During a spontaneously arranged trip I had with my wife (Yes, I got married few weeks back) to Aqaba, I had an unfortunate incident at the Movenpick hotel while I was checking-out from it, the incident reminded me of how “third-world”* we can be right in the midst of our thinking rather than our surrounding.
A quick back rounder, this leg of the trip was never planned, my wife and I were roaming all over southern Jordan, as we reached rum and spent the day cruising over there, we decided that we were too tired to drive back to Wadi Mosa and headed down to Aqaba, at this point, we were looking a bit rusty & showered with sand.
We spent the night over at the hotel, showered and cleaned up, it was extremely busy, I think they were running at 99% occupancy.
Next day at the reception desk, I stood there waiting for my turn to check-out with my rusty looking beard, wearing army-like shirt and cargo pants and a wide tourist hat my wife grabbed from Petra, minus the sand and the sweaty smell.
A group of mothers and their kids were checking-in, it took the hotel personnel around 15 minutes to get them settled in, I was patiently waiting there, chit-chatting with my wife, going about my usual habit of eyeing people around, trying to figure out where are they from, what are they doing here & if there’s anything unusual about them.
Enter the apparently half-Jordanian-half English-guy (have he not spoken, I wouldn’t have figured out this about him), he stood at an uncomfortable distance between me and the desk I was waiting my turn at, with a bit of anxiousness as he seemed to wanted to check-out from the busy hotel like I did.
I did not mind the guy at start, he was not aggressive with his distance from the desk, but he seemed a bit shy of it, as if he knew he was about to do something that he’s not accustomed to, I didn’t make any pre-emptive moves like blocking his way or nicely asking him to step into the queue (comprised of myself behind the loud mothers & their annoyingly trespassing kids), under the assumption that the lad seems to be from somewhere were people tend to queue naturally at busy junctures.
The mothers and their kids left the check-in desk, the guy made his move & spoke in an i-speak-it-fluently-but-I-prefer-not-to heavy Arabic that he want to check out, the rude hotel attendant smiled in his face (one could argue because of his handsome Caucasian looks) and told him just a minute please. I turned to the guy and nicely told him in Arabic that he took my turn and that I was waiting behind the group.
The guy ignored me first time around as he waited for the attendant to return. So I repeated my request in English and he answered me without looking to me that he is “at a hurry and he have a large group”, now I had it… “listen ya Mr. Busy with a big group, I came here and lined myself in a queue, you better stand in the line too”.
The attendant came and started processing his check-out, I reiterated that I came there before him, and with a poker face she said “but it’s not a problem”, I told her “no it is a problem, this is disrespectful to me and she should respect the line in front of her”, upon my challenge she put aside his credit card and papers & started processing mine without even an apology.
I looked back at the guy and spoke to him in English, now I have his attention as it seems, and tried to understand why he acted in such a way, I wish I didn’t do that, I wish I stood there quietly, left him full of himself and his blunt feelings of superiority thinking of me and our country the way he did, for he answered me in a very arrogant manner:
“Listen, here in Jordan there are no queues, back in England people queue, but here they don’t, I did what everyone here is doing, utter chaos”
I swear by the one who raised the seven heavens with no pillars that I was infuriated to the point that I was going to grab him by the head and smack his forehead against the wall for the offensive gibberish he uttered.
“No my friend" i replied "people do queue over here, I’m queuing as I speak, you on the other hand, choose to ignore the queue & jump it while feeling comfortable of being uncivilized because you are not in England”…
He apologetically tried to explain his position but to no avail, I kept reiterating that he jumped the queue and that there was no excuse for that and not to mention how insulting it was to blame it on “being in Jordan”…
I left the scene feeling victorious but with a bit of disgust, first because of the blunt reception attendant who unprofessionally attended the good looking Euro guy who just skipped the line and passed on the rusty-looking “sheikh” thinking to herself that it’s “not a problem”.
Second because of the mentality of the guy who seemed to be from a well-educated & well-off background that should have salvaged him from being at fault of circumstantial uncivilized misconduct.
* I typically do not entertain such imposed terminology, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a better descriptive word that captures the meaning deceivingly embedded in such terms.