x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

I am capable of doing some things myself

From having my groceries packed to taxis trying to pick me when I am walking, I can do some things for myself.

Every time I visit my neighbourhood supermarket, a ritual ensues.

This establishment is based in the recesses of a tower block and therefore only attracts a limited customer base so, unlike its mall-based equivalents, it rarely has any lengthy queues at the tills.

Thus, as soon as I begin unpacking my shopping basket's contents on to the conveyor belt, the tussle begins. Immediately, one of the in-store bag packers arrives and starts manhandling my produce into plastic bags, forcing me to rush to the end of the till to shoo him elsewhere.

Now, I don't begrudge these chaps being employed because I'm sure some customers find the service they provide a necessity.

However, coming from the UK, I'm familiar with a system that forces me to pack my groceries myself. So I'm used to the arduous task of prising apart the plastic and packing my goods within.

Because of this system, we Brits become particular about packing things to our exact specifications. Also, we try to make a vague attempt at saving the planet by at least resolving to reduce the amount of plastic bags we use.

Conversely, I'm convinced these in-store packers are secretly paid commission by plastic bag manufacturers to use as many of their products as possible. It seems these guys have one philosophy, which is a separate bag for each item regardless of its bulk.

Anyway, suffice to say, this grocery-based tussle just becomes one of the frustratingly repetitive aspects of life in the UAE.

Another source of irritation of mine is my daily walk to work.

I am fortunate to live within ambling distance of my office, so I use my feet to transport myself to work, reasoning that the occasional cost of replacement shoes is far less than daily Mawaqif charges.

Yet, my early morning saunter is consistently ruined by the fact that taxi drivers seem incredulous that any person would actually choose to use their own legs.

It's not as if I'm not perched on the kerb, waving my arms frantically trying to attract the attentions of a cab. Instead, I'm just wandering along, trying to organise my thoughts about my forthcoming workload for the day.

Nevertheless, the taxi drivers seem to see me walking, assume I must be in need of their form of transportation and give me a quick blast of the horn, instantly shattering my pre-work introspection.

Both of these incidents, rather than just being random, unconnected moans (OK, they are a bit), are indicative of a more profound issue. That is that there is a small minority of people who do thrive on carrying out everyday tasks of our own volition, so please just let us be.

OK, rant over. Be sure to catch my next column where I muse over how I am more than capable of filling my own petrol tank and sound off about waiters assuming I don't know how to place my napkin on my lap.


• Hugo Berger is a features writer for The National