Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beware of Road Suprises

I think I've mentioned in previous posts my favorite Abu Dhabi street sign. There's one on the Sheikh Zayed road on the way back from Dubai and it says, "Beware of Road Surprises". Well, today I learned exactly what that sign is talking about.

Three of us were heading to Dubai - the two of them to get their UAE driver's licenses and me to get a Good Conduct certificate from the Dubai Police Department for the security clearance for my new job (more on that in a future post). We were speeding along when all of a sudden a rock or something like it hit the windshield ... and left a nick. (sigh) A pain, but I figured I'd take care of it when I got back to Abu Dhabi (okay, I figured Brian could take care of it when I got back to Abu Dhabi. :)

We all went about our business and on the way home I decided to stop at one of the malls (I was in Dubai after all). The other two had taken a taxi back to AD since they were done well before I was and had appointments to keep. When I got back to my car after shopping, I noticed the nick had turned into a 3 splintered crack (hmmm, that's not good). So I called hubby to let him know and that I was going to call the insurance company. I called the insurance and that's when the fun started.

In the states, something like this would probably be a quick call to those "guys in the little red trucks" who would meet you where you were, fix the car and have you back in business in a hour or two. Yeah, there aren't any 'little red trucks' in Dubai. Instead, my first step was to call the police. In UAE, EVERY incident of damage involving your vehicle needs to be reported to the police. In fact, you can't get ANY body or repair work done on your car without said police report. So, I dialed 999, explained where I was and settled in to wait.

SHORT DIGRESSION: You might remember that it is Ramadan, which means no one is allowed to eat or drink in public (that includes your car parked in the mall parking garage). It was now almost 2pm and I'd had only a granola bar and glass of water for breakfast around 7am so I was STARVING. I actually had planned to try fasting for a day, but hadn't expected it to be today! But that's kinda what happened. I did end up smuggling a Starbuck's iced mocha from the mall (SB was open for carry out only) and hunched down kind of under the passenger seat and sipped it through the paper bag they had given me to carry it in. I know, I wish I had a picture too! :)

So back to the story. I waited about 45 minutes turning the car on and off so I didn't completely sweat through my clothes (thank goodness I was at least in covered parking so it was only about 100 degrees). The police came (lights flashing even) and I explained what happened. After getting a lecture that I should have stopped on the highway and called them directly after it happened, I got my police report and was ready for step #2 ... call the garage suggested to me by the insurance agent.

Got Nole on the phone and tried to figure out if it was safe to drive the car to his garage. By the way, the crack had increased at least 3 inches on each side in the time I was waiting for the police - that extreme heat will do that, I suppose. My options were to call a tow truck (called Roadside recovery here) or drive it to the garage myself. Brian was concerned that a tow truck driver might cause even more damage so he suggested I buy some packing tape, tape both sides of the cracked windshield and drive home slowly. Good thing a) I was already at the mall, b) I don't mind looking like a redneck, and c) I don't mind living dangerously (going slow on Sheikh Zayed road is probably more dangerous than going too fast.) I called Nole back, shared the plan and asked for directions ... he told me to call him when I got closer to Abu Dhabi because, "Madam, I think maybe it's better because you may forget and then have to call me." Yeah, okay ...

The drive back to Abu Dhabi, while embarrassing, was uneventful ... and then I passed that street sign and had to chuckle. Nole directed me to the garage (and I was proud not to have forgotten any of his directions) and then gave me a ride home and promised to call on Saturday to let me know when we can get the car back. Insh' alla. :)

1 comment:

  1. Amazing story, and I could picture you hunkered down slurping that starbucks. Looking forward to hearing about a job that required a Good Conduct note from the police :)