Friday, November 01, 2013
Last night I was out at one of the 5-star hotels catching up with a couple who were visiting Qatar that I hadn't seen in years (no, it was not a Halloween party, no costumes). It was pleasant sitting at the lounge chatting with people. Since I was driving I passed on the wine and fancy cocktails that everyone was drinking and only had a diet coke. Unless the law has changed in the last few years I believe the drinking and driving limit in Qatar is 0.00, if you drive after having even one drink you could be in big trouble. It's highly unlikely I'd be caught -- the police almost never do drinking and driving road checks, but I'm not going to jeopardize my job and living in Qatar for a glass of wine.
So when it was time for the bill I braced myself for what I knew was going to be a ridiculous charge for a soda and looked at the bill. Sure enough, QAR 30 (~$8.25) for one Diet Coke. I usually pay less than that for an entire dinner at the restaurants in the city. Oh well, the evening was about meeting friends and having a nice time.
I honestly don't understand why many people in Qatar frequently eat and drink at these 5-star hotels and pay those exorbitant prices. As far as I'm concerned once in a blue moon is fine when you want to treat yourself to something nice but many people are in these places two or three times a week, or more. *Shrug*, it’s their money I suppose. When laborers and other low-paid workers hear about the prices at these hotels they are absolutely dumbfounded. QAR 30 would be a day's wage for many of them, and you can buy a soda at a store for QAR 1.5.
I suppose many people would consider me cheap. That's fine, because I consider myself cheap. I just don't like paying lots of money for things that I know I can get for much less. I don't enjoy paying ridiculous prices for things. Some people ask me why I don't pay for business class tickets when I go to Canada and it's because, to me, paying an extra $3,000-4,000 so that I am in a more comfortable seat for 16 hours is just not worth it to me. There are much better things that could be done with that money, like giving it to my niece and nephew’s education fund.
Maybe it’s a Canadian thing, lots of Canadians that I know are like this. Perhaps it's a legacy of decades of the Canadian dollar being much less than the US dollar, making everything in the world seem expensive to us. I dunno.
However, for the record, I may be cheap but I'm not what I call “damn cheap”. What's the difference? “Damn cheap” is when someone is so cheap people go, “Damn, that guy is cheap!” essentially miserly. There is a difference. I like to travel, I eat out all the time, I have a cleaner who comes by once every couple of weeks, I treat friends to dinners, I enjoy having cappuccinos and lattes. I just don't drive a fancy car, live in expensive neighborhoods, or fly first class and stay in top hotels. I’m a 3-star guy and proud of it!
Cheap, not damn cheap.