To comprehend the happenings of this post you have to have read it’s prologue. Its predecessor was merely an outlet for my frustrations, this part is similar but has the added bonus of being an educational tool to any Jordanian driver out there who might, God forbid, go through something like this, which has a high likelihood of happening in Jordan.
So this story begins where the previous one ended: parents in a car accident, thankfully safe and sound. An unrelenting group of stubborn policemen who insist my father is to blame for the accident. The missing culprit: a galab. And an Egyptian worker with a beat up leg in the hospital.
In case you don’t know, there’s nothing worse than having an accident than the events that come right after it: tomorrow.
After heading to our insurance company, which apparently closes Fridays and Saturdays because no accidents occur on those days, we headed to the police station where our car was kept. Since we technically hit a guy and since the report says we were to blame, I had to act as my father’s bondsman. The next step is to go to the courthouse.
The North Amman courthouse is a disaster. It’s near Abu-Alanda where the UNRWA base is. Of course like all government buildings it is located in the middle of a neighborhood that is both commercial and residential, in other words: where they can inflict the most chaos, traffic and inefficiency possible.
After waiting for almost an hour we’re told to come into the “judges chambers”. Let me explain what this looks like without the art: picture a long wide hallway with a small room every 1 meter, where a judge and a secretary sit behind the desk. Usually they’ll press a button and a little red light will shine above the door and the bell will go off to indicate that, hey, this room is ready for the next person. Naturally the button is pressed and the bell gets stuck for 5 minutes of ringing.
The judge in a very coarse manner tells my parents to swear on the Quran and thus give their testimony of what they recall from the accident. He then asks about the Egyptian. Where is he? He’s in the hospital. Well why didn’t you bring him? We didn’t know we were responsible for doing that. Then what the heck are you hear for, why have you come without anything to offer? Well your honor this is our first time and we’ve never had any experience with this sort of thing. So why have you come here then, to learn?
So it turns out that I cannot be my father’s bondsman without first getting the approval of the Egyptian. If we don’t get that permission then the bond is broken and my father goes to jail until the hearing. So I have to rush back to the hospital to get the Egyptian to write one sentence and sign it, as well as a paper from the hospital saying he is currently a patient there and cannot leave.
Aware of the consequences of not getting this paper I drove like a mad man. To make matters worse I only had two hours because then the judge has to go home and that means the file is closed for 8 days of which my father will spend in a jail cell. To be honest at this point I was only a little worried because I knew we could probably convince them to take me, his son, to Jwaida as they often do that. And also I figured one piece of paper in two hours was no biggie.
Even with all the rain and traffic that day.
Let me tell you about the International Hospital in Amman.
Just so you know: I am talking about the International Hospital that is up the hill from Cozmos near the 7th Circle. The one with half a maple leaf because they think they’re Canadian.
THE INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL IN AMMAN IS THE WORST PRIVATE HOSPITAL I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. EVEN IF MY LIFE DEPENDED ON IT I WOULD RATHER DIE THAN SET FOOT IN THIS CHARADE OF A HOSPITAL THAT PASSES ITSELF OF AS ANYTHING REMOTELY CLOSE TO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALISM. Let these capitalized words serve as a warning to any and all who even think about going there.
First of all it took us 10 minutes to convince the Egyptian of what we were doing. The Egyptian is a Sa3eedi and with all due respect to everyone that might be offended, Sa3eedis are not exactly known for their intelligence. This one was illiterate. What’s worse is he has 5 Sa3eedis around him consulting him, all of them wearing their bright orange street worker clothes.
We go to a doctor who tells us to go to the reception to get the hospital paper. We go to the reception who tell me to go to the administration. What fucking administration?! There’s the Administrator’s office (always closed) and Human Resources. I go into the latter and this is the third time I’m explaining the entire situation to an employee while I’m out of breath. She refuses at first because they think I’m talking about the Egyptian’s approval of the bond. When I explain that all I want from them is a letter saying he’s a patient there since Friday they reluctantly approve.
Can you imagine what one has to go through to get this simple 2 sentence piece of paper?
In fact, two bedoin men were just outside the office and were fighting the secretary to write a very similar letter. Being who they are they just stormed into the administrator’s office to make their demands fulfilled.
HR tells a secretary to type it up. She starts doing that and then a random hospital worker, possibly someone in the administration since it’s hard to tell what anyone’s job is exactly over there, inquires about what’s being typed up and then tells the secretary to stop and tells us we have to get this from his doctor directly.
Let me tell you something here: at this hospital there are no real doctors. All of them work somewhere else and they simply call them in to spend exactly 30 seconds looking at a patient before leaving and earning 100 JDs.
So I go back up to the patient’s floor and beg a doctor to finally write up this letter. She signs it. Now it needs a hospital stamp. Can you comprehend the insignificance of all this?
Where to get the stamp?
The Financial department.
This is code for clown school.
The financial department consists of two rooms. The smaller of which has 80% of the employees all of whom are Barbie doll type young girls who wear too much make up and stink of cheap perfume. You can’t talk to one of them, you have to address the room. All of them have an opinion to give. I call them cheerleaders because they walk, look, dress and talk like them and when they do the latter you find yourself resisting every instinct in your body no to slap the heck out of them. One couch, one desk, one computer; they take turns.
I ask them to stamp it. They tell me they can’t stamp anything until we pay the Egyptian man’s hospital bill which has now reached a staggering 500 JDs after only 2 days and no broken bones and hardly anything that would qualify as an actual doctor’s visit or medical care. They refuse to give me my paper back. I tell them the story with only 20 minutes left on the clock and these unsympathizing, uncompassionate, bloodsucking, soulless creatures tell me flat out that “we don’t care”. They use the Arabic version of those exact words.
Remember where I am right now.
I go back downstairs to see if my sister is carrying that amount of money. She goes back up to perhaps insist on the paper the way she does. She snatches it out of Cheerleader #2’s hands and storms out leaving the locker room in shock.
Screw it. We don’t need a stamp.
On the back I write one sentence for the Egyptian to sign but he needs more convincing. While my mother and I try and do exactly that Cheerleader #2 and the whole squad of 4 march into the room and ask my sister to see the paper, she refuses at first but thinks maybe they’ve changed their minds since they just want to “see it”. Cheerleader #2 steals it and they all run back to the locker room with my sister chasing after them. Now here’s the thing, my sister in terms of her voice and soul has the strength of 10 men, but for the first time she may have been rendered powerless due to our time constraints. The cheerleaders had won. They even took pleasure in screaming at my sister.
So we went down to the administrator’s office. 10 minutes left on the clock. We explain the whole story again. The administrator pretends to scold the cheerleaders on the phone but she has the look, walk and talk of an older cheerleader herself, so in all likelihood nothing came of that. “Well you know, these are arabs”, she tells us sympathetically. For a moment I thought maybe she had a point.
It should be noted here, if not reiterated, that I was born and raised in Canada. Spent just over half my life there. I say this because this hospital claims to have international, specifically Canadian ties. I can never fathom that a gang of accountants or hospital workers would ever yell at the relative of a patient or a citizen, let alone gang up on one. I know what they say about accountants but I know some of them do happen to have souls. And I know that none of these girls would have spent another hour there without being fired.
I’ll rant more about this sorry excuse for a hospital in part III.
We write up another paper because the cheerleaders ripped up the first. We get the Egyptian to sign and we take off to the courthouse.
The day’s work is done.
The tow truck takes the car to the shop. Of course you need to pay the truck that brought it to the station and the one that takes it away. 20 JDs each.
We go back to the hospital because we promised the Egyptian we would. More people are with him now, my father is retelling the accident one more time. See when you get into an accident in Amman it’s almost impossible to forget it or its details because you’ll have to tell it 1,000 times to everyone from a relative to a friend to a cop to the visiting relatives of the patient in the bed that is next to the Egyptians’ who are not only eavesdropping but have taken a seat next to you and joined in on the conversation.
Everyone is telling the worker about what needs to be done. This Egyptian has a friend with him who was near the accident when it happened. By the way, one of the main reasons the police report says there was no galab is because both these guys say they saw nothing when in fact, during the ambulance ride they were talking non stop about the galab. But since the driver took off the only person they can hold accountable for any type of payment is my father. Hence when the cops came around the galab disappeared completely from their story.
In the end we all agree on the following: the Egyptian will leave the hospital the next day so we can go to the courthouse, have him give his testimony to the judge and tell him he does not want to file a complaint against my father: the translation for this process is called waiving or forfeiting one’s rights. After that, we have to attend an official hearing later on in the week after the Egyptian gets his full medical report back. Once that’s all done the insurance takes care of all the costs.
So we agree and go home.
They call us up at 9pm and we go back to the hospital. The worker’s older brother has shown up and now we have to retell the story and do the whole deal over again.
The thing is with these people is that they will agree with you and nod their heads and say things like “of course” and “6ab3an (naturally)” and so on and so forth, and even insist that what you’re saying is correct, repeating your very words with such passionate intensity as if they couldn’t agree more; as if these were their own words, thoughts and convictions. And when you leave for 2 minutes you return to find them in a football huddle whispering. Beware. In actuality they are testing your limits, to see how far you can stretch before breaking. If you’re too easy going you may be an easy target.
The Egyptian’s main friend who had been following us all around and doing most of the talking on his behalf, had first come to me moments after I arrived at the hospital on Friday to see my parents and asked me to give them 200 JDs and they would forget that anything happened. Instead I told them to get x-rays and spend a night at the hospital. At least these were things we could pay for and get a receipt for the insurance to reimburse.
Anyways, after his friend and his brother and his cousin and his son all agreed, we told them we’d come back at 930am to pay the bills and take the worker to the courthouse.
Everything was good. But the next day is another story to tell…