Yesterday in my office around 3:00pm. Business meeting with a representative of a prospective client. Said representative coincidentally comes from my country of citizenship.
Having established which part of Morocco both of us are from, which areas/families we know or do not, how terrible everything is in Morocco but how homesick we are etc....I politely steer the conversation back to the issue at hand.
Things get a bit difficult. My manager asked me for a technical evaluation of this client's request i.e. he wants a report on whether or not I think we have the technical resources & people to take it on in the time frame suggested. And it wasn't looking good. The guy was clearly not pleased. And I knew my manager was not going to be pleased either. I don't know why he asks us to do this sort of thing. He's the manager. He should make this type of decision. Instead he makes us conduct these interviews & write reports which he never accepts without a struggle if they happen to be negative & without making you feel he thinks you're only saying no because you don't want to do the work. And of course if you say yes you will be pleasing him & upper management in the short term by bringing in more business but at the same time you have to take responsibility if things don't go according to plan later which you KNOW they won't. He calls it developing our management skills. I call it setting us up. Besides what is all this developing our management skills stuff? Does he want to convince me that he's preparing us to take over his job? Yeah right.
Anyway I digress. So there I was doing my best to negotiate something workable with the client when he sits back, loosens his tie & asks if he can smoke. I say fine & that I think I will have one too. He offers me one & I refuse because I smoke a different brand. I take out my pack & search for my lighter. No lighter. I look up & he's offering me a light. I take it & say thanks. We get back to business. About an hour later I'm feeling the need for another one & I take it out before I remember that I have no lighter with me. Am obviously embarrassed by having to making him offer me a light again. With a 50-megawatt smile he excuses himself, opens his briefcase, takes out an obviously new lighter & hands it to me saying please keep it. I say thank you. Then he adds I just didn't want to give you this one(the one he is using) because it's used.
He just had to blow it didn't he? Up until that point I was thinking what a nice guy. But after that I thought he was so full of it. He didn't want to give me his lighter because it was obviously Cartier & very expensive. So he gave me the cheap Bic lighter. Which is perfectly fine. I mean I can afford to keep myself in lighters & he didn't have to give me anything at all. He chose to offer & I accepted only because I knew the cost was minimal. And I said thanks. He should have said you're welcome & left it at that. Why does he have to ruin it by lying to me & treating me like an imbecile? Is this his idea of a charm offensive? Did he think that this is actually going to make me give him a good evaluation or something?
This morning at 7:30am, meeting with a prospective vendor & several colleagues at the conference room. Said vendor gives a 20-min presentation on the product he thinks we should buy. Presentation concluded. We start asking questions. He answers one of mine. I'm still sceptical. So I ask him a follow-up question.
Him: Laish ya ba3adhum? Mithil ma kint agoolich....(Why? As I was saying....)
Except he called me 'ya ba3adhum'. That's an endearment used by GCC Arabs to mean basically 'dearest of all'. I kept my face impassive, didn't smile & didn't thank him for the explanation. He must have received some negative vibes because he came up to me after the meeting & apologized saying that he didn't mean anything, I was like a sister to him. In the course of this apology he called me 'Yalghaliya' which means 'precious one' twice. All in the spirit of brotherly love I suppose.
I'm thinking ya ba3adhum? Yalghaliya? You think am going to let you call me that? I mean I have a husband & he doesn't call me ya ba3adhum! You think am going to let YOU do it? Then I got even more worked up. Why doesn't my husband call me ya ba3adhum? Briefly considered calling said husband & telling him 'ya3ni elghareeb yiqool ya ba3adhum winta la?' or 'a perfect stranger calls me his dearest & his precious & you don't?'. But then I thought better of it. I had a feeling he might not see the funny side, that he might call me something other than ya ba3adhum & that I might not like it.
Seriously though what a pain. I'm not this guy's dearest or his precious or his sister. We just met. It's just business. I find it irritating when people suck up to you like that. Can't decide if it's sexism (she's a female so sweettalk her & she'll agree to anything) or just an abundance of social hypocrisy & nauseating, cooing sweetness that is entirely inappropriate in the workplace.