She couldn't believe the heat. Her soles were actually melting to the tarmac. They didn't tell her it would be this hot. What was she thinking? A year away from home, training in a new job, $1000/week cash, with a shared flat included. Yes, that was all very nice, but it was the no rent, no men, no family, no responsibilities that really appealed to her. All she had to do was open doors, store luggage, heat meals, hand out newspapers, smile and ask "chicken or beef?". She thought of it as a glorified waitress job, it can't possibly be that difficult, so why does everybody make such a fuss about it?
They had landed after their 12-hour flight from New York, exhausted, dehydrated, and half-awake. All 300 of them, from Canada, the USA, Australia, England, and Ireland. They were to be the support crew for the millions of Hajis that would soon descend on this small, but powerful country. With tourism forbidden, it is the only time that such an influx of non-residents were expected and they were tightly guarded and controlled, in case the prophet seem less enticing than a new residence.
"Yalla imshi bint!" came sputtering from a white thoub robed man with a dark nicely shaped beard. His equally dark eyes peered at us from under his gutrah as he beckoned us to follow him. We shuffled through to the terminal, grateful to be embraced by the icy fingers of the air conditioning. She was glad she had brought along a reference book on all the strange customs, clothing and language she could expect here. She would have to look up that phrase later, she told herself, it must be useful as she had already heard it several times over the past 24-hours.
"When do we get to lie down and sleep!?" asked the tense blonde next to her in a drawling New South Wales accent. "I have been awake for yonks!" She smiled at her stupidly marvelling that she used the word "yonks", she had never heard anyone but her grandmother use that word.
The tall, lithe brunette next to her tossed her hair back while commenting on the fact that we still had to queue up for our uniforms, be selected with our flat-mates and then it is at least a 30-minutes in the lorries to the compound, but that we would arrive just in time to don our bathers and go for a dip.
"Oh this is just fucking great" her friend moaned under her breath behind her "it is not enough that we have to deal with foreigners, but do we have to relearn English too!? Did you understand anything those two said?" She giggled with a nod and replied "don't worry, I can translate for you if you like." At least our flight was only a few hours, she thought to herself, those girls must have had an additional 12-hour flight to get to New York, so she felt sorry for them.