Wasta, it ain’t just the Arabs

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that white people had wasta. What? Impossible. The West is this magical land of fair rules and queues and democracy. Where everyone gets a fair chance and women don’t need a #MeToo movement and the incompetent director’s godson managing your division doesn’t get away with everything, including sabotaging your career. But, that’s not true? What? All lies? Gasp! But the West is perfect? How? *bawling*

Ok, before I get into white wasta (WW), let’s define what the original wasta is. According to Wikipedia, yeah, this shit is so real it has a damn wiki page, “Wasta or wasata (Arabic: وَاسِطة wāsiṭah) is an Arabic word that loosely translates into nepotism, clout or ‘who you know’. It refers to using one’s connections and/or influence to get things done, including government transactions such as the quick renewal of a passport, waiving of traffic fines, and getting hired for or promoted in a job.” The corrupt thing about wasta is that usually the person getting the favour shouldn’t be. They’re not fit for the job but got a connect or they bypassed the rules and laws regulating every other Moe’s life to make their own easier. It’s unfair and they suck. Wasta is not like networking.

Now we’re going to get into WW where some dude also gets an unfair advantage over every other Joe’s life to make their own easier. I used to muddle all the concepts together: networking, cronyism, favouritism, connections, nepotism. To me, it was all the same shit just a different pile. Ummm…yes and no. I discovered it’s a bit more nuanced than that.

Having been raised with a disdain for wasta, probably because my parents didn’t have any back in the Middle East, in Canada, I learned that things should be earned through merit. As I matured and understood the idea of networking, I realized that this concept is a promotional and advertising tool for oneself and not like the stained idea of wasta. So, if I have certain skills or experience and I know someone in my network looking for a candidate like me, it is ok to approach them so long as I am not undermining any other applicant. That is me using my connection to network.

Another example of networking is you and another Joe apply to a job. You both look the same on paper. But, Joe knows the boss. He networked better than your dumbass. So, don’t be surprised if Joe gets the job. The boss wants the safer option. Knowing the candidate is less of a risk than not. I wouldn’t call this wasta. Wasta would be Joe looks like utter bile on paper. His reputation as an asinine turd precedes him and he still gets the job. That’s not proper networking. Just pure favouritism and cronyism. Plain and simple.

Imagine I was a hot steaming sack of shit with zero skills to offer and is prone to fucking up anything my unholy hand touches and I still get the position you worked your butt off for, you best bet your left kidney I got some mad wasta. Yes, because I discovered that wasta exists in my perfect Canadian world. I know, Canada. The land of unicorns and and free social health care, sigh, has been stained by wasta, from here known as WW. Worse yet, is when your boss tells you that you can’t leverage the connections in your network because you’re actually selling yourself too well. That my friends is a heavy dose of corruption with that bitter cup of WW. I know…in Canada.

My point is, seeing elements of Arabia in Canadiana was at first a huge surprise, then it matched everything else I’ve learned through my short existence on this wretched but beautiful planet: no matter how far and wide our species is spread, our assholeness is in our genes. We undermine each other, we envy, we hate, we covet, and we just suck. Only a few of us will prop others up. Why? I don’t fucken know. Some of us are dipshits, I guess, with zero confidence in who we are so we have to fuck it up for the ones who have their lives together.

Just hope you never have to endure a douche boss who’s bobbling around thinking he knows best when in reality his wasta got him where he is. Throw him out in the real world and he wouldn’t last a day serving fucken Tim Hortons coffee because even serving that rancid bile with its cheap useless plastic lids requires basic skills.

You learn something new every day.

Photo credit: Abdulrahem Swed

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