We have had a few interesting experiences in the past few weeks and they all have involved local Saudi Arabian young men.
Before I get too far into this, let me just preface this. We have met many of wonderful people here in Saudi Arabia and the following stories are in no way a generalization of all young men. These are just a few experiences we have had.
First, have you heard of the new crazy called “sidewalk skiing”? No? Check out the link below.
After having been a driver here in Saudi Arabia for over 6 months, I can say, “this doesn’t surprise me.” Driving over here is crazy.
Driving is the #1 killer of young men between ages 16 to 36 in Saudi Arabia. One of the favorite things to do is use the shoulder of the road as a primary driving lane. So on a 3 lane highway, you will easily have 5 lanes of traffic because both shoulders are being utilized for traffic. Those driving on the shoulders are usually traveling at a high rate of speed and if someone flicks their headlights at you, you are supposed to get out of their way.
The other day I was passing traffic in the left lane and a car was approaching behind me on the left hand shoulder, I couldn’t get out of his way. He was flicking his headlights at me, but there was nowhere for me to go. Eventually he got around me on the shoulder and gave me a dirty look. Once he was in front of me he popped me the finger. This was the first time I’ve seen someone here pop the finger, it was quite a surprise to me and my buddies riding along.
Then later that week, once again on the perilous journey home, we (myself and 3 coworkers) were stopped at a red light waiting to make a left hand turn. I was in the left turning lane and all of the sudden heard a loud noise that sounded like something hit my car. We all looked around and couldn’t see anything other than the car full of boys on our right looked quite guilty. I rolled down the passenger side window and yelled out, “what did you throw?” to the driver. He motioned that it was someone in another vehicle on the other side of them. I didn’t believe them. The light turned green and we turned left, the SUV full of teenagers did the same. As we approached the next light, I told the guys in my car that if the light’s red I was going to get out and make sure the car was ok. The light was red and the SUV full of teenagers stopped right beside us. I quickly hopped out of my car and walked around to the other side only to find soda splashed all over the side of my car. It then became apparent that one of those boys threw a can of soda over their SUV and it landed on the ground exploding all over the place. The light was still red so as I returned to my side of the vehicle I walked up to the SUV full of teenagers and knocked on their passenger side window. The front passenger couldn’t figure out how to open the window so he had the driver lower the window. I stuck my head in and asked “who through the soda?” They all spoke to themselves in Arabic as though they did not understand what I said, so I turned up what my sister would call the daddy voice and repeated myself. After a few seconds one of the young men from the backseat said in PERFECT ENGLISH, “I’m sorry sir.” I said, “Thank you” and hopped back in my car. The funniest part of the whole thing, as we drove away the passenger in the front seat was giving the guys in the back seat the riot act. He apparently didn’t like their behavior of throwing things out the window.
Kelsie mentioned in a previous blog post about our trip to Bahrain for her birthday. Part of the wonderfulness of the trip was she got to go shopping late in the evening and I just stayed in the hotel room while the children slept. I had spent most of the day pushing the stroller around the mall while Kelsie and our friend shopped and I had already mentioned to them how fun it was to walk a few steps behind and watch random Saudi guys staring at the beautiful blonde women, as they are both beautiful blonde American women. Apparently as the even progressed the staring turned into cat calls. Now, they were perfectly safe in the mall and we weren’t concerned for their safety, but Kelsie had never really experienced something like this before. One guy even made “kissy” faces at them as they approached. We have heard from other people that the guys are all talk and if you were to challenge them on their advances they’d get scared like deer in the headlights. One person even mentioned learning the phrase, “I thought you were Muslim?” in Arabic to ask them.
Oh, the adventures of living overseas.