Believe it or not, I am usually the last person to lose patience. You can yell at me, curse, even plug out my PC when I’m playing Final Fantasy XIV in the middle of a dungeon. . . okay maybe not the latter. The point is, usually I’m quite patient, but nothing has tested my patience more than moving abroad.
So aside from the racism that I get here and there, the immense traffic that makes one of the deadliest highways in America look pathetic (cough cough I’m looking at you I-4), and the loud dogs that decide to have fights right outside of your window as you’re about to remember what sleep is like, everything here is great, and I don’t mean that sarcastically.
But I do have a problem with people’s understanding of manners here, and it finally got to me the other day. Recently I decided to extend my time abroad to pursue further studies in religion and I needed to find ways to save money, one of those ways was to make a move to a new apartment (right next door to where I study) and to purchase my own appliances. Long story short, appliance shopping in Egypt right now is a mess. There are whole stores that have no foreign products because of the dismal economy, and other stores that due to their shortage in electronics and appliances will attempt to dissuade you from going elsewhere by telling you that “what you find here is all you will find in the city of Cairo.”
Now, if you’re a vulnerable student of knowledge that doesn’t want to spend his time searching and actually believes the word of anyone that says “Wallahi,” I swear to God, at the end of every sentence then guess what, you listen to them and you buy what they have.
That was my first mistake. Praise be to God that I only bought one item there because I felt I could wait on everything else. Sure enough, a week later I went to another store and they had everything we needed and more, yes I was a bit frustrated that I had even spent any money at the first store, but I was also happy that the one item I did purchase was cheaper there than anywhere else. So at the end of the day I was wise with my money. But what happened next set me off the edge.
So here I am in this new store, searching for a fridge and microwave. We find a nice fridge and settle on it but you see, when you’re shopping in a store in Egypt it’s never just you, or you and your spouse. No, as soon as you walk into a store you have a second wife. . . and his name is Mohammad the Salesman. But you see, this second wife isn’t like any second wife; she isn’t kind and charming, caring and loving, patient and true. Mohammad doesn’t leave you alone for a moment, no, he is incessant and he takes every step with you. He tells you how your first wife will need more space in the fridge (how kind of him), and how the freezer isn’t large enough for the amount of cow you will inevitably slaughter next Eid. Oh Mohammad, how amazingly thoughtful. But you see, Mohammad, he is also problematic in some ways. When your first wife agrees on something, he comes up and defiantly disagrees.
“That fridge is good but this one is better. Don’t buy that one, trust me. It is no good”
“So why do you sell it here Mohammad?”
“Ahh because we sell everything.”
Touché. Spoken like a true salesman.
He goes on and on until you finally don’t want your fridge anymore. It doesn’t matter how nice it was and how practical it was for your uses, nope. You want the fridge that Mohammad wants because whatever fridge gets Mohammad to shut up is the fridge for you.
But it gets better. Finally, you put your foot down and you tell Mohammad,
“Beloved, I appreciate your input but I’m going to get the fridge I want.”
But the pout on his face rivals a 3 year old. What am I to do? Mohammad is upset! What if he spits in my fridge? . . .Oh whatever, give me my fridge dude and let me be out of here. So then you think it’s over, you’ve made it, now it’s time to pay and you’ll be done. But that would be far too easy in Egypt. You go up to the cashier and during the walk you are stared at the entire time like a zebra with no stripes because why would this black guy and seemingly Egyptian woman be shopping for appliances together. . . could they be married? Wait. . .something is wrong with this picture.
You join the line and your turn is up next. You back up a little bit to give the older lady in front of you space to exit the line and then before you know it, BAM! Another old lady bumps her way right in front of you, holds out her receipt and throws it on the table. Now of course I am standing there feeling like I just got out of 3rd grade recess and was in the lunch line looking at the last cheeseburger and some 5th grader just jumped the line and took it.
The heck do I say? She’s bigger than me.
So I say nothing. I just stand there looking disgruntled hoping she will turn around and realize, apologize and let me pass and potentially give me back my lost cheeseburger. But I know better, that can’t happen, it’s Egypt. So she ignores me, never once looking behind her until her son who apparently was raised correctly, (but I’m unsure how) turns around and sees me upset, goes to his mother and lets her know that I was skipped, and what does she do. Turns around, peeks a look at me and turns back around as though I don’t exist. AYWA!
So yes, I am very much annoyed now. But you know what, God is greater than this and I’ll just stand here remembering my Lord and wait until she or the person next to her is done.
So she begins to finish, Praise be to God, it’s my turn. I feel a nudge on my right side and a young girl, maybe 21 years of age, comes and places her receipt in the hand of the cashier and begins to pay.
Next thing you know I begin to hear DMX in my head
Y’all gon make me lose my mind up in here, up in here.
Y’all gon make me go all out up in here, up in here
y’all gon make me act a fool up in here, up in here
y’all gon make me lose my cool up in here, up in here.
Thankfully I followed that up with some Quran.
“So be patient with a beautiful patience.” (70:4)
So I gently tap her on her shoulder.
“Ya ukhti, wallahi ana intathartu hena mumkin ashreen daqaiq. Wa heya, thuma antee tukhatanee. Lee matha?
Girl. I been waiting here for like 20 minutes, home girl and then you decide to skip me. What’s up with that?
She gave me a look like, my bad. But then went back to her business. I lost it y’all, I lost it in the most Kylo Ren or Anakin way possible. I went to the side of her, took my receipt and dropped it in the lap of the cashier and told him, “Here keep this, I don’t need to do business here,” and walked off like the Black King that I was born to be. Y’all think my father named me Arthur and my mom Alexander for me to be waiting in line like that? Pssht.
But then reality kicked in as I began to walk out.
Arthur, these prices are cheap.
Arthur, where will you go if you don’t buy them here?
So, as I was about to walk out the door, I stopped. Took a deep breath and turned to the gathering of workers next to me.
“Excuse me, I’ve been waiting for 20 odd minutes and every time I am about to pay someone skips me in line. Do you guys want my money or not?” But even my complaining didn’t go uninterrupted, remember that lady that skipped me the first time? Yes, well, she made her return like the last Jedi, and came all up in my conversation. As we say in America, I had no chill. So I kindly drew everyone’s attention back to me, looked at the woman awkwardly and said. “Just like this! Actually this is the same woman!”
She backed up and the workers realized I was a bit annoyed. All praises be to God, I got my fridge and microwave in record time and now I’m writing this as I look and smile at them both. I’m sure I will have many more lessons in patience, actually there are so many more that I will be sharing with you in coming posts but for now, let this be a reminder on patience and how we should attempt our best to exercise it, and most importantly, you’re human and losing patience is part of being one of God’s creation.
And this is a lesson for those who believe.
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Ahh, so it is true, “beware the fury of a patient man”.
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I have not heard this one yet.
Ah yes – the joys of Americans experiencing foreign lands. Reminds me of Pakistan. Glad you got your fridge.
Indeed. I’m glad I got it too! It’s working great. Lol
😊Mash’Allah. You brought a smile (or two) to my face this morning. That was a true test of sabr and I think you passed. Alhamdulillah. Can’t say how I would have reacted, but you did good. 👍🏽
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May God count us among those that are patient!