We all ended up at the district traffic station that morning where more reports were filed Image Credit: Lucian Alexe

The menacing screeching of a vehicle going fast woke me up early one predawn morning last week. I had barely made it into Stage 1 of my sleep when the screech was followed by an ominous crash of metal against metal.

Peering through blurry eyes and an equally blurred bedroom window on that humid early morning, I could make out the wreckage of a small import entangled with the front fender of my 4-wheel drive. I also noticed two or three men working feverishly to separate the two vehicles.

Slapping a T-shirt on and in my pajama bottoms, I stumbled down the stairs and to the front gate to investigate, confront, and at that stage, kill if I had to. Sleep deprivation plays havoc on one’s sense of rationale.

Barely had I opened the front gate doors when I saw the offending vehicle pulling off and speeding away. Running barefoot halfway down the street strewn with broken glass plastic jolted me up enough to realise it wouldn’t do any good. And taking off after them in my 4-wheeler before the law got there wouldn’t help either. After all, I may be victimised as having done someone in with the damaged front end!

And so, I did the next best thing. I called 911 to report this incident. After several frustrating moments, 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 sending him the location, he told me that a patrol car would be showing up and hung up.

An early Ramadan mishap

Some twenty minutes later as I cruised up and down the sidewalk in my bare feet looking for a patrol car, one finally showed up. Gratefully I flagged him down and took him to the scene of the crime. “Drunks or dopeheads”, 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 up the officer assigned to this district. I just responded to a radio call,” he volunteered as I looked on helplessly. Every minute I waited put more distance between the perpetrators and me. “I don’t care. I want you to catch whoever did this and box him in. This is criminal, a hit and run in every sense of the word. There are laws against this type of bull!” my words flowing vigorously compounded by my loss of rationale that early morning.

“Do you know what car it was that hit yours?” he asked apologetically. I told him all I could see was a small vehicle, light tan in colour. But then as we sifted through some of the debris by the damage, an emblem of a Hyundai was found. Satisfied that we had at least identified the make of the car, he called it in. By then the officer assigned to my district showed up and after a few minutes of briefing he took off in search of the vehicle. We all did not think it could have gone far, as there was a pool of radiator fluid on the street.

As I sat there waiting, another patrol car pulled up and started making up the report of the incident. They asked for my driver licence which I had to get from inside, for reasons I still don’t understand. After jotting down the particulars, 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 perpetrator, sitting cuffed in the back seat. And what does the perpetrator do? The first thing as he is led out of the car? He walks over to me and apologises and asks for forgiveness!

To make a long story short, we all end up at the district traffic station that morning where more reports were filed before he was led to the lock-up, awaiting his sponsor’s appearance. I was asked meanwhile to prepare a damage repair assessment claim to forward to the sponsor, and to search for forgiveness in my heart.

But that was not all. Just earlier that evening before this incident had happened, a local backed into me with his Mercedes. He was very apologetic and allowed me to use his mobile phone to report it in and look out for the appearance of a patrol car.

After waiting a while, he told me he was going to pull his car over to allow traffic access, and before my very eyes, he just pulled off and away. So blatant was his move that I just stood there dumbfounded. But not before I glanced at the license plate of the disappearing vehicle.

And so dear readers, if you happen to run into a blue-silver Mercedes with license plates 99X YXX, please let me know right away. This guy I want! Vengeance shall be mine. All my forgiveness for this month had long evaporated along with the exhaust fumes of that Mercedes!

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