Monday, January 9, 2012

A Temperature Retaining Fridge - April 2008

It must be something about me… that asks for, and attracts such incredulous situations at times… I’ve reached the end of my rope… But let me start from the beginning.

My second cousin invited us to her daughter’s Katb Ketab on Easter day in her house in Sahel, so we decided to spend Sunday night in Alex and then go to the family gathering on Monday. Unfortunately all the hotels were fully booked, but by a stroke of luck we found a suite for our family in a hotel near Montaza. I clearly remember asking the lady about the bathrooms and I’m almost sure she said there were 2 bathrooms, which suited us perfectly because we’re a family of 5. We checked in, the room was very nice and overlooked the sea and all was great… but… there was only one bathroom. I wasn’t too happy but I thought I probably misheard her and we proceeded to take turns and arranged ourselves accordingly. We went out for dinner and on our way back passed by good old Saber and picked up some of his notorious rice pudding and mistika ice cream… It took us almost 2 hours to get back to the hotel because the Corniche traffic was horrible, and in comparison, our Cairo traffic jams were a breeze. But to be honest, it was Cairenes who were crowding the beautiful Alex... I made a mental note not to venture into Alex on a public holiday again… But we still take this in our stride and try to make the best out of the weekend… Hussein goes out on a quick errand while the rest of us enter the room. I open the mini fridge to place the rice pudding and the now liquid ice cream, only to discover that the fridge wasn’t working! I call the reception and inform them of the situation and the receptionist immediately sends us the maintenance “expert”… Enter two guys: an important looking one, and a second not so important looking. The important one is obviously the expert and is holding a piece of wire and a screwdriver in his hand… The less important one had nothing but himself and was obviously coming along as a show of numbers… My intuition alarm goes off at full volume… I can smell trouble in the horizon…

The expert opens the fridge… the internal light goes on, he turns around and tells me: “There’s nothing wrong with the fridge; it’s working”… With great self restraint I recommend that he touches the inside of the fridge to verify that it’s not cool and therefore the fridge WASN’T working… and was actually rather warm… The expert then blurts out this incredulous piece of information: “Madam, the mini bar is not supposed to cool… it’s supposed to retain the temperature…”
يا مدام ما هو الميني بار حافظ للحرارة ومش مفروض يبرد

I can hardly believe my ears… “What do you mean by retaining the temperature?”… The expert then proceeds to tell me that this is a “special” fridge which operates with gas and only retains the temperature and doesn’t act as a cooler…
أصل حضرتك الميني بار هنا في الأوتيل حافظ للحرارة وشغال بغاز النشادر وهو كدة بيحفظ الحرارة مش بيسقع الحاجة

I try not to box his ears… “What do you take me for? What gas? Do not repeat this nonsense again to other residents! And do not insult my intelligence… This is NOT a fridge this is a namleya (kitchen cupboard)! And even if what you say is true and it's supposed to retain the temperature, then if I place a cold drink inside it’s supposed to keep it cold, right? And to do that, the internal temperature should be at least 5 to 10 degrees.”
ما تقولش الكلام دة لحد تاني وإلا يضحك عليك، إنت فاكرني إيه؟ دي مش ثلاجة دي نملية! ويعني إيه حافظ للحرارة؟ وحتى لو افترضنا اللي بتقوله دة... أنا دلوقتي لو حطيت حاجة ساقعة جوة الميني بار لو هو حافظ للحرارة يبقى لازم يخليها لي ساقعة وبالتالي لازم درجة الحرارة تكون 5 أو 10 درجات جوة الثلاجة... 

This physics refresher course doesn’t register at all with the expert, who though polite, was relentless and wouldn’t budge: “This is a “special” fridge that is supposed to retain temperature and is in working condition.” I decide this is a hopeless discussion so I shoe him and his assistant out of the room and tell him that I’ll speak to the reception.

I call the reception one more time… The receptionist is very polite and tells me he’ll get back to me in 10 minutes… I say “No, you’ll get back to me in 2 minutes, because it’s very late and we don’t have time for this…” He does… He calls me back and says that he checked with the hotel G.M. (Ah WAllahi) and the latter CONFIRMED the maintenance expert’s story about حافظ الحرارة …

That’s it! I blow my head off… “What do you mean temperature retainer? The internal temperature in this namleya is 35 to 40 degrees so how can you expect it to retain any cool temperature? This thing is NOT working and don’t you ever repeat that silly story again or you’ll lose your credibility… And as far as I’m concerned you’re not a four-star hotel, in my books you’re only one-star or one-and-a-half-star hotel at the most!” The receptionist leaves everything I said and only responds to this micro piece of info: “35 or 40 degrees? It’s not possible that the internal temperature is that high”… I’m at a loss of words and hardly know what to tell him… “OK, you’re not happy with 35 degrees? Fine, forget that… Let’s take it one step at a time: in order to RETAIN temperature of cold drinks the mini fridge should be 5 or 10 degrees, and this one is not. Cool stuff will actually lose temperature and become warm and therefore it’s not even retaining temperature… OK? So go and find us another fridge… NOW…”

The guy is again very polite… “I’m sorry but we’re over-booked and I don’t think I’ll find another fridge.” “I don’t care,” I say, “We paid you well and we expect to get a service in return”… I inwardly regret that we paid the full hotel fee when we checked in; I make another mental note not to repeat this in the future! The receptionist is quiet for a second and says: “Alright, I’ll see if another room is not using their mini fridge and try to get it for you”… Normally I would’ve objected to this, but I was so upset that I didn’t even bother to answer him… I was positive that we’ll end up having our ice cream with a straw not a spoon! Five minutes later the expert returns with ANOTHER mini fridge! I’m pleasantly surprised but I don’t comment until they replace our namleya, turn the new one on and ensure that indeed it’s working! NOW I comment… I ask the expert: “What do you say now that the new one you got is actually cooling, and therefore WORKING?” The expert sticks to his story and repeats the exact, same, words as if he’s programmed: “There are 2 kinds of fridges in the hotel, the cooling type and the temperature-retaining type…” I interrupt him… “Don’t… Just don’t continue… This is the ONLY type there is… The type that COOLS… That’s the way it’s supposed to be… Now off you go (another ghour min wishi es-sa3a di غور من وشي الساعة دي) and don’t repeat this ridiculous story to anyone else, ever again!” I consciously DON’T tip him because if there’s anything I hate most it’s when people lie to me and try to take me for a ride.

My question is this: why, why, why… Why should this be allowed to happen in a respectable hotel? Why should Egyptians be taken for a ride and literally be sold the tramway? And more importantly why do such ridiculous incidents happen to me?… Food for thought… Cool food for though, not the temperature-retained type!

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