A few days ago, a friend and I were walking in Hamra, and he decided he wanted perfume, so we went into this small perfume shop facing Brisk and Crepaway.
The salespeople there were so sweet and welcoming, showing him every perfume available, being really patient with his being picky and his bargaining. They gave him some pretty good prices, going down from 120,000 to 65,000 LBP. Of course we were suspicious, asking why and all. They said they owned the shop, and they were selling the perfumes for retail price, plus they could “win us as customers,” so they do not consider it a loss.
The salesperson was showing my friend perfumes that were placed on shelves. Looking around, his eyes landed on a table before us that had several rows of perfumes there. He asked, “What about those?”
Then came the amazing response with a proud smile: “Shu baddak fiyon heydol, mannon mne7, min bee3on lal ‘serlankiye wel hnoud’ w hol…” [“Leave these, they are not good, we sell them to Sri Lankans and Indians and those people.”]
The nicely packaged, plastic wrapped boxes emblazoned a 120,000 LBP price tag, and names like "Armi Code" (Armani, anyone?) and "1 Bullion Gold" (Paco's 1 Million) and some other “interesting” variations.
Of course, we just exited the shop, leaving the “good” merchandise reserved for the Lebanese, as well as the “other” merchandise, untouched.
It is nothing surprising that the “lower” you are hierarchically, the more blows you take – for example when there are budget cuts nationally, nobody gets near a judge’s salary, while an old person on pension would receive half because there is no money. Or people who were abused are the first to inexcusably abuse their domestic workers.
It is amazing how so deeply “lost” in this system we all are that not only do we accept things like this, but we also embrace them and force them upon others, and top of it all, we boast of our abuse of one of the most unjustly treated and lowest paid “groups” in the country.