McBarely Made It
Today my roommate and I were out running errands and starting to get a bit hungry. On our first days, we turned up our noses at McDonald’s but by now, we know that it’s an oasis for us women, in a desert of men-only eating establishments. Certainly there are others, but it’s hard for us to find them when we’re out and about in unfamiliar areas.
We knew that the noon-ish prayer time was at 11:43, so we kept close track of the time, as everyone here learns to do. We got to McDonald’s family seating entrance at 11:32 or so, and the staffperson told us they were closing for prayer time.
“Oh, no! Prayer time is at 11:43,” we said. “Ten more minutes!”
“What? You know the prayer times?,” he laughed and said he could let us in but he’d have to lock us in for prayer time.
“Yes, we know. Yes, please,” we said.
We ordered a McSalad and McArabia Sandwich set and found a comfy private booth to relax in. The same McD guy who’d let us in brought our food to us, as well as an English newspaper, Arab News (maybe?). Where are you from? etc, we chatted for a couple minutes and he left.
Then, we enjoyed our meal and suddenly I heard something unfamiliar. We stopped talking and could then hear clearly 80’s rock music being played in the McD kitchen. While this wouldn’t be remarkable elsewhere, in Saudi Arabia, music that is non-religious is banned in public, and frowned on at home.
Since most workers are non-Saudis, the workers were enjoying a few minutes of music. So, we spent the noon prayer time relaxing at McD’s, with the faint sounds of rock music in the background.
After about 40 minutes inside, our friend came and told us he’d unlocked the door and we could leave. Fat and happy, we did.