When we first moved here I made friends with a group of women who had "coffee socials" every week. The first time I went - I'd been here all of a month! - and I wore jeans and a black tee-shirt with flat, black sandals. [No, I will never forget what I had on that day.] Whoops! My mistake. The other six or seven women were all dressed up like they were going somewhere special. Not dressy dressed, but skirts and heels. We sat around for two hours and just chatted and enjoyed coffee and baked goods. The woman that hosted this particular "coffee social" had made scones and muffins and little apple-pie tarts - all before nine o'clock that morning - and then someone else brought banana bread and someone else brought croissants and someone else brought whatever. Eight women, total. Enough food for forty. Okay. Fine... I am a pretty fast learner and the next time I was invited I put on black slacks and heels - my wearing jeans that first time was so faux pas. Oh, and I also took little miniature blueberry muffins. Why we all had to bake and bring something for just a small handful of us is still beyond me, but protocol is protocol. I was only an invitee to these little "coffee socials" for five or six times. Probably because I didn't host one - and that, too, is part of the protocol. I just am not a "let's get together for coffee" kind of gal. I remain friends with several of these women, but I am no longer on the "invite list" for the "coffee socials." Which is fine by me...
As I was getting ready for my morning out - standing in my closet, contemplating what I wanted to wear - it became obvious to me that I was going to have only one choice. Why? Because I couldn't quite get myself in a pair of slacks - not the khakis, or the brown ones. Literally. I could not. Arrghh! [That one hour on the treadmill is not only now, after the treats this morning, all for naught, but apparently it did absolutely nothing for me yesterday!]. So, I had no choice but to settle for a pair of jeans which I dressed up with really cute boots and a nice button down shirt - I even did my hair - the whole nine yards, so that at least I could look like I purposely got dressed this way instead of just putting jeans on and heading out of the house. I carried my abeya - I was, after all, leaving our compound and you just never know if you are going to need it. I didn't wear it. The woman that invited me and arranged for our driver picked me up and what did she have on? A skirt with a dressy tunic top and heels. I didn't say a word. Why call attention to myself that way. No matter.
We got to where we were going and all of the women were doing what women at these little soirees do - milling in little groups, chatting, mixing and gathering. It was all very nice. I will go back again - I not only met several women that do not live on our compound, but met a few that do live on our compound that I've seen at other functions or while working at my former volunteer stint - and now I know their names! Only two or three other women there had jeans on. Most were more dressed - as in dressed, dressed. There is actually a reason for this. It is easy to live in jeans - or in my case, bike shorts or capri leggings and a tank top or t-shirt. What is the point of really "getting dressed" if you don't have anywhere to go? Getting out and gathering in a group like we did this morning is a reason to get dressed - you are going somewhere. And, like I said, my intention was to wear a pair of slacks - and when I lose ten pounds from using the treadmill - I WILL wear those slacks!
One of the other women there that had jeans on had a long sleeved t-shirt on, and over her long sleeve t-shirt she had a "political" t-shirt on - the layered look. Call me whatever you want [nicely, though - I am still moderating comments], but I found myself actually wanting to - successfully, I might add - avoid whatever little group of women she mingled and chatted with. Avoided. Her. Totally. It would have been more than I could have taken to have to "chit chat" with her and I would have had to bite my tongue [hard!] not to say the things I really would have wanted or liked to have said to her. No point in she and I even conversing. Not even about the weather. Obviously, just from her apparel, we have absolutely NOTHING in common! No. I didn't even bother to get to know her name. No clue who she is. [I'll remember her hair, though, so if she lives here I'll be able to recall...]
Not to be catty or anything - well, okay, maybe just a little bit catty - but it is over. More importantly the shirt was totally out of place and inappropriate. Let me assure you that I think it would be just as out of place and inappropriate to wear a "Palin 2012" t-shirt. So I'm not just ragging on the shirt she was wearing because I happen to vehemently dislike the man whose name was printed across the front of it. I cannot go into more detail about the who's, whats, whens and wheres as far as what I mean by totally out of place and inappropriate. If she was at a friend's house - with just her circle of friends - it would have been fine. And if she was at a friend's house - with just her circle of friends - I probably wouldn't have been invited to begin with. Like-minded people tend to socialize together - no matter what walk of life... And I can assure you that I would not choose to [and don't] associate with a group that was that like-minded.
We left the "coffee social" and were in the car on our way back to our compound and the traffic was the worst it has ever been at eleven o'clock in the morning. I don't recall traffic ever being so backed up and busy at that time in all my years of going downtown. Then we heard the sirens. Ut-ohh. That's why there is so much traffic and we're so backed up. Accident. The sirens became much more frequent and you could tell that there were all sorts of emergency vehicles converging at some point in the distance. As a police car was making its way through the gnarled mess of traffic to get to where he needed to get - the poor man had to inch along - what should have been three lanes of traffic with a break down lane on each side for him to traverse through - wasn't. [Breakdown lanes in the Sandbox mean extra passing lanes! Those lines painted on the road - solid yellow lines - they mean absolutely nothing, here.] So there were at least five, and probably six lanes of traffic that the police car had to maze through to get to the "action." It took us a good half hour, if not longer, to get to where the "action" had taken place.
As much as it may sound like I make light of the "road carnage," here in the Sandbox, it is actually quite serious. I do satirize it - because I do not feel as though the authorities, who could put an end to it, do much of anything about it - and because the men here - yes, the men! - women aren't allowed to drive, remember? - use their vehicles as road weapons. They do... They go as fast as they want with no regard to speed limits. They pass wherever and whoever they want with no regard to whether they are in a "real" lane or not. They drive like maniacs. Yes, they really do. Many - and by many, I mean a majority - of the "local" drivers are the worst and rudest drivers I have ever encountered in my entire life. Before anyone wants to say, "Locals are not the only bad and rude drivers," let me state that I agree that they are not. The difference, however, is that the "local" drivers DO NOT get pulled over and ticketed for violating the traffic laws. Ever! Ex-pats? Oh, yeah. Especially the non-Western ex-pats. I know it and everybody here knows it! I have YET to see a Saudi driver get a ticket. And, in all the years that I have been here, I have only seen TWO of them getting pulled over - one of them downtown ended up playing kiss kiss with the traffic police - and I doubt very much he got a ticket. The other was on our compound - he did get a ticket - and yelling at our compound security and getting on his phone to call someone to get him out of it didn't help him one single bit. [Ha!] So, don't even bother with the "you are so biased why do you even live there crap." I don't want to hear it.
The accident we came upon - with the ambulance and three police cars... involved two vehicles. A flatbed semi-truck with an Indian-looking man that might have been the driver? I do not think he was hurt. He was walking [he was being "escorted"] with a policeman flanking him on each side. So, because he wasn't in the ambulance and was erect, on his own two feet, I think he was "physically" alright. Probably a bit shaken up by the whole experience - yeah - an understatement, that! It looked to me, as our car inched past the wreckage, that he was about to get arrested. I really hope I am wrong. The other vehicle? I didn't get a good enough look at the back-end of it to say whether it was a Toyota Camry or a BMW - I was too shocked and startled by what the front-end looked like to pay attention to the back-end. I cannot tell you anything about the man that was driving that car. [I know it was a man, though!] I can tell you that I'm pretty sure he is not alright. And, again, let me say, I really hope I am wrong. [It may or may not be in one of our newspapers tomorrow - if it is, I'll post the article.]
Have you ever seen what happens to the windshield [and front-end] of a vehicle that SLAMS into the back-end of a flatbed semi-truck? No? Yeah. I hadn't, either. Until this morning. It is not pretty. A car - and I don't care what kind of car you have - doesn't stand much of a chance against a flatbed semi-truck. Nope. It sure doesn't. The front end of the car was compacted and mangled so badly that you would never have guessed or known that it was even a car. And the windshield? What windshield! Part of the flatbed was in the car where there were, originally, two front seats and headrests. That the ambulance was sitting there says one of two things, to me. Either two ambulances [more? if there were passengers in the car] were sent to the scene - one for each vehicle or passenger - and that the ambulances for the injured party or parties had already raced off to seek medical care for their occupants. Or, that the man driving the car who hit the flat-bed semi truck was in the ambulance and that the ambulance had no reason to urgently get to an emergency room or medical facility. I find it highly unlikely that the man driving the car could have survived the accident. I would find it highly unlikely that any front-seat passenger in that car could have survived the accident.
How did the accident happen? No idea. I am not an vehicular accident forensics reconstruction expert. I am only guessing, but I doubt very much that the semi-truck was driving down the highway in reverse and collided with the man driving the car. More likely my guess would be that the semi-truck wasn't going fast enough - or something - and that the man driving the car decided to pass him and as he sped up to get by realized that there was a driver in the lane on his left and that he had no where to go and couldn't stop fast enough. Was the semi-truck just stopped on the highway - and the driver of the car plowed - and I do mean PLOWED! - into him? Honestly, I just do not know how it is that you could drive into the back-end of a flatbed semi-truck that way. The driver of the car had to be m o v i n g - and fast - in order for to do what he did to his car.
Why do I think that the man being escorted by the police was arrested? Because in this country if you rear-end someone you are not automatically at fault. In the States - or at least in certain states, New Hampshire being one of them, and I don't remember if North Carolina is one or not - if you rear-end someone, you are automatically at fault. Doesn't matter if the car [or flatbed semi-truck] stops abruptly directly in front of you and there is nothing you can do - you hit someone from behind - your fault. Here? Doesn't work like that. The police - or some authoritative figurehead - decides how much at fault you were in the accident. How much at fault was the man driving the truck? Well, that probably all just depends on who it was that was driving the car that collided with the flatbed semi-truck... Could the man who was driving the truck be thrown in jail for an accident that he may have had absolutely nothing to do with? Oh yeah, he could. You betcha!