I need to renew my phone minutes. I have hardly used any, but they don’t roll over. It was time — I guessed — to renew.
So I went downtown to the Orange Express store in Downtown Gouna. A young man was there behind the desk. I explained what I wanted to do.
He said yes sure, so I gave him my phone number, and he typed it in his comp. 40 LE he said.
I pulled out the money to pay him, but then he said, no, I cannot give you credit.
I said, I don’t want any credits, I just want to pay next month’s phone bill.
Okay, he said.
So, can I pay now?
Yes, he said, but I cannot give you credits.
What does that even mean? I said. The young guy looked at me blankly, as if surprised I did not understand.
I might have cussed as I walked out of the store, and went directly to the Tourist Information bureau next door.
The lady there was very helpful.
She spoke perfect English and Arabic (mine is weak), and went to the Orange Express store with me.
She asked the guy what the scoop was, and only then did it turn out that the Orange billing system was down.
The helpful Tourist Information lady said this has been going on for several days. Many tourists have complained, she said.
I thanked her, left the store again, and went home wondering why the kid simply couldn’t bring himself to express the plain idea that the system was not working, instead of this rigmarole about credits.
Sometimes, here, the simplest things can become so complicated, even when one speaks a modicum of Arabic, as I do.
You just have to go with the flow.
After all, there a lot more important things going on in the region right now than this.
Sometimes, it pays to read the literature to get some perspective. Sometimes it pays to closely read NYT editorials and op-ed columns, including the comments.
Increasingly, this is beginning to feel like a pivotal moment in 21st Century world history. We will soon be approaching yet another summer of “deeply partisan rancor and calumny.”
I just hope my phone still works when it all starts to come down.