So I have to share my driver with the most unlikely of people: My Dad.
Unlikely because a-he’s a man. b- He has a valid driver’s license. c- That means he can drive here. and best of all, d- He already has his “own” driver.
But I wind up having to “share” with my dad because … well… I have no idea why. His excuse is that he has his own guy doing other stuff. I usually don’t mind if I’m spending the day at work or something. But when it starts affecting me, like when my driver starts acting like I’m overworking him if I want to go out on a Thursday night…. or when I find out my dad is going out on a Friday with MY driver when it’s both drivers’ day off…. I get ticked. He can drive if he chooses to. Yes Jeddah traffic is a nightmare but if he chose to do it no one will stop him! So why does he pull my driver into work on his day off because his driver “goes to bed early”??!! Seriously?! And here I am stuck at home all day, when a simple “because I feel like it” seems to be a good enough reason to ask a man to work on his day off.
If the driver gets tired or burned out and quits, it’s no skin off his back, he could still drive. I’ll be the one who suffers the consequences of his actions. So I did the only thing I could in this situation. I told my dad “He’s MY driver, take your own!”.
Yes, I’m aware of how “mature” I sound, and I’m also aware of how spoiled my dad sounds. In his defense, he’s a horrible driver and sometimes takes meds that could affect his driving abilities. So better safe than sorry. I still wish he’d respect the boundaries of who’s assigned to who. Especially since I get complaints if I make use of his driver. Oh well…. #saudigirlproblems
… Unless they’re traveling.
If you’ve lived in Saudi for any length of time you will have noticed that anyone who can will rush to the airport as soon as there are a few days off, even a day or two earlier. It’s not because we can’t do with our London/Paris/Nyc/Cairo/Beirut/Dubai/Istanbul visits, (well, it is but that’s not all) It’s because on holidays, most women and families are driver-less, hence stuck at home unless the dad/husband/driving age brother feels like some family time and takes everyone out for a walk on the corniche or around the mall.
It gets even worse when the holiday is attached to the weekend. As if it’s not enough that 50% of my weekend (Fridays) is unplan-able unless its within walking distance or I manage to sort out some other driver. This year, al Adha Eid happened to start on a Saturday. This made for two consecutive stuck-at-home days. No wheels, no friends, no errands, no plans. (In truth we went out for a family brunch on Sat, but you get what I mean).
I’m not advocating making drivers work on holidays, on the contrary I’m all for fair working hours and good holidays. I just don’t see why that should come at the expense of my own rights. Why should my freedom of movement mean someone else’s enslavement? Because let’s face it, that’s what it really is if you expect 18hr workdays and no weekends or holidays. No wonder so many Saudis travel. What all the above cities have in common is that you can just walk out and go to a cafe and see people. Or take taxis and metros and trains and other modes of public transportation. I don’t know about you but the taboo on taxis still stands in my family. And I’ve heard some weird stories about these companies that you hire for individual rides (won’t name names, but one guy started calling my friend on her phone and harassing her, and she had hired him via an app!).
I know some people (hopefully none of you) will say “well big deal, stay at home for a day or two”, but no thanks, I’d rather my lazy couch-potato, anti-social days be self-imposed and not mandatory.
It’s just that I’ve gotten better at ignoring them, I guess. But I do apologize for neglecting this blog, and internalizing all my random stories and adventures in the backseat driving world. I’ll try to be more regular.
I did embark (with a friend) on an attempt to collect stories like mine that relate to drivers and package them in a nice book cover that would serve as entertainment for future generations. But that’s been put on hold for a little while. Turns out collecting and editing stories is not as easy as a job as I first imagined. Maybe I’ll hire a ghost writer! But if you’re interested in contributing your story, in both Arabic or English, the check out the Driving Me Crazy in KSA facebook page. There you will find instructions on how to participate and will be kept up to date with the development of our admittedly sluggish process.
BUT I’m back! And so are my stories. Stay tuned!