Friday, June 27, 2008
It's Not Just Sandwiches
My Scottish partner mistakenly left his sandwich and a bottled Starbucks iced-coffee in the car after returning from a task this afternoon. He went back a few minutes later to look for it and it was gone, obviously taken from the car by our Arab security drivers who are tasked with cleaning out the vehicles. Upon questioning the two drivers he got a resounding, “We haven’t seen your lunch nor the coffee”. A lecture ensued about the importance for westerners to be able to get the truth when asking questions. This certainly isn't the first time the drivers heard this.
Soon after, one of the drivers showed up with the missing the lunch and coffee stating that he found them in the Driver’s Room. “Dun’no how they it got there.”
The “take away” here is that two 40+ year old men have to play this little kindergarten game about telling the truth while at the same time saving face. My friend, who’s been kicking around the Arab world for years, is telling me that this happens on all levels, not just with sandwiches. Iran’s Ahmadinejad (technically not Arab) is doing it right now with the IAEA, Saddam Hussein did it with the United Nations, Hamas did it with Jimmy Carter. Lying to save face is endemic within the Arab culture. I realize that sounds terribly racist, but it's true and Arabs will be the first to tell you so. For my part, sadly I have to question everything that I’m being told by the guys whose hands I often have to put my life into. It makes for some very frustrating moments.