Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reform What: Businesses; Production & Services.

Charles Montgomery Burns

I don’t know if this happens with you guys, but when I think of evil businesses, telecom companies are the first to come to my mind, it could be the numerous complain-about-your-ISP tweets that I read every day, maybe because I spend a lot of time on the internet (and the phone). It could also be THAT THEY WON’T STOP REMINDING ME OF THEIR UNFORTUNATE EXISTENCE IN MY LIFE, yes, spam SMS! No, I do not want to subscribe to your SMS channels, I do not want to visit your café, I don’t want you to tghanili, nor do I want to asamm3ak, I’ll watch the discovery channel on TV thank you very much and I most certainly do not care about my horoscopes, I know; Monday will be dull and boring, how about you do what you promise, and stop ripping me off (two totally unconnected things).

Ok, forget telecom, let’s discuss quality of products and services here, I’m pretty sure people will jump and defend businesses by saying that Jordan is not an industrial country, and that we’re not developed. When you get the chance, take a look at products that were made in Jordan and exported to Europe or the US, quite impressive and at the same time frustrating, to realize that your country is in fact capable of producing high quality products and crops (from apparel to fruit and vegetables) but that ‘they’ don’t think the Jordanian market is good enough for such products.

Moving on to after sale, how many positive experiences have you had with customer service in any company? One? Two? Out of how many? And why are there even any bad experiences? Ever tried to fix an appliance that still had its warranty valid? To return something that still had the tag on? Has your internet service provider ever fixed your problem after your first call? In fact, have they ever done anything over the phone except telling you to visit their shops and that this call is recorded for quality assurance purposes? How many times have you decided not to return something faulty just so you do not go through the experience with a grumpy employee?

This is nothing. What about if the service was medical care? With the degradation of ethics that reached even the profession where ethics are most needed, hospitals and even clinics are nothing but businesses now, with money as the ultimate target; you’re sick? Here’s a bunch of expensive unnecessary tests that your insurance should pay for because they’re jerks. What? You don’t have insurance? Here’s a trial-and-error prescription, try that and if you die, come see me, but please make an appointment. The Hippocratic Oath now means nothing to a lot of doctors and malpractice is yet another issue that needs a dedicated post.

I can go on and on about this. Bottom line: business is yet another sector that is in a dire need of reform.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reform What: Streets and Traffic.

Amman Flag, Amman, Jordan
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Jordan

Because Amman’s streets look like this:  
Which is already messed up, especially when you try to use logic to find your way (I’ve learned, the hard way, that when your brain says go right, you go left because this is not a rectangle!) and since we cannot do anything about the geography of Amman, how about we make those streets safe? I have some requests, I know I’m being very demanding here but please bare with me, dear reformers:

1.  We need sidewalks, ones that you can walk on.

2. It would help if you paint lines on the streets because many people don’t know what lanes are.

3. More garbage dumpsters, for people who litter “because there aren’t any trashcans around”. Ma3lish, bare with them.

4. Traffic signs that are not hidden or facing the wrong way, because it is not supposed to be a trap you know.

5. Pedestrian bridges and tunnels. Ah, I know the concept might be hard to comprehend at first, but you see they help people cross streets (especially when drivers think zebra crossings are decorations) and for those who insist on crossing the street without using them, you can build fences.  وإذا ضل متنح وتعربش عالسور، الله لا يرده. 

6. Some other way to handle accidents that whatever is being followed right now, it is ridiculous that main streets are being blocked for hours because a car’s bumper was scratched.

7.  Parking spaces would be nice.

8. I’d love a tunnel and a bridge instead of Hada’eq traffic lights for example, but I’m just dreaming.

9. Turning some really bust streets into pedestrian-only streets, Hamra, Rainbow… etc. they’re disgusting.

10. Street vendors who take up huge spaces on the sidewalks with their bastaat could be either moved or limited to a small area. It doesn’t make sense that people need to step down and walk in the middle of the street because of those!

There, pretty difficult list isn’t it? We still need solutions for people who jump in front of cars intentionally to get ‘compensation’ money, motorcycle drivers that pass between cars like they’re in a video game, the crying 3elkeh kid in Rabyeh, actually all 3elkeh kids in general, mentally unstable people roaming the streets, beggars, people who honk when the light turns yellow, people who won’t budge when the light turns green, nose pickers at traffic lights, people who take the space of three cars when they park and people who hang so many flags and pictures on the rear window that it makes it impossible for them to see through it.

Reform streets.

Reform What: Education.

I’m in my helpful mood, so I decided to help the officials in the government with their reform plan, because as it appears, they’re lost and in need of guidance, or maybe their vision is blurry (or blocked) and they cannot see what’s wrong here. Anyway, number 1:


The fact that anyone who majored in math can become a math teacher is the biggest part of what’s wrong with our teachers. You study history in college, you graduate and ta-da! You’re a history teacher. Well I’m sorry government, but that’s not the way it goes! 

I finished school 8 years ago and from what I’m hearing, thing have gotten a lot worse since then. Teachers lack the necessary communication skills that are needed to educate. Some teachers treat students like they’re their opponents, some use foul language with them, that is if we decide to turn a deaf ear to the physical abuse stories. 

One of the most basic things the government (represented by the ministry of education) should provide is proper education in a suitable environment and public schools’ environments are as far as they can be from suitable. Heat, ventilation, space, minimum first aid requirements are all in miserable shape and I’m not even getting into toilets and sanitation because I just ate. 

Universities might be in better shape when it comes to the overall atmosphere, but the psychological pressure professors put students under is another huge problem; from racism to just plain douchebagness, every semester is like a battle. The common conversation during registration period is about how to deal with this professor so that you stay on his good side (and therefore pass) and what not to do around that one so that you don’t end up on his bad side and fail. And yes, it is personal and has nothing to do with your grades.

Beside the instructors, there’s always the eternal problem of administrative issues, registration, fees, registration, credit hours, fees, fees, registration and fees. Let’s say you need to register for 15 credit hours this semester, you go to find only 2 out of the 5 subjects are available, you temporarily settle for those until you find a solution, that solution being a week-long battle (sometimes more) with the grumpy employee at the registration department plus the head of section or the dean at your faculty, after you get the (not really) necessary paperwork done through the agonizing bureaucratic process, you go to register for the rest of the classes and whaddya know! Your previous registration has been canceled, because the minimum is 12 hours and you didn’t reach those. And that was only one of the simple and common cases.

I’m also not getting into the issue of high fees here, you know because of the quality of the service you’re bound to receive. 

So, number one: reform education, reform schools, reform universities, reform colleges, reform teachers, professors and anyone in the sector because people have had enough.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Professional Tips for an Uglier City

Let’s face a painful truth; when it comes to nature, Jordan is not exactly the prettiest of all countries, first of all, it’s beige! We have no water, and we choose to build cities (or academies?) on fertile land and leave the desert. But you know it’s still not ugly enough for some people’s taste. So here’s how we make it uglier.

1. Litter, litter, litter. Wherever you are, I’m sure you have a paper tissue in your hand, just throw it out. You can do it subtly by pretending it fell from your hand (no, no one falls for that by the way), or you can be bold about it and proudly throw it as far as you can. Either way, the contrast of white tissues on black/grey streets makes a great big picture.

2. Litter some more, shawerma Arabi meal boxes also look attractive on the side of the road, but don’t forget to leave that can of Mountain Dew next to it. You know green is the trend.

3. Cut down trees. Forget that green thing I said earlier, beige is the new green.

Double parking, Chicago style

4. For more beauty inside the city, double park, triple park, hell park over parked cars, on sidewalks (pedestrians never use those anyway).

Election banners
(Just for the record, this is not Amman)

5. Banners. Because we need more of those and because no one heard of that offer you’re giving on haircuts, highlights and eyebrow tattoos. Make sure they’re colorful too.

Crayon on wall....very nice face by a 3 year old Elyse
(A baby drew that, apparently. It looks like troll face!)

6. Graffiti. It’s okay if you cannot draw to save your life, next time you’re waiting in line at a public place (preferably a governmental organization, or when you’re paying bills) bring your crayons (or just a BIC pen) and let us know that wall belongs to you, and your love, Nawaal.

How do you keep your city beautiful?