[My] friend Khaled took me to collect his pay for an on-campus job. …Beware of anything governmental or non-private sector in the Arab world; I recall a time in Egypt when I spent two hours in the post office trying to send a package to the United States. In one particular room, there were about 6 desks arranged in a circle. I had to bring my package to each desk, waiting patiently for the coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking employee at each station to finish his or her cellphone conversation, after which I would acquire the necessary signature and move onto the next station. It’s a recipe for exasperation.In Khaled’s case here in Syria, he could almost get a second job and double his money in the time he spends drinking tea with the bureaucrats while awaiting a paycheck. Is this the difference between civilization and barbarism, this seemingly widespread bureaucratic inability to operate at greater than 50% functionality? Either that, or it’s the difference between Western toilets and squat toilets, the latter of which are prevalent here.
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