Last night I was enjoying a nice meal here in Al Ain. I was finished eating and sort of picking at my plate. I noticed something moving on the plate, and figuring my eyes were deceiving me, I stared intently. Sure enough, a little sugar ant came crawling out from under the Arabic bread. Hmm…what to do? I opted to tell the waiter, just so they would know. My thought being, perhaps I can prevent this from happening to someone else. I informed the waiter, explaining that I was fine, but just wanted them to know, to try and prevent it from happening again.
They removed my plate, and I figured that was the end of it. A few minutes later a man in a suit (manager?) came up and told me that he was, “sorry that I thought I saw an ant on my plate, but they searched the plate and didn’t find anything”. He continued, “perhaps it was just a garnish that you mistook for an ant”. Really?!?!? Do your garnishes have six legs? I think not. I did respond that while I’m positive it was an ant (my dining companions also confirmed) I am not upset, I just wanted to let them know.
It occurred to me during this incident that the customer service in this country is so often over-the-top, that a situation like this can bring you crashing back to reality. In a country where there are specific check out lanes, waiting rooms, and service counters just for “Ladies”, there are also businesses who do not think the customer is always right. We did get a 25% discount off our meal and vouchers for our next meal…though I doubt I’ll be using that voucher anytime soon.
Another strange customer service thing in the UAE is buying fresh produce. I’m not sure if this is just a UAE thing, but I’ve never experienced it before. When you are finished picking out your produce, you have to take it to a special counter in the produce section. Here they will weigh your items and print out a sticker with the total cost of the item. The sticker is attached to a plastic bag. I am always praying that the sticker will stay on the bag, because if you lose it between the produce department and the main check out, you’ve got to go back and do it all over again. And while most departments are over-staffed, the produce department never seems to have enough staff to weigh your purchases.