Workout in the gym done, lunch eaten, 2 pm and get down to writing. My concentration got interrupted by the phone. Rolling my eyes with displeasure I run to the bedroom to pick up.
Security: Good afternoon Mr. Daniel, I’m calling from security. Can maintenance enter the apartment to clean air-conditioning?
Me: Okay, they can. – I condescendingly agree, still slightly indignant that somebody is bothering me.
Since my flat mate wasn’t here the presence of security guy was needed as well. To make sure that nobody wouldn’t steal anything.
A bored security guard sat at a table in the living room and stared at the phone, scrolling probably Facebook. After proposing something to drink, I started custom chat in very original way, having in mind that we live in the city inhabited by all the nations of the world, I asked:
Me: Where are you from?
Security guy: From Cameroon.
Me: so West Africa, nice – I said trying to say anything about the place where he comes from.
Security guy: And you?
Me: I’m from Poland.
I directed him to one of the maps adorning the living room, presenting Poland. And as usual I began to talk about my beloved homeland: Here is Warsaw where I come from, here Toruń – birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus, you know, the one who discovered that the Earth circles around the sun and not vice versa. Here in the south are beautiful mountains and in the north the wide sandy beaches of the charming Baltic Sea (I didn’t mention about freezing water).
In the meantime I redirected the conversation on working conditions of security staff, which I pass every day on the way to and from the apartment.
Me: so when you have days off?
Security guy: I don’t know. I work two months without a single day off.
Me: seriously ?! TWO months?! Thus you have a system that, after two months is an one month off?
Security guy: No. A few people left and lately it’s impossible to take even a day off. If there’s lack of somebody there’s need to find a replacement.
Me: And where do you live?
Security guy: In this complex on the outskirts of Dubai, where most of contractors lives.
Me: How many flat mates do you have?
Security guy: seven.
I was shocked, but I tried not to show it.
Security guy: all sleep in the same room, but basically at the same time is four of us because the other four is on the night shift.
Me: And what you usually cook, some dish from your country worth recommending? ¬- I tried to gently steer the conversation at some other subject.
Security guy: We don’t have a kitchen. Cooking is prohibited. If we want we can get meals from company. If we decide to have them, the company deducts the cost of the meal from our salary. I’m not really a fan of that food, but I don’t have too much energy and time after whole day at work to go out and buy on my own. You know, the next day at 6.30 am already is picking us bus to work.
Me: And may I ask how much do you earn?
Security guy: In a day of work (or 12 hours), we get about 73 AED (approx. 20 USD) at the most we can earn a month a little more than 2,200 AED (approx. 600 USD).
Two months without a single day off. Eight people occupying one bedroom. 1.6 dollar per hour. Lack of power and time to look for another job not to mention other activities/pleasures.
It gives food for thought… Of course I’m aware of the fact that if he works here, it means that this is still better than in his home country. That it’s impossible to 7 billion people living on Earth live in prosperity. However, this brief conversation reminds me what I have and how lucky I was where I was born…