Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A question of Patience

Today I finally got a few new things I was waiting on. Some very high thread count crisp summer sheets and some very fresh spring flowers. Both were very high on my priorities list. I also finished watching the latest episode of Top Chef, but that just pissed me off. I am an aspiring chef and it pains me to see how good some people are and how crappy I am by comparison. I wish I had attended culinary school instead of flight school when I was younger. Although I am passionate about both, I think I am more passionate about fine dining. I do not eat much food. Anyone who knows me has surely at one point kidded with me about never finishing my plate. I am finicky about what I eat, and sadly most restaurants produce food not worth eating. Any chain restaurant sucks; TGIF, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Texas Road House etc… They all suck. The only really good food is at places like Del Friscos and Ruth’s Chris, and even those can suck from time to time. What I appreciate about truly fine dining are the small portions and the multiple courses. I want a few bites of something that makes me want to return time and time again to try something new and different. I think the only food I could never get enough of is this soup from the street vendors in Bangkok. They make a clear soup that makes up for in flavor what it lacks in color. The ambiance of a stinking Bangkok street, with the vendors and the tourists, and the occasional passing baby elephant cannot be duplicated in the world. Well the top chefs manage to create in a single bite, memories of places you have only imagined. I only wish I were that good.

What the hell does that have to do with patience? That is just rambling, yes, I know. Yesterday I was expecting the arrival of 12 trucks containing the framing structure for a pre-manufactured steel building. Demurrages of 80$ a day per 12 containers began over a month ago. The trucks were delayed on the Pakistani border for over a week. There was a lot riding on the timely delivery of that steel and the rapid unloading of the containers. Well yesterday the steel finally arrived at the project site. I remember getting that news at around 0830 in the morning. I ticked it off of my list to do for the day. At around 0930 I decided to go visit the site. I had envisioned myself taking pictures of cranes busily unloading containers and steel being stacked and workers scuttling around to get this stuff unloaded. The problem with that vision is that I am an American. I think American thoughts and sometimes I wrongly project the same American work ethic to non-Americans. So when I arrived at the job site at about 1000, I was horrified to see about 30 Pakistanis sitting along the side of the road, trucks and cranes idle. (The truck drivers were Pakistani, delivering the containers of steel from Karachi). So I went on in and spoke with the Project Manager who informed me that the drivers needed some more money. Well it is not my company’s job to pay for the truckers. We subcontracted that job to another company who subcontracted the job to a company who further subcontracted that task to these guys. Well these sub-sub-sub-contractors were wanting to be paid an additional 100$ per truck for an additional 2 miles they had to drive from the Kabul Customs to the job site. My first reaction was to reach for my wallet to be honest. You need 1200 bucks to complete the job, fine, take it. But then I thought of all the headaches involved in replenishing those 1200 bucks. So I decided to negotiate, long story short it ended in me telling them all to piss off and I got in my car and left.

Well these guys didn’t seem too bothered. They got back in their trucks and sat there for another 5 hours until some other guy I don’t know showed up and made them drive the trucks. As an aside, I tried ordering the Afghan Army to force them at gunpoint to drive the trucks, but unfortunately for me, I wasn’t their boss and they wouldn’t do it. I even asked to borrow an AK so that I could force them at gunpoint to drive the trucks, but they wouldn’t give me an AK. Bastards. I was even going to piss all over their trucks, but unfortunately for me, I didn’t have to pee. Well anyway they eventually came to some agreement and the trucks have since been unloaded.

This afternoon I watched a guy stand in the same position for over an hour. I am not sure what he was doing. He wasn’t spying on us or I would have noticed. He wasn’t waiting on a bus or a Taxi because many passed. He apparently just didn’t have any damn other thing to do, so he just stood there. For about 2 hours. And during that time he did not move more than 1 foot and he did not uncross his arms (that I saw). I regularly see people sit in the same chair for hours on end. I also see people squat for what seems like a lifetime, and hardly move. I can’t figure it out.

I guess my whole point is that basically we Americans have no patience. Just today I was frustrated at how slow the microwave was heating up my food. I even said something out loud to the effect of “POS microwave, we need a faster one”. These guys are lucky to have electricity and I am bitching about 1 vs 2 minutes in the microwave. I guess the good thing is that this is not the first time I have noticed this. I can guess my subordinates are appreciative of the fact that I don’t act as impatiently as I feel. I have to make a concerted effort to not be impatient. I think that is the difference, for me I have to consciously work at it, but it comes naturally to them.

So as I sit here thinking about this post and whatnot, and I am enjoying the nice fragrance from my fresh bouquet of flowers, it really gives me time to appreciate what I have and what others do not. And while I contemplate how nice it would have been to go back to my room tonight and lay on my fresh crisp summer sheets, the fact that although I handed the guy the new box of sheets and told him to put them on the bed, that all he did was place the box of sheets on my pillow just doesn’t really bother me that much. I was hoping to be able to sleep on my fresh crisp sheets, but I can’t, and I don’t really care.


My Flowers: Paid 10 bucks for these.


Blogger Rex Zeitgeist said...

Patience is a virtue, of that there is no doubt.

I have learned that it is in short supply in the modern world.....

What would be considered short term may be considered the last my job if I don't perfom to a set dollar amount within a specified amount of time, I will be fired....period...bottom line....There is no whining or crying, I am gone....

Of course, I will still continue to live and may find a better job, but time is short...

And patience shorter....

Friday, April 18, 2008 at 5:58:00 AM GMT+3  

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