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The main reason Husband returned to Dubai so soon after his last trip was to prepare our property for re-renting. He asked if I would like to accompany him. Optimistically, he presented it as a mini-vacation. He went for the beaches and palm trees angle.

I was more focussed on the 22-hour flight with two stopovers, the skin melting temperatures of the UAE hitting summer, and sleeping on the floor of an empty villa without even an espresso machine. Fairly quickly – you might say spontaneously – I realised there was nothing I would like to do less, except maybe hack off my lower limbs with a blunt axe. Even then, it would depend on how blunt said axe was, and whether I had ready access to Tequila.

Compared to the above, my contribution to the whole process was meagre. I sourced potential tenants, arranged finances, retained a maintenance company and collated paperwork. I was so delighted NOT going to the UAE that staying here with my dog was like a vacation in itself (if you disregard the guilt).

I was particularly glad when Husband described the state in which Tenants had left the villa. Thankfully most of it was cosmetic damage: gashes and chips out of the plaster, nails all over the show, double sided sticky tape festooning three walls, bolts in the master bedroom wall from a badly mounted TV. Husband also said it looked like someone had hit the trunk of the tree with the edge of a spade (who? Who does that to a poor, innocent, defenceless tree? Sickening dendrophile).

Ah, the bitter ruins of a formerly loving relationship.

But then, how was I to know they were dendrophiles?

Tenants had left without cleaning the house. This particularly distressed me, since I spent three days scouring the place before they moved in. I recall Mrs Tenant calling unexpectedly to discover me straddling a kitchen cupboard. She said:-

“Oh, you’re- are you cleaning?” And before I could say, NO THE RUBBER GLOVES ARE MY OWN DISTINCTIVE FASHION STATEMENT AND I ALWAYS PUT JIFF IN MY <EXPLETIVE DELETED> HAIR, she continued, “It’s not on our account, is it?”

I unclenched my tongue from between my teeth to say, “Well, yes-”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” she said. “We’re only going to clean it again after our stuff arrives.”

“Well ok, but, you know, we’re talking about two and a half years worth of Husband’s and my dead skin cells,” I said with an involuntary wince. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine leaving an abode other than spotlessly glistening (in a totally non-mucous context); I mean, I would be pure MORTIFIED. I guarantee that, when the time comes, we will leave our current rental accommodation cleaner than it has been at any point during our occupancy.

“Oh,” she said. “Um, yes, well. Carry on then.”

I suppose I had been warned. Tenants had no compunction about leaving 18 months of their dead skin cells cluttering up the place.

Husband spent hours plastering, cleaning and fixing. Yet apparently, Mr Tenant got terribly upset when Husband pointed out the condition the house was in. There were Words.

Bad ones.

At least this atones for Husband stinging me for cleaning the villa the week before we left Dubai.

Nah only messing; nothing makes up for that. I will carry that grudge to my deathbed AND BEYOND.

However, he has earned himself several nag-free months featuring kinky sex on demand.

I am so overwhelmed by his input I might even provide the sex myself.

Just hyperventilating

Although we had agreed to leave the Middle East at the end of 2007, realistically we were looking at January, possibly February 2008. When I was in Ireland, Husband rang me one night to give me a pep talk on stress management:

“Niamhie, I know we said the end of the year, but does it matter whether it’s January or February, or even March? Or April?”

“Husband. We’re leaving in December.”

“Yes, but what I’m saying is, you’re going to get all worked up – you know, when things aren’t happening fast enough – and you should relax – take a chill pill! I mean, we know we’re leaving, so it doesn’t matter if the date slips a month or several. Does it?”

“You know what I’m stressed about right now? That my husband obviously does not know me AT ALL.”


“Just hyperventilating.”

“You should breathe more.”

Shortly after Husband’s father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, we booked one-way flights to Auckland, departing Dubai on 24 December.

Originally, we planned to sell the Springs villa before the end of 2007. However, in early November the resale market was sluggish and we decided to rent the property.

The Tenants were the first people to view the house. Mr and Mrs Tenant were almost more anal than I am, so inevitably I fell instantly in love. When they were noncommittal, it was all I could do to stop myself dropping to my knees and begging them to move in rent-free.

Later the same day, Mr Tenant called and offered to take the house and asked for first option to buy. The deal felt profoundly karmic: The Tenants were being kicked out of their furnished villa on 20/12, which was the precise date Husband and I had agreed the house should be ready for occupancy. Then they bought our BBQ, fridge, oven, washing machine, wireless router and Husband’s motorbike.

The least I could do was invite them around for a barbeque. Mr and Mrs Tenant turned up accessorised with three children. The only tense moment was after the meal, when Mrs Tenant came into the kitchen to help load the dishwasher.

“You’re not one of those people who washes things before they put them in the dishwasher, are you?” she said.

“What, me?” I said. “NO! GOD no. Do people actually DO THAT? You’re joking. Scary to think there are nutsos like that roaming around in the world. Unsupervised. Must be a real worry when you have kids, is it?”

But later it was hard not to feel resentful as I washed and reloaded the dishes.

Shortly after signing the tenancy contract, with habitually spectacularly impeccable timing, Eid was announced to fall three days before The Tenants moved in on 20/12. As landlords, we were required to paint and clean the house, but we only had one day between the shippers and the Eid holiday. We realised we were going to have to clean the house ourselves.

On 15/12 Husband and I had painters falling over us as we conducted a final sort through our stuff. Husband didn’t take it well and there were Words. At least I didn’t have to go to the trouble of bursting into tears; at that stage I was crying pretty much permanently. On Sunday the shippers came and I wept through the entire ordeal. On Monday I finalised everything with The Tenants, closed our phone and Internet account with Du, went to DEWA (water and electricity) for our final bill, organised New Zealand dollars, picked up Husband’s motorbike engine from KTM, and picked up Husband from work.

As I drove him home, Husband told me he would have to work over some of Eid. Again, I didn’t throw a wobbler so much as simply ramp up the bawling to full-blown panic attack.

“You’re going to lee-hee-heave me with all the clea-hee-heaning!”

“Baby! Of course I won’t,” said Husband solicitously.

Instead, while I spent Tuesday and Wednesday scrubbing the house down, Husband fixed his motorbike in the back garden. It had been broken for six weeks. I’m telling you, THAT will feature in future arguments 🙂

Reason we will not regret departing Dubai #32,557

Our water pump in the villa has been broken for about a year. At one point Husband tried to fix it, but instead he broke the bypass tap. Now that we plan on renting the villa, we realise we have to address the problem, so it fell to me to call Emrill and schedule an appointment.

About a year ago, we had Emrill come to look at the water pump. In fairness, they did indeed look at it; they might even have kicked it a couple of times. Then they charged us US$ 300, which they claimed was for fixing the problem, but was ACTUALLY for standing around feeling their armpits and the inestimable pleasure of their company.

So I called 800-EMRILL:

Me: Hello, I’d like to have someone come and fix our water pump, please.

Customer Service: What is the problem, Madam?

Me: The water pump is broken.

CC: What’s wrong with it?

Me: It’s not working.

CC: Ok. Where are you located?

Me: Springs 2, Street 12, Villa 66-

CC: Villa 9

Me: No, Villa 66-

CC: Yes, Villa 9-

Me: No, Villa 66, S-I-X  S-I-X

CC: Someone will come.

Me: Thank you. Er, when?

CC: Maybe today.

Me: Ok, can you give me an idea what time?

CC: I say, today.

Me: Well, I’m not going to be in the house this afternoon-

CC: Please call if you go out.

Me: You have no idea when someone might arrive? Do you really think this is an efficient way to do business?

CC: What is this word: ‘efficient’?

Me: Listen, I have much better words than that.

When I put down the phone, it took me half an hour to unclench my buttocks.

Now, according to Murphy’s Law of Existentialism, the only way to guarantee the maintenance man would show up was to leave the house. This is absolutely sound, failsafe logic with only one flaw, admittedly a large one: I would not be there when they arrived.

I spent ages agonising about whether to call Emrill to inform them I was going out; or to not call Emrill in order to fully convey the extent of my pettiness and ire; or whether I should call them – not to tell them I was leaving – but to communicate just how much I RESENTED calling.

Then I forgot all about it.

When I returned to the house that evening, there was a card on the door informing me that I had not been in the house, and that I should call Emrill to reschedule.

It took me a week to summon the energy. Finally, one morning, I was feeling up to it. The sun was shining, the birds singing, I’d slept well. My coffee was just strong enough to be peppy without burning my eyes.

Me: Hi, I’d like to reschedule a maintenance appointment.

CC: <in thick accent> Job number.

Me: Sorry- did you say job number? Right. <reading off the card> S-

CC: <thicker than three day old custard> S-P-R-B-D-F

Me: What? Sorry, the card only says S-6249.

CC: <big sigh demonstrating superior lung capacity> The full job number is SPRBDF-6249.

Me: Ok, that’s nice.

CC: The man, he went to your house. But there was nobody there-

Me: Yes, and I’m really terribly sorry about that.

CC: Oh dear, oh dear. The job, it is very old.

Me: Well, I logged it last week.

CC: Very old. I will have to be making the new job card.

Me: Yanno, WHATEVER.

CC: I am making new card. What is the problem, Madam?

Me: Same problem I reported last week.

CC: What is this?

Me: Is it not on the old job card?

CC: <silence>

Me: Ok, the water pump is broken.

CC: What is wrong with it?

Me: It’s BROKEN! If it was <expletive deleted> WORKING, I wouldn’t be CALLING YOU, WOULD I?

CC: Is there someone being in your house?

Me: Indeed, I will sit around all day on the off chance that someone from Emrill might grace me with a visit at any moment hereby unspecified.

CC: I am thanking you for your call, Madam.

Me: Gnrnragh!

This time, my buttocks were so clenched I couldn’t get up off the chair. I banged my head off the table for a while in a futile attempt to relieve frustration. In the end, the only thing to do was call Emrill back.

Me: Hello, I’d like to CANCEL job number SPRBDF-6260.

CC: What is the job number?

Me: S. P. R. B. D. F. Siix. Twooo. Siiiix. Zeeroooo.

CC: So, you logged this yesterday-

Me: This morning.

CC: No, you logged it yesterday.

Me: You know, I remember quite well when I logged it, because it was only five minutes ago-

CC: No, the date on the card is twelve November.

Me: I think you will find, with a bit of research and some relatively untaxing powers of deduction, that today is twelfth November.

CC: Is it?


CC: Ok, the job is cancel.

Me: Do you want to know WHY I’m cancelling a job I logged five minutes ago?

CC: No.

Me: Well, I’m going to tell you anyway! So there! It’s because Emrill is rubbish! I hope the quality of maintenance is better than the level of customer service, because if not, there are a whole bunch of houses that will probably collapse into a whole pile of rubble after your maintenance men visit! So far, I have found Emrill’s customer care to be possibly the most tragically awful, uninformative, apathetic, enraging bunch – which is saying something in a country hardly renowned for its customer relations!

CC: <silence>

Me: Ok, bye.

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