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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Sunday, April 27, 2008  
    Just got back from my walk to Jounieh.
    Because it was late I didn’t call my usual nighttime taxi driver even though he’s very reliable and is on-call twenty four hours a day.
    I don’t usually call Lebanese taxi drivers because they’re notoriously unreliable and unpunctual but I discovered the only reliable taxi driver in Lebanon about two months ago.
    So I decided to try another taxi driver I encounter on my late-night walks who, like every other taxi driver, is always shoving his phone number at me and urging me call him at any time because he’s so reliable blah-blah-blah.
    I called him and came to the conclusion that this barbarian shouldn’t even have a phone let alone use it for business purposes – it took him quite some time to realize that instead of shouting into the phone like a savage he should just put down the f***ing volume of the music that was blaring in the background, if he was in the car, or step out of the strip club he was probably in if he wasn’t in the car.
    He finally told me that he couldn’t pick me up because he was in Beirut.
    ‘’Tomorrow’’ he said.
    Yeah, that’s great – I’ll just stand around on the street for twenty four hours waiting for him until tomorrow.
    I told him that I wouldn’t be calling him tomorrow or any other day for that matter and that the country was full of taxis.
    Next up I called a taxi company that a relative had recently recommended to me.
    After haggling over the price with the philistine who answered the phone (even though their brochure clearly listed the price) I told him that I wished to be picked up at such and such a place in forty minutes time.
    It takes me about thirty five minutes to get to the bottom of the hill but I usually factor in five minutes of extras, sundries.
    Not good enough for this bloke – he asked me for an actual time that I wanted to be picked up at even though I’d clearly stated that I wanted to be picked up in forty minutes time.
    So I did the maths for him.
    ‘’Okay’’ I said ‘’ what’s the time now?’’
    Even though I knew what the time was, I wanted to make sure that this philistine did because I had my doubts that he could even tell the time.
    Justifiably so – ‘’what’s the time guys’’ I heard him yelling out.
    Obviously time is important to him but not so important that he’d do something drastic…like wear a watch!
    After his extensive consultations (with guys not just one single solitary measly guy), he reported back to me ‘’it’s three o’clock’’.
    ‘’No it isn’t I replied, it’s 3.15’’ (or maybe Big Ben and my watch are fifteen minutes fast because I set my time by the BBC World Service).
    If time is so important to him shouldn’t he actually know the correct time?
    ‘’So please have a taxi waiting for me at 3.50’’ (when the big hand is at three and the small hand is at fifty…).
    Like clockwork, I was at the bottom of the hill at 3.50 and, as I suspected, the taxi wasn’t.
    Surprise, surprise!
    Even though I gave up waiting for Lebanese a long time ago, I waited fifteen minutes just to be correct.
    I also couldn’t be bothered walking an extra ten minutes or so into Jounieh or possibly even further.
    I can understand why the operator wanted an exact time from me – Lebanese are getting more ‘’punctual’’.
    He wanted an exact time at which to stand me up and keep me waiting at.
    Not for him is standing up or keeping a person waiting at an approximate time like most Lebanese, say fourish in this instance.
    No, he wanted the exact time at which to stand me up.
    He wanted to stand me up ‘’punctually’’.
    So I walked into Jounieh proper and got a taxi from there.

    4:45 am

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