Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Trip to the Clink

Well, we knew it had to happen at some point ... a trip to the police station.  A friend and I decided to head downtown for lunch and stopped at this nice little cafe outside one of the markets. We ordered our lunch and had a wonderful time. When the bill came, we both put in some money and left it on the table and walked away. Well, apparently, that's not allowed here in Abu Dhabi even though we had left enough for the meal and a decent tip. We got about a block away from the cafe when 2 of the waiters came running after us screaming bloody murder in Arabic. For a moment, we thought they were after someone else, but they stopped in front of us, grabbed both our arms and starting hauling us back to the restaurant! I can't even tell you how scared we were - we couldn't figure out what the problem was. And embarrassing!! This was a pretty busy street so everyone stopped to watch the 2 western women being dragged away by these waiters.

They took us to the kitchen area of the cafe, which helped a little - at least we weren't still out on the street! The owner (we guess anyway) was a cranky older man who was yelling at us in a mix of Arabic and English. The only words we could understand were thief and no pay. We tried to remain calm and I quietly said that we only speak English and could he speak slowly. Eventually, we got the gist of the issue - they were convinced we left the cafe without paying for our food. We tried over and over to explain that we had left our money in the folder on the table, but they wouldn't listen. After some "discussing" (we tried really hard not to get frustrated or raise our voices as we didn't want to upset anyone more than they already were) a police officer arrived at the cafe.

The policeman spoke better English, so we were able to better explain what had happened. His first response was "why did you leave the table before they picked up your money?" Well, we didn't have a good answer for that, but tried to explain that that wasn't unusual in the states. The owner was still very upset and kept insisting that we be arrested. As things went from bad to worse, we offered to pay (again) for our meals, which we did, but the owner still wanted us to be arrested! After more "discussing" the policeman finally told us we would have to come with him to the station. WHAT?! All I could think of was how on earth I was going to explain this one to Brian!!

Well, the good news is that once we got in the police car (most humiliating experience ever - I felt like a complete idiot and criminal to boot!) the policeman told us he wasn't going to take us to the station, but would drive us away so the owner would be mollified. He ended up taking us a few streets over where we were out of sight of the cafe and could catch a bus home. (whew!) He was actually really nice about it and explained that in the future, we should make sure the waiter has taken our money before we get up to leave a restaurant. (yeah, like either of us will forget that any time soon!!)

So, I didn't have to call Brian to bail me out after all, thank God! And, I think I'll plan to eat at home for the next few days. :)

(oh, and remember that the date on the blog post doesn't synch up correctly because of the time zone difference? ... It's April 1st already here in Abu Dhabi ... April Fool's! ;)

1 comment:

  1. YOU ARE NAUGHTY!!!!! The only April fools joke I was actually caught on...and I'd like you to believe it was because of the date :) But it was because I could NEVER imagine my wonderful sister-in-law lying so well!! Got me!