Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Note From The Underground

Apparently the coins I have aren't real money. This is a note from the underground. But let's start at the beginning. Out of Ramsis I decided to take the metro to my place. I had a 20 pound bill and some coins amount to 1 L.E. so I decided to use the coins consisting of a 50 pt coin, four 10pt coins and two 5pt coins to buy a metro ticket. All of this amounts to 1 L.E, the price for a metro ticket

When I went up to the ticket booth and handed the employee my coins amounting to 1 L.E, he protested and refused to take the money. The reason he protested was that I had given him coins to purchase my ticket. He told me that this wasn't money and that there was no way he could give this to someone as change. He directed me to his manager upon my request and I started my discussion.
I said, "I want to buy a ticket".
He responded, "I can't give this money to a customer, I'm sorry I can't accept it."
I said, "But this is money."
He said, "Who says this is money?"
I replied, "The Arab Republic of Egypt says that it's money. Who are you to not accept it?"
"How can I give this change to someone? Would you accept this sort of change?"
"I would," I said, "You just have to deliver this change to the right people, right?"
"No," he said, "The smallest bill I deliver is a 5 L.E bill, so this is unacceptable."
"Where's your manager?" I asked.
"He's on the other side, take the next staircase right," he said indifferently.
I went to the police station and asked for the person in charge, I had time and I wanted to get to the bottom of this. I asked them how it was possible that people working in the Metro, which is a public form of transportation, not accept the coins issued by the Arab Republic of Egypt. I used the full term, the Arab Republic of Egypt and sounded like an idiot using it but I didn't care, I had coins that were issued by the government and I wasn't going to let some employee at a booth tell me I wasn't allowed to use them.

The people in the police station were complacent. They really didn't care at all about my problem. It was too trivial and too inconsequential for them. Apparently I seemed so infuriated and unrelenting that the guy who seemed to be in charge told the other plain clothed policeman to handle it. "This is nonsense of course," he said nonchalantly, "this is money and should be accepted."

The plain clothed policeman simply went over to another booth and asked for a ticket with my change, problem solved. This wasn't the solution that I'd hoped for. I don't want to be the exception to the rule. I'd rather that the metro people took the money or the government stopped making these bloody coins.

But such is the case of our country. The man at the booth silently took the money and gave the officer a ticket. The officer then looked at me sordidly and said, 'Kol Sana Wenta Tayeb', which means may every year find you in good health. It was Eid. Before I walked off completely he added, "This is the principle of the Pharoahs, people need to be intimidated to do their job."

It was very sad because it was very true, all solutions are exceptional. People aren't willing to do what's right without the intimidation. The gap between the government and the people is growing wider.

I went back to that manager and told him I bought the ticket. "Have you no fear of God," I asked. Since he had a beard he was deeply offended and thought he'd get back at me. "Have you no fear of God, for giving me all these coins?" he asked.  What ensued was an exchange of words all very un-insulting and full of blame. I blamed him for not taking the money since they were what the government gave us and he blamed me for trying to pass around this money (as if it were counterfeit).

I don't know now if I acted correctly claiming my ticket with this money. It seems that these coins mean nothing to the people anymore. The guys in the booth care nothing for it and they've stated explicitly that people on the metro want nothing of it either. Are we rich enough to discard the small change? In Europe I still get the change of 1 cent when buying things from a supermarket.

What startled me most is that the government or something like public transport doesn't accept the money produced by the State. The good news is that a State divided upon itself cannot stand, the bad news is that till it falls, its people suffer. This has been a note from the real Egyptian underground. The summary is that small coins don't really work underground.


Eventuality said...

Gada3...I would have done the same thing. But yes, it seems people don't accept coins as money...even with the 50 p.t and sometimes the 1 L.E coins.

insomniac said...

hehehe, looks like something i would do too, given that i had the time of course :))

great minds think alike my friend :) yesterday i took the metro and i thought i'd use up some of the change, so i gathered all of it... since none of the small change made a 1 pound, i paid a 1EGP coin, the man took it without argument tho!! good because i was in a hurry :)

Wael Eskandar said...

The 1 L.E coin is okay.. but the smaller coins are worth nothing even if they add to a big amount, I doubt the beggars accept it..

insomniac said...

the menady guy looks at me with disgust when i give him the 1 LE coin!!! i almost feel ashamed handing it out!!