neurotic Iraqi wife
February 23, 2008
The Great Hollow Iraqi Dream...
After 90 minutes of being in the office, A comes upto me and asks me to help him out. A is a man in his early fifties with 6 children. Yup SIX!!! He is one of the nicest men I’ve ever met here. Just looking at his smiley face makes you forget all about work’s stress. A finally got his US Immigration Visa and will be travelling very soon. But he decided to go alone without his huge family just to test the waters and arrange everything for them beforehand. Unfortunately A booked his flights during a very sensitive time. There is a big chance of a curfew in the next few days due to the “Arba3een” ceremony. A curfew means no cars, no planes, NO MOVEMENT PERIOD. So A asked me to help him out with rearranging his tickets.
A coworker of mine bought A’s tickets for him from Expedia. The tickets have very strict rules, any changes to it will incur about $105 penalty fees, and A is not really ready to pay that amount for something outside his control. And so my morning began with a few phonecalls to the States. First up was Expedia. I call them, and after listening to a machine, and talking to a machine for about a few minutes, I get through to Isabella; tell her the story which goes like this: Hi Im calling on behalf of so and so, his Itinerary no is so and so and I have a few questions for you. Mr A is travelling from Baghdad to Amman to catch his US flight. He needs to know if its ok to waiver the penalty charges on his ticket incase he is forced to reschedule flights due to a curfew in Baghdad. Its outside his control so I don’t think he should pay for it.
Isabella listened to my concerns and then said, Umm sorry Ma’am, we at Expedia cannot help you. (Now mind you, I did say I have become more patient with people, but I guess today was not one of those days). My voice kinda got abit loud and I said what do you mean you CANT HELP? YOU HAVE to help, the tickets were bought from you!!! Maam, Im sorry, but you need to call US Airways instead. She was nice enough to give me the number though.
Did I ever mention that I LOATHE talking to machines??? I must have repeated myself a couple of times before I was transferred to a real human on the other side of the phone. Ofcourse, after holding for about 7 mins, then relaying the same story to the guy, he simply said, Sorry Maam, this is the wrong department, you need to call this other number. BY then, my anger level was kinda getting into the groove. I banged the phone really hard, not that its gonna make a difference but I was mad, and dialed the “other” number he gave me.
I had to go through the same BS with talking to a machine then explaining to the guy A’s situation for the umpteenth time. Kent or Ken or whatever that guy’s name was that I was talking to then asked me very coldly “Im not sure I understand you, what is a curfew?” As much as I was trying to keep Ms Attitude hidden, as much as she came out with a vengeance. I couldnt believe the fact he didnt know what a curfew meant!!! I blasted the poor guy and said “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A CURFEW IS??? Its when people, especially here in Iraq, get locked up in their homes and no movement is allowed whether by air, by land or by sea. They’re simply stuck. THAT’S WHAT A CURFEW IS” I spat out. There was silence, then I was told to hold for a few minutes.
Ofcourse during all this time, A is standing right next to me. And when I lost my temper, he started patting me on the shoulder. Poor guy, I felt bad. In all cases, Kent or Ken, got back to me and said that its ok, they wont penalize for the change, but there may be a difference in the ticket rate that may have to be paid. I said that’s fine. Then I had to go through the same process with Delta. Delta’s call was far more enjoyable, the guy at the other end started practicing his Arabic with me once he knew where I was calling from, which kinda pushed ms Attitude back inside. And needless to say, they too waivered the penalty charge incase A changes his reservations. Now where else would you get such kinda service?
Anyhow here is an interesting article I just read on yahoo about some of the Iraqis that left on that special US Immigration Visa. I also heard that some of my ex-coworkers who left here a few months ago are actually looking into coming back as interpreters with the Army. I think it’s a great pity for amazingly educated guys who spent so much time and effort inorder to get their engineering degrees to end up as translators (And I dont mean any disrespect to the amazing nationalistic Iraqi translators, but translation is a specialist subject, so is engineering etc..There is a saying in Iraqi, give the bread to its baker). But what can you do, when doors keep shutting in your face, and money runs out??? The need is far greater than the desire. Far greater than the Dream. The Great Hollow Iraqi Dream…
Update: M just came by and told me that the NVC(National Visa Center) in the US has sent emails to everyone who were awaiting for a visa interview, that the quota for this year has been met and no more interview dates will be issued!!!The Iraqis at work who have been waiting eagerly for that date that would change their life are now mourning the death of their dream, The really great Hollow Iraqi Dream...