Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Case of the Missing Water Bottle

Pop Quiz: Can you drink the water out of the taps here in UAE?
Answer: Yes, however, it tastes awful.

So, most people either buy bottled water at the hypermarket or, like us, own a water cooler and have 5-gallon bottles of water delivered each week by the water company. We get our water from Oasis and the system is pretty simple. You can pay cash each week (10 dirhams for each bottle) or you can purchase a coupon book and use those to pay for each bottle each week. You also pay a deposit on the bottle (25 dirhams) and have to purchase a minimum of 2 bottles to get the whole process started. The company comes each Saturday and replaces our empty bottle with a full one ... at least that's how it had worked up until last weekend.

Friday night: Wanting to sleep in the next morning and afraid I'd miss the water truck, I set my bottle outside our building with the coupon under it the night before.

Saturday morning: Wondering if our water had arrived yet, I stepped outside to check and not only had the water guys not yet arrived, but my empty bottle and coupon were nowhere in sight! At first, I thought maybe I remembered wrong and hadn't set the bottle and coupon out the night before, so I went back in the apartment and checked. Nope, no empty water bottle there either. So back outside and I started looking around the building to see if maybe it had blown into the courtyard or something. No luck. Truly, I was a little dumbfounded and must have looked it because one of the workers at the compound asked me if there was a problem. I explained that our water bottle was missing and after some pantomiming and gesticulating, he understood me and went off in search of my missing bottle. Where he was planning to look was beyond our ability to communicate in English. :)

I waited around a bit, but didn't hear anything so went in search of the building manager. Actually, we don't yet have a building manager, but there was an open house going on so I went over and talked to the women running the showings. I was beginning to form a theory about what had happened. Every morning, a guy with a shopping cart comes around to empty our garbage cans. My theory is that he saw the water bottle, assumed it was trash, and took it to the dumpster.

I found the woman in charge and explained to her what had happened. She called over a different workman from the compound and asked him to look around for my bottle. She assured me we'd work something out, so I headed back to our apartment.

A while later, the water guys showed up (and I still didn't have my water bottle). I explained to them what I thought may have happened, but of course, there wasn't anything they could do to help so I ended up paying another 25 dirham deposit for another water bottle. (sigh)

And, of course, less than 30 minutes later, the second workman came back with my water bottle and the mystery was solved. Two other workman had swept out the carport and the entry way of our building that morning and assumed the water bottle was trash and took it to the dumpster. So, I now have 2 empty water bottles and I think I'll keep the spare in a safe place in case the building entry gets cleaned again. :)

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