At that moment happened what I call it the “salvation of the emptiness” when I get to fly in my fantasy world suddenly without no introductions or reasons. Just I start to day dream, sometimes thinking of real events, memories other times I start from a place and carry on making on my own scenario and story and live it with all my heart and emotions, this time it was just a memory to what happened in Doha airport**, so when I rechecked my flight for the 10th time to make sure everything is going to be alright and nothing is going to be wrong. I saw a statement on the website of Qatar airways saying that if your connection flight is within more than 8 hours you are illegible for a limousine and a hostel stay all paid by Qatar airways, so when I landed in Doha, I was thinking I don’t want to take that as I am afraid to oversleep in the hostel, and I would love to use these hours in some writing, surfing internet for information, meeting some locals and meeting some interesting people. I thought I can actually go to the counter and ask to exchange my hostel with putting me in one of their VIP lounges with internet and ask about my meal. Walked to the counter and it was that zig zag formed line that you have to walk in a maze for a long while to reach the counter, it feels actually stupid to walk in one of those when there is no queue, what a waste of time and energy for a person who flew for a long time, and if you decided to jump over their robs people going to judge you stupid and strange and maybe authority would punish you for doing that, just for your rejection of walking into a zig zag while choosing to walk in a straight line, (no wonder it was a donkey who 1st discovered that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line)
Any way I reach the front desk after my unpleasant spiral journey through the zig zags
Me: hello sir.
Agent: “yes, how may I help you?” looking up from his computer screen.
ME: I just landed from Cairo. And I have 11 hours waiting till my next flight.
Agent : can I see your passport.
Me handing my passport: of course. Here you got sir!
Agent: sorry but you are not entitled to get the hotel for tonight as there a flight in the middle of the night before the one you booked going to Jakarta and you could have booked it so we cant give you that hotel.
At that point I realized two things, number one its just another scam from a corporate and number two he is one of least skilled customer services agents I ever dealt with, he did not even ask me what I was there for, and assumed that I am asking for a hotel add to that he was firmly rude to me. Which triggered the sarcastic annoying douche bag in me.
ME: Sir! If you look on your computer you would see that I booked that flight months ago. And at that time you didn’t have any flights in the middle. And it does not make any since that I see there is an earlier flight and choose to wait longer here in the airport. So its not my fault that you updated more frequent flights in between recently because it’s a busy time of the year and you needed more flights. When I booked my ticket that was the only flights available!
Agent: sorry sir, the rules are…
Me interrupting him: Rules are made for you, they apply on you, not me. Can I speak to your manager please?
Agent in a challenging tune : of course you can!
He went to the office behind him took him around 3 minutes to come back with that lady, her name tag showed she was Arab, mostly Moroccan, early 30s, didn’t seem enjoying what she is doing, and been doing it too long that it became boring, I think her name is Hassnah. At that moment I had to make my decision, to carry on using my reasonable argument and show her how stupid her colleague and system are. Or to feel sorry for a fellow customer service representative who has to wake up, dress up, Shave her facial hair, smell good, take all the sexual harassments from colleagues and customers, sit in a fancy office while her room back home is a mess, eat plastic healthy meals while her family back in Morocco are struggling to have 3 meals a day. Then I made my mind, my attitude will depend on hers. So let her start the game!
Hassnah in an annoyed tune: Yes! How can I help you?
ME: whats your job title? Are you a manager?
Hassnah: no I am a supervisor.
ME talking to the agent next to her: so you are laying to me? I asked for a manager not a supervisor!, anyway let me tell you my story maybe you can help me, I think your colleague explained my story to you, not to repeat myself and waste your time and mine.
Hassnah: yes he did and as he told you we can not provide you with that.
Me: 1st of all I didn’t come to you to ask for a hotel and a Lemo but for the sake of the argument, why can’t I get it, as I said that was the only available flight when I booked it.
Hassnah: well you should have called our customer services before your flight and they would have changed your booking so you don’t have to wait that long.
ME (I hate when customer services blame it on the customer and make him feel stupid and that its his fault so I decided to bluff to cornerize her, I haven’t actually called ): why you assume I haven’t called? I actually did.
Hassnah in a shock: have you?! And what did they say?
ME: they said everything is ok and all I need to do is to speak to the front desk in Doha airport which I am actually doing now, but can I ask you a question?
Me: Are you saying that everyone shall call the customer services before their flights?
ME: but on your website they are saying that I can book my flight, check in, choose my seat, and everything online! Are they lying?
Me: but you just told me that every one has to call, which means your web site is shit !!
ME: sorry, let me rephrase my self, are you saying we can not relay on your website only and we have to call
ME: ok can I get that on a paper that you are admitting that your website is unreliable, so I can sue you?!
Hassnah: sorry we cant give you that paper!
ME: ok can I speak to a real manager now?
Hassnah (standing up to get her manager): ok!
ME: oh before you go can you provide me with a skate board?
Hassnah: I don’t know maybe you can find it in the free duty shops.
ME: no no you provide me with it. So I can skate around this fancy airport for 11 hours till my next flight.
Hassnah (obviously did not get that im making fun of them) : but skating is not allowed around the airport.
At that point the line behind me started to laugh of the situation and she got red when she realized I was being sarcastic so I interrupted her again saying : ok just go get me the manager please.
At that time I realized a long line was formed behind me. So I stepped aside to give people space and waited for the manager. She was 35 years old, hot blond I bet she was from central Europe, Czech to be more specific, you could see that she got a strong personality, and better customer services skills. You could see that easily from her confidence walking towards me. Her name was Petra, said the name tag across her chest.
Petra: Hello Moustapha. With her hand asking to see my passport.
Me: finally a manager.
Petra laughing: “sorry I was busy a little in my office. Oh wow you are from Egypt? Tell me how are things there now? ” she said it with a worried caring face.
– in customer services best thing to do with an angry bird (this is how we call an angry customer) is to shift the anger by changing the subject, asking them and open ended question about something that concerns them. In order to get them to talk a lot, forget their issue and anger, in order to cool them down.
I cracked a smile knowing what game she is playing and gave her the last thing she want to hear, a short firm answer: things are fine.
Her face kind of changed and I could clearly see that she lost a bit of her balance trying to think of a 2nd question. When I winked with my eye in a sign of I know what are you doing, followed by a smile saying : well If you are really interested in knowing whats happening in Egypt? You can provide me with one of your VIP lounges, free meal, coffee and internet. And we can go sit there have a coffee and chat.
She smiled thought about it for a second then said : you know what, you will get it all. Follow me. We entered that fancy lounge, really luxurious. She made us a coffee and we sat for around 50 minutes talking about Egypt and politics and the situation there now, and Qatar and her job and so on.
this is a part of chapter one of my book “The Run” coming out by the end of the year