Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Vehicle

Part of the deal when I came to join the company I'm working for right now (it's a little publishing outfit owned by a French-Lebanese family, if you must know) is that I could borrow the company's old BMW for about a month while I find my bearings and get my paperwork in order so I can buy my own wheels.

Well, I've been here three months and ten days and I haven't bought a car yet. Why? I don't know. I guess the main reason is that I'm lazy and I procrastinate a lot. Or, as a former friend of mine once not-so-famously said: "I have a block."

In any case, the company has demanded the BMW back -- not out of spite or anything, it's just that they hired a new sales girl and promised it to her in the contract -- but has been nice enough to lend me the Nissan pick-up, which is normally driven by Fahad, the dude from either Yemen or Tanzania (I think he might be a Yemeni from Tanzania, but that's not important right now). Fahad seems to do most of the actual work around here, but who's on vacation for the month of August.

Mind you, driving a dirty white pick-up truck around Dubai is kind of sexy, in an opposite-day sort of way. I mean, it's a delivery vehicle. You won't find many white people doing it.

About a week or so ago, I was cruising around in the pick-up with a female friend of mine (Greek-Cypriot-British) when a car behind me starting honking its horns and blinking its lights. I pulled over to the side of the road and rolled down the window. A woman -- I suspect she was of some non-Gulf Arab extraction, but I can't be sure -- pulled up along side and said this:

"You stopped in front of the [something or other] where you're not supposed to stop, and she got scared." She points to her young daughter in the front seat.

Come again? It sounded like she was chastising me, which is odd because a) I hadn't stopped the car for at least ten minutes, and b) so what if I had? I figured I must be misinterpreting the situation, and maybe she was asking for my help.

"Are you OK?" I asked. "Do you need help?"

"I'm find, it's just that she was scared," she said.

Lady, I thought, if you were my mother I'd be terrified. Ferrr-reak.

"I'm very sorry," I said.

"It's OK," she said, and drove off.

My passenger was really unimpressed -- angry, in fact -- that I had needlessly apologized to this bizarre interloper. I don't know, but this could be one of the reasons I don't see her much anymore. The passenger, I mean.

Later, however, after relating this story to a colleague, I realized what must have happened. She probably saw an unveiled woman in the passenger seat of a dirty white pick-up -- the kind of thing usually only driven by Yemeni or Tanzanian delivery guys -- got all suspicious that something was amiss, and decided to be meddlesome. When the passenger didn't scream for help and the driver turned out to be a Westerner, she made up some idiocy about her daughter getting scared. That's my best guess, anyway.

That's only the beginning of the long, dull saga of the pick-up, but since Mohammed just brought it back and I need to finish packing it with my stuff (I'm moving -- again) I'm afraid I have better things to do now than actually finish the story.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In case you wanted to know how to make a capon.