Okay, apparently I must look like I’m fresh off the boat or something…because yesterday when I went to a optometrist at one of the hospitals in the city (Eye specialist) for a fairly routine eye exam (unfortunately my eyes changed a lot in Saudi-and not for the better, ugh!) I had a rather interesting and I have to admit-a FIRST in my book-experience.
I had on my fairly normal attire (for me) of a sleeved chador-e melli over a turquoise scarf, purse and flats. Pretty average and good for the sun, heat and humidity…you know, comfort is essential.
So I go into the office…and sign in, no one is behind the counter when I do so, so I take a seat because its right after lunch time, I figured someone would be back shortly. After a few minutes one of the receptionists comes back and sits down, she looked a bit on the older side. So I walk up to the desk and before I could EVEN say *one word* she looks up, stands up and beckons to a seat and says really loudly “Please-take-a-seat-we-are-calling-a-TRANSLATOOORRRR-for-you” and I was sort of dumb founded and kind of lost my voice for a fraction of a second because I wasnt sure if she was-uh, pullin’ my leg or what, so after I regained my brain I said…’Excuse me?” and then she repeated it again-even louder! At this point other people were in the waiting room and I looked around like…who? Me????
Then I said…Uh, a translator for what? You mean me? why? I’m just here for my appointment…and then she says back to me (not a bright cookie, eh)…Oh, dont u need a translator? Cuz we are calling one for you!
Like um, OK…if I NEEDED a translator then how the heck could I say what I just said? huh?
So I am not entirely sure what I sai at that point, but I know I was getting really irked and probably let slip 1 or 2 not so nice words…ahem…so finally the woman-*understood* that I spoke English perfectly fine and wasn’t really a foreigner in need of a translator-LOL- and we proceeded with the check in.
BUT I really wanted to be snarky and ask…so, um, what language translator did u wanna call up? Since I didnt even say anything… and eegads…why the heck did she think I needed a translator? This is a major hospital in a huge city with many, many, many Muslims in the area…like wha? I’mma the first hejabi that ever walked through that place?
I’m still a bit in shock and awe over the whole thing.
I told my husband afterwards and he laughed and said, maybe they get a LOT of Saudis and Gulf Arabs up there for eye exams (unfortunately eye problems are RAMPANT in the Gulf due to sand and the intense sun and so hence, probably many of the students and their families when they come here for school do go to the eye center)
…so I guess…hypothetically I *could* see that maybe she saw the black overgarment and assumed I was fresh off the boat from the Gulf. Granted I dont look like a Gulf ‘Arab…but in theory…I dunno…yet still, I would hence have asked for an interpretor or brought a family member along…right…????