Having tried the quick and easy route and failed miserably, I returned to Apple. I repeated the story to another kind gentleman. Was the store lying, or were warranty cases really frozen for the whole Middle East? He had no record of such a thing happening, and while we were at it, he had no record of my earlier phone call with the gentleman who started the whole dog-and-pony show in the first place.
If there is one thing my mother has taught me, however, it is to keep track of documentation, and so I read him the date and case number of my previous phone call. Oh yes, there it is. Well, he was going to have to send me to the department that handles problems with power adapters for those 'older' (I suppose that 18 months should count as ancient in the computer world) laptops.
But then he was going to have me talk with somebody else more... something. And evidently younger, as J- sounded like he had skipped college in favor of working for Apple. J- got the story again, and then was deeply sorry that he couldn't do anything for me - Apple can't do a thing without the original equipment being returned. The best thing he could suggest was that I simply buy a new adapter.
There are many things I have learned while living here. I can stare down oncoming cars to a standstill. I can avoid looking anyone in the eye while in a crowded Metro car. I have perfected the expat personal space bubble. I know how to get delivery boys to my house within twenty minutes. And I have gained The Voice.
When I very first came to Egypt and watched my compatriots interact with the locals, I was ashamed. Whenever they talked, a demanding, irritated, high-pitched sound came from their mouth. I could see the Egyptian cringing. 'Why was that necessary,' I wondered, 'if you treat people with kindness and respect, they'll be happy to do whatever you ask them to.' Now, of course, I know why The Voice is necessary, although I try and be decent whenever possible. However, there are times when decency gets you nowhere, and the only thing that will make any (especially when I am dealing with a man) difference is The Voice.
And so I used The Voice. I opened with my usual phrase.
"Excuse me?!?! You want me to get the original power adapter back?! What would you like me to do - have my husband take a gun down to iSpot and demand they return the power adapter?!? It was YOUR customer service representative that TOLD ME to go down to this store!! He GAVE me the number and address!! Without his advice, I would have NEVER NEVER gone down to that store - I would have dealt with Apple directly. I LIVE here, it is a third world country, NOTHING WORKS HERE!!!!!'
I stopped, wrung dry of invective and shaking. Being nasty feels good for a few seconds, but really I don't like it.
A stunned silence on the line was finally broken by J-, in a small voice telling me to hold while he talked to someone, anyone other than the crazy lady shouting at him from Egypt. He returned after a few minutes, composed and relieved. Apple would be happy to send me a new power adapter and they would be willing to waive the usual requirement of returning the defective equipment.
After I hung up the phone and danced a victory dance, a small voice in the back of my head whispered that he was just telling me lies to get me off the phone. Since the phone call, however, I've received several follow-up emails telling me that yes, the adapter really is coming in the mail.
And I believe them, mostly. But part of me won't believe it until my laptop is fully charged and happily running budget numbers. Living in Egypt has scarred me.