Prelude to a nightmare in Saudi Arabia

The menacing screech of a speeding vehicle woke me up early one morning before dawn last week. I had barely reached stage 1 of my sleep when the shrill cry was followed by an ominous crash of metal against metal.

Looking through blurry eyes and an equally blurry bedroom window on this damp early morning, I could make out the wreckage of a small import tangled with the front fender of my 4×4. I also noticed that two or three men were working feverishly to separate the two vehicles.

Pulling a T-shirt over and into my pajama bottoms, I stumbled down the stairs and out the front door to investigate, confront, and, at this point, kill if I had to. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on the sense of reason.

No sooner had I opened the doors of the entrance gate than I saw the offending vehicle stop and drive away at full speed. Running barefoot halfway down the street littered with broken glass plastic shook me up enough to realize it wouldn’t do any good. And going after them in my 4-wheeler before the law gets there wouldn’t help either. After all, I can be a victim of hitting someone with a damaged front!

And so, I did the next best thing. I called 911 to report this incident. After several moments of frustration, someone finally answered. When the dispatcher finally understood my crisis, he asked me for the location and the street address. After a few more minutes of texting him the location, he told me a patrol car would show up and hung up.

A misadventure at the start of Ramadan

About 20 minutes later, as I walked barefoot down the sidewalk looking for a patrol car, one finally showed up. Thankfully, I reported him and took him to the crime scene. “Drunks or fools,” he muttered, shaking his head. “But it’s Ramadan!” And at 5:30 in the morning? I protested.

“Look, this is not my patrol area. Let me call the officer assigned to this district. I just answered a radio call,” he offered as I watched helplessly. Every minute I waited put more distance between the authors and me. “I don’t care. I want you to catch whoever did this and lock him up. It’s criminal, a hit and run in every sense of the word. There are laws against this type of bull my words flowing vigorously aggravated by my loss of reason that morning.

“Do you know which car hit yours? he asked apologetically. I told him that all I could see was a small vehicle, light beige in color. But then, as we were examining some of the debris from the damage, a Hyundai emblem was found. Satisfied that we had at least identified the make of the car, he called it. At that time, the officer assigned to my district introduced himself and after a few minutes of briefing, he went in search of the vehicle. We didn’t all think it could have gone far, as there was a pool of radiator fluid in the street.

As I sat there waiting, another patrol car pulled up and started writing the incident report. They asked me for my driver’s license which I had to get from inside, for reasons I still don’t understand. After writing down the details, he asked me to sign the report, which I did.

About thirty minutes later, the second patrol car returned, and lo and behold, there was the assailant, sitting handcuffed in the back seat. And what does the attacker do? The first thing he gets out of the car? He approaches me, apologizes and asks for forgiveness!

Long story short, we all meet at the district traffic station that morning where more reports were filed before he was taken to the dungeon, awaiting the appearance of his godfather. In the meantime, I was asked to prepare a request for damage repair assessment to be forwarded to the sponsor and to seek forgiveness in my heart.

But that was not all. Earlier in the evening before this incident happened, a resident ran into me with his Mercedes. He apologized and allowed me to use his cell phone to report him and watch for a patrol car.

After waiting a while, he told me he was going to park his car to allow access for traffic, and before my eyes he just drove away. His gesture was so blatant that I stood there, stunned. But not before taking a look at the license plate of the vanishing vehicle.

And so dear readers, if you come across a blue-silver Mercedes with 99X YXX license plates, let me know right away. This guy I want! Vengeance will be mine. All my forgiveness for that month had long since evaporated with the exhaust fumes of that Mercedes!

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena

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