Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Emergency Service in Kuwait

I had an emergency. Now YOU may not consider it an emergency, but I have a piece of equipment, and I have a major project and a deadline, and to meet that deadline, I need that piece of equipment. And, of course, that piece of equipment began to fail me.

Not to worry. I had heard of a place in Kuwait that could fix my machine. I had that pit in the stomach feeling, like “why didn’t I do some homework and find this place before my machine needed fixing. . . ” Do you ever say things like that to yourself?

And of course, because I was desperate, when I would go into stores and ask if they knew where this place was, I was told, over and over, there was no such place.

Until one brave young Pakistani guy contradicted his employer and told me where he thought the place might be. Because of one way streets, and a convoluted traffic pattern, it took me several more passes before I spotted the place – which fortunately had one very small sign in English, as I can’t read Arabic very quickly, I still have to sound out all the letters until it sounds like a word I know. Like I am really good at “sharia” being street, but not very good at things I don’t see all the time.

And, by the grace of God, not only do I see the store, but there is – and this is truly a miracle – a decent parking spot fairly close to the shop. Thanks be to God.

I went into the shop, and there is another woman there, with her machine. I tell the man behind the counter that I have a small emergency. He doesn’t understand me, but he understands my tone, and sends a man to help bring in my machine.

It’s like the stand-off at the OK Corral. She looks at my machine, evaluating whether her’s is better, or mine. Seconds tick by, and she smiles, and the crisis is averted. She tells the man she will be back for her machine, which he sets aside to take a look at mine.

My machine is one of those simple machines, you are supposed to be able to do almost everything yourself. He does everything I have already done, and sits back, stumped. We both know what the problem is, and I know he can’t fix it. He calls a friend. He orders tea. We sit and talk as customers come in and out, checking on their machines, asking prices on new machines. We are speaking in Arabic, a language we both speak badly, so conversation often lulls. I’m not sure his friend is coming.

Finally, I pack up my machine, and of course, as soon as I get ready to leave, the friend arrives, and we need to unpack it again. Ten minutes, and my machine is good as new. He tells me what the replacement part would cost in Kuwait (if he hadn’t been able to fix it) and I gasp in horror – I will have to look for a replacement part this summer, back in the US, because I have checked online and yes, they are expensive, but cost about the same in dollars as it would in KD – i.e. $49 vs KD 40. Aaarrgh.

I’ve spent two hours sitting and drinking tea in a shop that is sort of air conditioned, but the door was always open. I am hot, and sweaty, but my machine is fixed, at least enough that I can work on my project.

This is not the way it would happen in the United States. In the United States, I might get some sympathy, but I would not get same day service. I would have to leave my machine, I would have to be served in order, and I would not get my machine back until it were fixed, if it were fixed – people are not so good at fixing old things in the United States, you have to be really lucky. Mostly, when machines break, you buy a new one.

So I am feeling really lucky, really lucky, really blessed, to have had my machine emergency in Kuwait, where things are done differently, and my machine could be fixed on am emergency basis, while I waited.

P.S. The man who fixed my machine earns KD 80 a month – $280 for my US readers.

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May 15, 2007 - Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Middle East, Pakistan, Relationships, Social Issues, Technical Issue, Tools

9 Comments »

  1. glad to hear everything turned out right :D

    you do gotta love the way those guys can fix just about anything. literally.

    if you look hard enough you can almost always find somewhere that will be able to fix something which is why my hifi is about 10 years old cos it just refuses to stay dead so i have an excuse to buy a new one :P.

    Comment by sknkwrkz | May 15, 2007 | Reply

  2. I have an emergency too! My DVD player isn’t working! And even though Im Kuwaiti so I’m supposed to know who to go to to fix it I actually don’t and was thinking of just buying a new one because they’re pretty cheap these days.

    ANYway, I am proud of you for figuring out how to handle an emergency breakdown. I would have probably given up long before you did!

    Comment by 1001 Kuwaiti Nights | May 15, 2007 | Reply

  3. Skunk, you gotta tell Zin where she can get her DVD player fixed!

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 15, 2007 | Reply

  4. you could check out one of the shops in hawally. i think its called ibn khaldoon street, you know the one with the big communications tower on it, and the firestation. or if youre coming from the jabriya/hawally entrance, take a left at the 1st traffic lights and thats the street.

    they have a bunch of satellite and tv shops on your right hand side after opposite the coommunications tower.

    while it may be cheap if they can fix it, there is the risk that it might not last that long before it goes kaput again, unless its a simple fix.

    that and you might have go from shop to shop to find someone who can fix it. but there will always be someone who can.

    just dont try to get like a power supply rigged up for any electrical stuff cos i had one burn.

    Comment by sknkwrkz | May 15, 2007 | Reply

  5. Thanks, Skunk! Isn’t that also where to take computers that need fixing?

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 16, 2007 | Reply

  6. Great :) its good to know that you managed to fix it for such a cheap price but don’t worry i have a feeling that prices are going soooo up .. :)

    Comment by Kuwait Pictures | December 30, 2007 | Reply

  7. Do you do any grocery shopping Kuwait Pictures? Prices are already UP!

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 30, 2007 | Reply

  8. Oh wow, that’s great!
    I’m always amazed what and how fast they can fix things here and on the other hand how easy they can screw something up ;)

    Quilting, heh :)
    I wish I would not have two left hands, I would like to do something like that :)

    Comment by rainmountain | December 30, 2007 | Reply

  9. Rainmountain, I wrote this article back on May 15th – why are people commenting on it again now?

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 31, 2007 | Reply


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