Sorry it's been a while again; I'm still here. I'm just a little busy in the life of my air-breathing alter ego, and TLS has not been able get much attention. Anyway, I will get to the point:
Most of you will have noticed around town, the placement of some parking spaces, often (though sadly, not always) extra-wide, and clearly signed with a special symbol. They are placed close to public buildings and leisure facilities. These idiot storage bays are originally designed to facilitate the easy entrance of people with physical disabilities, to said buildings. However, the short-term idiot storage role is ever more popular. The inability of people to walk more than ten yards to a mall, then several miles around it, is not unique to Oman (or, indeed, to Omanis), but it is a phenomenon that can be well-demonstrated here, at least. In desperate circumstances, unable to find a space immediately adjacent to the building's door, the more self-important idiots often take the short -term storage option for their vehicles, in the disabled parking space.
Now, I've written before about the criminally insane lack of traffic education, regulation and enforcement in Oman and around the region. I'm not alone in that observation, and thought-provoking pieces have appeared recently from two of my favourite co-bloggers, Oman's own Susan al Shahri, and my personal heroine, the extraordinary Saudi writer, Sabria Jawhar. But today I thought I'd home in on this specific issue. Firstly, because it epitomises the culture of self-important, amoral, cretinous, narrow-minded, utter dickishness that pervades the road-user experience (and others), in Oman. But also because it's an issue about which someone has tried to do something, and I'd like to offer some support.
I stumbled upon this link from a friend of my real self, on Facebook. It seems someone is encouraging the public to post pictures of disabled parking-space abusers, and as you'll see when you visit the site, I've found quite a few recently, and shared. The thing is, it's not hard to remember seeing someone parked in a disabled space. But it's not something we always think about. However, keeping your phone on the passenger seat and going for a little drive, it's amazing how many you see in a single day without even trying. I've clocked six, from a couple of brief excursions, just in one day. Essentially that means that most of the disabled parking bays I saw on a given day, were made unavailable to the intended user.
Perhaps it's better that this anonymous Facebook user and his/her public page, are not "naming and shaming" the car owners. The page owner deleted my suggestion that people do just that. Probably worried, and rightly, that writing someone's name on the internet without their permission, and in an accusatory context, might bring about some terrible attempt at retribution. Still, it frustrates me a little, because if enough of us post these pictures, sooner or later we will all recognise a car that belongs to someone we know.
So that brings me neatly to my alternative suggestion: instead of posting the names of the owners of cars you recognise, just tell someone they know. A relative. A mutual friend. Just nonchalantly. Something like "Hey, Abu Shamandar, did you see Abu Koosa's car on the internet? No? You know, that site where they post pictures of people who steal the disabled parking bay. Yeah, seriously, his car's posted up there, I mean, how embarrassing. I didn't want to mention it to him; I mean, someone will have told him, right?"
That way no "private" information is shared. No litigation is likely to result, and nobody will be assassinated on the way to the supermarket (I hope). BUT we live where we live. Imagine it's your car. Imagine, just that one time, you were in a hurry. You didn't want to, but you were late. And you'd only be just two minutes, right? Maybe you even left the engine running and the hazard lights on, right? But it would have been a real pain to park on the other side of the building and walk/use the steps/get hot/whatever, right? And then the next thing you know, your father/brother/uncle/cousin-you-never-liked-because-he's-smug-and-loves-showing-you-up, suddenly shows you a picture of your car on Facebook. In a disabled space. Posted by a complete stranger, who's telling the world that this car must be driven by an "a-hole". Imagine that happened.
Family councils could be convened. Stern words spoken. What if it wasn't even your car, and the owner was getting the bad reputation? Your dad! Your WIFE! Oh man. Definitely going to pay for this one. That's got to be better than a fine of OR7 any day.
The person who's started "No Disability - No Parking" has mentioned that there does not seem to be much interest from the ROP in going after these people, so clearly this campaign needs to take off a bit. And it seems to me that getting as many up there as possible, forwarding this to all your friends, snapping away (when safe to do so of course...ahem!) and posting as often as you can, will help. Most of all, when you finally see a car you know, say something. All innocent-like. "Uncle, I saw your car on Facebook...". This is a society where you don't need to name. Shame can find its own way, with a little help.
Now, please do visit the page (yes I know that's the third time I've linked to it, I'm making a point!), link to it from your own site, Tweet it, Facebook-share it, read it, and contribute to it. In the last few days I've come up with a veritable rogues' gallery all by myself. Imagine if you all did it too?
But in the mean time, some music. OK, not music. Some of idiot-parking's greatest hits, including disabled-bay-theft/idiot storage, but with some other fun driving habits too. Yes, it's outside the main area of discussion, but let's look at some other symptoms of the illness, shall we?
1. The disabled bay "ultimate dick-move". This ass-hat, has not only taken the disabled spot outside SABCO. He's taken both disabled spots. Because, hey, fuck disabled people, I've got a TRUCK! Contender for the annual "Raisin Balls Award"(that I've just invented) for the most un-manly act of social ugliness . Tip: no need. There is no need to explain to anyone why this is a really, really revolting act of assholery.
2. Caught in the act. You can run, but you'd better be quicker than this. Almost escaping the gimlet eye of The Linoleum Surfer. But I got you. Tip: the disabled person who came to park in this spot doesn't know if you're going to be "only five minutes". And even if he did, what's he supposed to do? Wait in the middle of the road to check? No, he has to drive away, unable to get out of his car. You idiot.
3. The "beta blocker". Someone so selfish, so stupid, so utterly devoid of any sense of self-awareness or moral responsibility, they both block the busy road through the Qurm shopping area and block some poor guy's car. But hey, his car is cheap, and yours is a fancy one. It says so on the badge. Pity I missed the full registration as I passed, but hey, someone knows this car...Tip: when you spend a lot of money on ostentatious displays like this, you choose to draw attention to yourself. So would you rather that attention be drawn to your being a good human being, or to your being a dick? Think about it.
4. Is it true that all Porsche owners have small private parts? Oh, no. Maybe it's just this guy. Yes, it's everybody's favourite: the "doubler". The guy who takes two spaces because he thinks his car is worth double the car park average, and therefore he's entitled to be able to walk around it with his arms held out. Maybe muttering "I'm the Pimp-King" to himself as he does so. Of course, to the rest of us, he's a dick. Somebody tell him, please. Pity it's too blurry to see the registration, I should have got that.
Oh, wait. I did. Tip: see 3. And by the way, taking two spaces doesn't stop your car getting scratched. Heck, when I park next to a "doubler", I try to make a point of bashing the door of my steam punk spaceship off his paintwork. And vomiting through his sunroof (try it kids, it's fun!)
5. The budget "doubler". Hey, what if you want to be a dick but don't have a Porsche? Well that's OK, because if you behave badly enough, you can even be a self-important jerk in....er....a Skoda...Tip: see above, plus, don't draw attention to yourself if people are also going to laugh at you.
There, that was fun, wasn't it? So get joining in on those pictures of idiot-self-storage/disabled-bay-stealers, and make sure to forward the fun to your friends. And in the mean time, one more to keep you thinking. Alas, I really didn't get the number of this one - I was clearly trembling too much at the horror of it:
Speeding, no lights (that's my headlight reflecting), and followed a few hundred metres later, by an unnecessary and illegal u-turn. Which involved stopping the traffic on green, as the turn had to take place from the middle lane. Why? Because it's a big articulated truck carrying fifty tons of gasoline!!!! In stealth mode! Drive carefully, I love you all!