- Arrive at office. Take number in manner of Asda butchers and get ready to wait.
- Find seat. Not easy.
- Realise that my number is 2280, and they're only on 2255. Go figure.
- Feel smug. I have a book! I have a magazine! I can keep occupied! No problem!
- Start getting fidgety. What's taking so long?
- Finish magazine. Attempt to watch news on tv. It's in Arabic.
- Make a start on the book. Can't concentrate due to overwhelming smell of BO coming from the man sat next to me.
- A drama: girl enters who doesn't understand the number/queueing system. She walks straight to a counter. Collective intake of breath from the crowd as she does so. She's turned away and has to get a ticket like the rest of. Crowd feels slightly triumphant.
- Pretend to read book whilst eavesdropping on conversations around me.
- Realise I am sat next to a client! High point of the 90 minutes as we have a quick catch up.
- Get introduced to client's family.
- Conversation dies as neither of us wants to commit to a long chat as we have eyes and ears on high alert waiting for our numbers to be called.
- Check through texts.
- Check through handbag. Contents remain the same as they were when I checked five minutes ago.
- Examine pedicure. Has lasted over two weeks.
- Check for facial hair. Realise eyebrows are taking over my face.
- MY NUMBER IS CALLED!!!!
- Scamper over to counter and present documents to surly man behind desk.
- he informs me that I need two extra documents. My landlord's passport copy and a copy of the sales agreement of the apartment. Why, I have no idea.
- I explain that no one told me this when i called, and it doesn't state it anywhere on the website.
- We have a face off.
- I sigh, a lot.
- Man behind counter leaves counter to check upstairs with colleague.
- Five minutes pass. The crowd glares at me for taking so long.
- Check through texts.
Check through handbag. Contents remain the same as they were when I checked five minutes ago.
Examine pedicure. Has lasted over two weeks.
Check for facial hair. Realise eyebrows are taking over my face.
- MAN RETURNS.
- Says sorry, he needs those documents.
- I morph into Hollywood actress.
- I do not have documents. Landlord on holiday (not a lie, I'm sure he has been on holiday at some point in the past). I cannot get documents. How can I survive heat with no AC. No water. Please can he help me.
- Another face off.
- I clutch chest, face (being careful to avoid eyebrows) and, I'm not ashamed to say, resort to a trick which I have been assured works, but have never used in Dubai. I've saved it for a whole year for a situation such as this.
- I well up.
- This has desired effect. Water and electricity connected immediately. Documents can be emailed.
- I rise, triumphant from the counter.
- Client gives me a thumbs up. Hell, never mind thumbs, I should be getting an Oscar for that performance.
- Feminist movement call me to say thanks for setting them back 50 years. I should feel ashamed, but don't.
Add up all the time of all the people in the office that day and the figure would be staggering, I'm sure. And that was just one office. But hey, why worry about wasting time?