Friday, September 29, 2006

A Woman in the Driver's Seat

Okay, so, here in The Sandbox, women aren’t usually in the driver’s seat – it’s no secret that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive… It’s an issue which has been deliberated over and over and over amongst the powers that be – for longer than the four years I've been here – and one which seemingly never progresses beyond the “No Can Do” stage.

There is not another country in the world where women are not allowed to drive. [See my earlier post, Driving Ban for Saudi Men.] We are but a hop, skip and a jump from a neighboring country – a twenty-mile, hour plus, two customs-check jaunt across the Causeway – where women are allowed to drive – and, according to Bahrain's Traffic Chief, where “Saudi women are safe drivers.”

Somewhat worrisome is the aspect of women driving in this Country whilst covered in a full hijab that might ultimately hinder peripheral vision; and in that regard, an acceptable alternative which recognizes the importance of the social customs would be required. All minutiae details which no doubt can be ironed out in the next century or so…

Let’s forego all of those superfluous factors for the sake of time – my lifetime – pretend this will all fall into place, that women will be allowed to drive, and that they can even buy their own vehicle!

… she’ll proceed to the car dealership where she will choose the vehicle she wants…

And decide on some of the options she wants her Red BMW 745i to have…

[Where did that come from? I want a white BMW 745i!]

Like a speedometer…

And a GPS parking system…

Finally, she will head to the nearest “DMV” office to get her driver’s license. She will be exempt from having to parallel park – or park at all – for that matter – because everybody knows that women are so much better at parking a car than men are; thus it would be quite futile insisting that women must take the parking portion of any driver’s test. [Go ahead... You know you want to... Just “click” on parking. It is way too fun not to!]

Know what? Really I just wanted to have some fun tonight, show off my new “link and picture posting skills,” to create an opportunity to use a couple of photos that a friend sent me [thanks, Susan!], and to use the
parking thingy. And just because I hit a car within four seconds on this stupid parking thingy site, doesn’t mean that I can’t park a car! Au contraire! I can put our truck into the smallest of spaces quickly and professionally; a feat I am rather proud of and no less proud after having watched men, here, park.

True story: A couple of years ago, I was outside at the mall, waiting to catch the bus back to our compound, when a car full of shabaab* pulled up and the driver lamely attempted no less than a half dozen times to park his little Honda or Toyota in the bus pick up area. On the sixth or seventh, and last stab at doing so, the driver gave up and parked his car with the entire ass-end of it literally sticking out in to the traffic lane. Just as he was getting out of the car, I took a partial step – lunge – forward, as I was going to offer to show the poor lad how to park a car. It took only that brief second when I came to my senses, realizing where I was – ahh, no – I don’t think so… Um-hmm. A blonde moment there! Caught and preserved however, as I did not finish the “first step forward” and instead of saying anything, just chuckled under my breath that the parking space truly had enough room for three or four vehicles and he couldn’t get his car into the space with five minutes of trying. The bus came shortly this little performance of deft automotive skill and I’d be willing to wager a Riyal or two that no traffic officer placed a violation ticket for parking in a no parking spot on the windshield…

*shabaab - Arabic word for "young men"


  1. The Sandbox !

    with sincere best wishes to you and your fine Pilot in SA...

    love this post and the blog.

    amazing, women are not allowed to drive, and yet here in the USA, some liberals feel the need to enable this folly.

  2. HNAV - Why thank you, thank you, thank you! Or, in Arabic, Shukran jazeelan! [Which translated is actually thank you very much; "shukran" alone is "thank you."] New visitors are ALWAYS welcome!!! Oh, and by the way, as you've probably discovered, I'm enjoying your blog as well.


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