I am in the mood to tell a story. Are you in the mood for a story? Good, I thought as much. Bear with me, it’s a little longer than usual.
During my time in Cairo, there were some stories that were just too explosive to blog. It is well know that Egypt takes a particularly tough stance against anyone sassy enough to critisize either Islam, the government or Mr Mubarak himself. Bloggers that do cross the line, can be found hanging out in gaols that make Midnight Express look like a Disney film. And so it is that I choose to stay away from controversy and play in the meadow, with butterflies and bunnies.
Until I experienced an extreme dose of ‘lack of internet access’ rage caused by We-Take-Your-Money & Sons (Cairo Division). Bloggers will have full sympathy with me when I say that writing a blog post only to lose the whole thing seconds after completion due to an unstable connection, can cause major stress. This happened to me for six days, each day worse than the next. Each day I would phone up the Customer Non-Service Centre of We-Take-Your-Money & Sons. Each day I would report that my internet had become erratic, I think it is the modem, and would they please fix it. Each day they would say, “Thank you for calling, but the problem lies with Tellicom Egypt, we will report it, they will call you back to check the line”. And call me they did. It went something like this:
“Hello, Lulu speaking”.
“Alo, Alo….”. (slightly disembodied voice on crackly telephone line)
“You phone work now?” (voice is pleased with itself for constructing sentence)
“Well yes, it is working, but the internet comes and goes constantly and it is driving me nuts!”
“aagrrhrump”. (sound of voice trying to work out what the hell Lulu just said)
“So, is work now? (voice is hopeful)
“Yes, but it could turn off again any minute”, desperation is creeping in as Lulu realises her chance to have this repaired is slipping through her fingers.
“Good, so work, thank you, goodbye”. (dial tone)
The gutteral scream that slipped out of Lulu’s mouth after the 5th day of this conversation, could be heard in Israel.
On day 6, I begged. Yes, I am not ashamed to admit it. I begged for help. “Please, please, help me to fix my internet connection!”. And it worked. The man at the Customer Non-Service Centre took pity on me, and said “Ok, I will send someone to take a look at it for you, they will be there in 20 minutes”. Huh? Just like that? And 20 minutes later the doorbell rang.
Two likely looking characters, poked about for a minute or two and then said “Well it is clear, you need a new modem, it will be sent to you in two to three weeks.” I felt gutted, I turned to show them to the door, and saw Mr Dear Husband coming down the stairs. Before I knew it, huge, hot, salty tears spilled down my cheeks. “What is wrong?”, said an anxious Mr Dear Husband, scanning between his sobbing wife and the two Egyptian versions of Dumb and Dumber. “Whaaaaaaa, sob, sniff, sniff, sob……they said, sniff, sob….3 weeks… sob…….” He got the message. And it is what happened next that could not be told while we were still in the country.
Now for all intents and purposes, Mr Dear Husband is a mild mannered, and gentle sort. It is only when he slips into his Mr Super Dear Husband tights with underpants on top, that he can be a little intimidating. He is, after all, a German.
“You two, sit down.” And they did.
“Get on the phone and call your office, I want to speak to your boss.” And they did.
What ensued was a 45 minute hostage situation.
Within minutes, Mr Dear Husband had worked his way from the Call Centre to the Ceo, “We live in Cairo, your office is 5 minutes drive from my house, in Cairo I can have ANYTHING I want delivered within 20 minutes (traffic withstanding)…and my wife wants a modem NOW!” Cairo is a fabulous city to live if you are agoraphobic.
“Ok, we will send someone with the new modem, he will be there in 20 minutes, could you please release our technicians, they have other work to do.”
“No, they can stay here until the modem arrives.”
During all this, I was hiding in the kitchen with Busy Brenda, saying naughty things like …. “Well, nobody takes prisoners like the Germans!”… and my sobbing had turned to rib-breaking, shaking, contained laughter.
“Please sir, can we go downstairs to smoke?” asked, the now more than bewildered, dynamic duo.
“No, you can smoke on the balcony”, opens the door, and I am sure I heard him muttering under his breath words like escape plan…etc etc
“Please sir, can we have some water?”
“Yes, you can have some water…but nothing to eat!”
At this point I am starting to worry that Mr Dear Super Husband is taking this role a little too serious.
Twenty minutes later, I had a new modem, a stable internet connection, two very relieved We-Take-Your-Money & Sons employees, and a Mr Dear Husband that, I do believe, was strutting…if only a little.
** If you are curious…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgAi7DYHA94