprising side of his driving ability…… TBG “went native!”

I was navigating. Normally, not an issue…. But I’d missed an exit a week or so before because it looked like a construction site entrance, and we ended up having to drive about an additional 30 minutes because I’d missed it. So this time, that exit that looked like a construction entrance wasn’t gonna fool me….. right off a 7-lane expressway…… uh yeah, I was certain it was our exit.

*sigh* It wasn’t. TBG didn’t fuss, he just started looking around to figure out how to get us out of this construction area….. found a bit of a road in the right direction and headed out. But the road was getting narrower and narrower and narrower…… and was now separated from the main highway, but adjacent, but now… it… ended. Sand. No pavement. Hmmm…. We’re less than 20’ from the shoulder of the road we shoulda been on with only flat fairly smooth sand between us and it… you guessed it, there he went! Crazy, but he got us there!

A bit later, some big FJ was trying to crowd us out of our lane, kept easing over and easing over…. Normally, they’d have had that spot, no problem. But we needed to move over a couple lanes and exit pretty quick, so no joy for him! Honking and flashing did that driver no good, TBG wasn’t moving to the left to let him around on the right, as we needed to exit. So the FJ ended up somewhere a few cars behind us, TBG did a “Dubai Slide” over a couple two or three lanes, and we made our exit. Ba-da-bing!

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On the way to eat supper and then to the grocery, our four lanes quickly change to three with no signs or indications…. The road just has no stripes any longer, leaving drivers to attempt to sort out what’s happening till the stripes resume… but with only three lanes now. Oddly, there were three cabs in the lanes adjacent to us, and they tend to drive with some serious abandon here…. But when the dust settled and the stripes reappeared, those cabs were behind TBG, cause our supper stop was just ahead! I think I noticed one of the cabbies grumbling to himself.

As always, there’s someone that doesn’t want to wait in the line of traffic, their business is ever so much more important than yours. They’ll drive along the shoulder, or in a turn lane, or in the lane where cars park, or a fire lane, or a merging lane until it’s no longer possible to go, and they expect someone to let them in. And if there’s more than a 2 cm gap (about an inch) between you and the car in front of you, they’ll attempt to wedge themselves right in there. That “someone” wasn’t gonna be TBG that day.

Parking garages tend to be a huge free-for-all. Really. Parking spaces in Dubai are insanely hard to come by sometimes, and when people think they’ve seen someone heading towards their car, they’ll come to a dead stop and wait. And wait. And honk. And wait. Parking garages are insanely loud places, the honking echoes many times. Crazy. Normally, we’ll just pull out around the waiting car and drive on, there’s likely another spot somewhere.

This parking garage had the red/green lights over each parking space to indicate occupied or open. If you’re looking down a quarter-mile of parked cars, those little lights REALLY help! TBG saw a green one and headed down the aisle….. sadly, against the arrows. Going the wrong way.   Unlike others, he didn’t stop and back up, he just continued unabashedly down to the open spot.   And parked. TBG had gone native, y’all!!

Unsubscribing from email rant……

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Folks, I get hundreds of emails daily.  This may surprise some of you, most will think “so?  I do too!”  But if most of them are promotional in nature and since I can’t take advantage of the offers, there is no need to continue receiving them.  Kind of a “don’t show me what I can’t have” sort of deal, you know?  So, I wanted to unsubscribe.  I’m gonna describe that process so far to you – so if you don’t want to hear me whine for a bit, move along.

SOME  ARE EASY      But some are insane.  Local meat shop in Dothan, Butcher’s block for example….. there’s a link to click in their email.  You click that link and it takes you to a page that requires you to decipher a million different options before you can find the one to unsubscribe.  Even then, you have to enter your email address, even though you arrived there from an email sent TO YOU FROM THEM.

Or this one, from Southern Garden Scents, a company I used to order fragrance from…….

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Now remember, I’ve received an advertising email from them.  I clicked on the link in the email to unsub.  THEN, I had to re-enter my email address to access my email preferences or to unsubscribe.  THEN I had to receive ANOTHER email from them with the comment that “someone” had requested I be unsubscribed.  If it was me, and I really want to unsub, click this link…. I did.  And got redirected to yet ANOTHER subscriber update page

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with a “click to unsubscribe” button at the veeeeerrrry bottom.   Now, once you click that, guess what??  Southern Garden Scents and poMMo mailing management software assume that since I’ve only jumped through their hoops and confirmed three times so far that it’s still possible I might not know what I’m doing.  This is insult to injury!!

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I wonder if the page owner realizes what horrible mailing list management software this is???   Icing on the cake is that after all this, I received yet ANOTHER email from Southern Garden Scents confirming that I’ve been unsubscribed.   And poMMo mailing management software – you should be ashamed!!

The total epitome of annoying unsubs, I believe, is my personal experience with a Middle Eastern Business named Namshi.  They have a website that advertises free shipping to the entire region.  I saw a blouse I loved, on sale.  When I clicked to put it in my basket, the sale price disappeared.  But I thought I was in luck, there was one of those handy little “Got Questions?” live chat tabs, so I clicked it and filled it out with my question, and sat back and awaited the answer as to why the price changed.

don't ever ever ever fill in this form on their website if you do not wish to begin innundation with marketing emails!

don’t ever ever ever fill in this form on their website if you do not wish to begin innundation with marketing emails!

And I waited and waited, and finally called to ask why, was told that someone would call me back and provide that help,  must be a mistake so sorry, no can help.  Never got a call.  What I *did* start getting was a brazillion marketing emails from Namshi – like at least 3-4 a day.  I hit the “unsubscribe” link, put my email in, and assumed it would stop.  No such luck, the email kept coming.  No way was I gonna buy from a company with sketchy business practices that doesn’t  reply to their customers.

I put in a complaint form in their “contact us” section, and was told to use the unsubscribe link in the emails.  I explained I had, to no avail.  They asked what email address I had subscribed with.  Though we’d been emailing back and forth, I provided it.  They replied that it wasn’t found in their subscription database.  I explained I hadn’t subscribed to anything, but HAD tried to ask a question using their form – that must be where they added me to their lists.  They replied they’d taken care of the matter and closed out the complaint form.

No joy, the emails kept coming.  *sigh*  So, if you’d like, just re-read the paragraph above to see exactly what happened next, with the exception of an added snippy “Each email you receive has unsub instructions at the bottom.  Please follow them.”

Well allrighty then – I copied every single message – enclosed them in a reply, and asked what I should do next to stop their marketing messages,  because surely they didn’t want to send out unsolicited, unwanted marketing emails.

Amazingly, they sent me a message about “problem resolved”.  And there it was.  Done.  Finally.  After about three phone calls and 12 emails.

And my personal favorite so far – Everyday Minerals…..amazing product, really.  Excellent mineral makeup.  But there is no “unsubscribe” link in their advertising email.  You are directed to their website to “manage your account”.   But this is the deal, you don’t *have* to have an account in order to check out, you can do so as a “guest”.  But then you’re magically subscribed to the email newsletters.  Sooooo, since I checked out as a guest, I have to FIRST create a customer account, THEN reply to the emails prompting me to confirm that I really *do* want to create this account, THEN log into this account, THEN unsubscribe from the newsletter.  Holy cow.  At this point, I decided that SURELY the companies involved had no idea how frustrating or aggravating this process is to their previous (and future!) customer s and I decided to let them know exactly what the procedure was, and how it worked.  Sent to the only email address I could find, a personal shopper named Cristy.  This is her response….

Hello Debbie,

Thank you for contacting us.  I’m sorry to hear about this.  I have forwarded your feedback over to our IT team so that they can look into this right away.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Cristy,
Everyday Minerals

OK, so now I felt just a little bit bad for unloading on such a nice person.  Just a little bit.

No Paper for You!

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I think the one black spot out of all my trips to the Dragon Mart here in Dubai (giant Chinese shopping warehouse/madhouse) so far was yesterday, I visited one of the toilets off the main hallway…. Walked in to see 3 doors all closed.  Well, I’ve learned that most toilets have a symbol to tell you if they’re occupied…. One was green, the other two were red, one having the mop bucket and cleaning supplies in front of it, obviously being cleaned, right?

I entered the green door, to find no paper.  *sigh*… minor inconvenience, right?  Walked back out. Looking for supplies, or perhaps a paper towel to use in a pinch…. No joy.  A woman came from the other occupied stall, and I said “paper??”  She shook her head “no”…..  and pointed towards the door with the mop bucket in front of it.  OK, I’ll wait for a bit till she’s finished cleaning….

A few minutes later, a woman in a cleaning uniform exits, WITH HER LUNCH PLATE AND SILVERWARE, scraping her leftovers into the paper towel bin.  She wasn’t cleaning, she was EATING HER LUNCH!!   I said “paper?” She shook her head “no” and said “it is finished”…. I said “where is more?”  she said “it is finished”…..  I looked at her and finally, in an effort to be direct and clear said “go get more”.  She said “it is finished.  I do not understand”.

Insane. I felt like I was replaying a scene from Seinfeld’s “The Soup Nazi” episodes.   But it taught me a lesson…. To carry my own.

Planning? We don’t need no stinkin’ Planning!

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One major difference that I’ve noticed between Dubai and the US is a difference in planning.  For example, I wanted to see when a particular TV show would be appearing so I could watch it.  We get a small “TV-guide” type booklet from our satellite provider (providing we go pick one up.  *sigh*) with a listing of times and shows.  Now, shows here aren’t exactly scheduled, they may start at 735, or at 1615, or even 1210.  They don’t start on the hour and half-hour.  But the booklet’s nowhere close to what’s showing up on the TV screen……lol.  So planning your TV viewing is a challenge.

Shopping papers, sales ads, or grocery fliers – you may get one the day the sale begins, or the day before.  Not like in the US, where most of them will appear on a Wednesday, with sales beginning on the weekend.  Gives one time to plan out meals and budget.

Recreation can be dicey too – there’s a really interesting looking entertainment complex called Global Village.  Image

It’s got tons of cultural exhibits, amusement-type rides, shopping, dining and performance venues.  I had read about some cool-sounding dance exhibitions, one Egyptian, one Jordanian.  I wanted to plan a trip to Global Village to see them.  I checked their website, http://www.globalvillage.ae which routed me to their facebook page.  I didn’t find a schedule, but I found a phone number -, so I called to ask when I might be able to see these dancers.  The conversation went something like this…..

“Hello”

“Hello!  I’m trying to find the schedule of entertainment so I can see some dancers from Egypt and Jordan.  Where would I find the schedule for upcoming dancers?”

“Yes, we have dancers from Egypt and Jordan”

“Great.  When do they perform?  When can I see them next?”

“Yes, they may next be dancing from time to time”

“OK.  When next?  Where is the schedule?”

“Schedule posted daily ma’am.  On website.  In the morning.”

“OK. Where is schedule to tell me next time these dancers will perform?”

“Our schedule is posted daily ma’am.  You can check it online.  If not there in the morning, check it on the twitter.”

“So, you cannot tell me the next time the Egyptian or Jordanian dancers perform?”

“Schedule is daily – you can check daily.”

So.  If we want to see these dancers, we have to check their online schedule daily, or “the twitter” to see if they’re performing.  Because they publish the schedule in the morning for that day’s events, “so as not to cause confusion” according to their facebook page.

My solution?  We’ll just pick a day to go.  If the dancers happen to be performing, it’ll be a happy bonus…. If not, no worries!

I shoulda listened.

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But I didn’t.  My friend Kenny gave me some very good advice when I asked him “So, Kenny…. now that I have all this nice new tile in the house, what cleaners should I get to keep it looking good??”

Kenny said “Nuttin.  Just use plain water with some vinegar in it.”

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Simple, right?  The cleaning solution, not Kenny.  <grin>  OK, anyhow, he was absolutely right, I used nothing but plain tap water and white vinegar and that tile looked fabulous.  Lesson learned!

Then, I moved here.  This villa is completely tiled, there is nothing on the floors except tile.  About 22 square miles of tile.  With grout.  Some of which is less-than-new looking.  But, I used Kenny’s magic formula, and it worked great, tile looks great.  Grout?  Not so much.

So I went googling in search of something more “modern” or something “stronger” to make it look better…. and found this concoction containing water, baking soda, vinegar and bleach.  Mixed it up, smelled like it oughta clean grout….. put it all over the 22 square miles of tile and mopped it all right up.  Felt pretty dang proud of myself too, all naturally-cleaning and all, floor all wet and shiny.

TILL IT DRIED.  OH MY GOODNESS.

Streaked and spotted and dried up powdery-looking stuff, I thought “Holy crap.  I’ve got to re-mop this entire 22-square mile freekin floor!”

And this tiny little voice inside, you know-the one you know you should listen to….. said ….

“You shoulda listened to Kenny.”

About six buckets-full of vinegar water and two hours later, all 22 square miles of the floors were all clean and nice-looking.   But, hats off to you, Kenny, and yes, I shoulda listened.