The following rant is based on a true story and since complaints often fall on deaf ears in Jordan I thought I would take this specific complaint straight to the virtual masses.
On Friday my parents, coming home to Amman from the Dead Sea, got into a bit of an accident on the airport road. My father was driving at about 60km/h as he so often does, in the center lane. To his left was a galab, which is Jordanian for a big truck, the kind where the wheel is about the height of half of one’s car, as was the case here. The galab decided to go from mid-left lane to the right and while being too close to my father’s car his wheel nudged the back left side of our car enough to send it flying 180 degrees into the concrete ramp that divides the traffic on the airport road, leaving the passenger side of the car wrecked but both my parents, thankfully, otherwise safe, save for a few bumps. The galab, being the size it was, kept going for a bit and then stopped at the side of the road. As people gathered around the car the galab’s driver realized his error and decided to flee.
This is the first complaint. When you hit someone, you should stop.
Our car also happened to hit an Egyptian worker who cleans streets for the city. Luckily and thankfully he was standing in a position that allowed him to be airborne for only a few moments before landing on his leg; no broken bones, just scrapes and bruises.
When the traffic cop came to the scene only moments later my father pointed to the galab who had stopped a little over 100 meters on the side of the road before deciding the flee. The officer said they would catch him.
The secondary officer that came to write up the report, examined the car and decided there was no galab. He decided that the car had hit the Egyptian’s bucket before doing a 180 and then hitting the Egyptian himself several meters away. This means my father was not in the middle lane but in the left lane and there was no galab; in other words our story was a fabrication.
The Egyptian’s supervisor came to the scene and was told by several witnesses who lingered that they saw a galab hit our car. In the past 48 hours anyone who sees the car as they’re walking by will comment: “what, did you get hit by a galab?”.
The reporting officer had called my father in the hospital later that night to inform him of his report (to call him a liar), while my father who has a heart condition was still recovering from the accident. Hence my sister and I went to the police station to confront the guy. At this point it wasn’t a matter of who was to blame since the insurance covers the whole thing anyway. It was a matter of the approach and attitude of this officer which only worsened in to the night.
I went out to see the car for myself. The damages to the car were perfectly matched with the description my father gave of the accident. The right side of the car, the passenger side, was beaten up by the concrete guard rail, indicating that the car did in fact spin 180 degrees and slam into it. The right side of the car, the driver’s side was relatively and comparatively clean except for a decently sized bump to the exterior located between the back tire and the trunk. The bump was in the shape of a relatively perfect circle.
The officer not only insisted that it was impossible for a galab to have hit the car but would not let me even finish explaining the story. He was under the impression that according to my father’s description the galab had changed lanes but kept going, which would mean that in doing so it would have made the car turn only 90 degrees before continuing to smash into the driver’s side as it moved forward. However my father had said the galab was switching from the left to the right lane by passing behind him in the middle. In other words the galab did keep on going but on towards the right lane, not continuing in the middle.
The officer was relentless. He smirked or cocked back his head as to indicate “no” and “impossible” while saying those exact words out loud. He would not allow any of us to say anything and if we attempted to disprove his theory through the use of elementary physics, he would say we were simply convinced of our story and were unwilling to consider anything else. Perhaps so, but wasn’t he doing the same?
We called on a committee to come and see the car and verify. At the station we were in the chief’s office that had nothing to do with any of these people as they didn’t fall under his jurisdiction but informed us that even a committee would find in favor of their fellow cop.
The committee came and my sister and I for a moment thought perhaps we’d get some objective perspectives from someone who wasn’t blind. We were wrong.
For the next 10 minutes a group of policemen examined the bump in the darkness and concluded that my father had either hit the Egyptian’s bucket, or based on traces of some foreign paint (which they said could not have come from a galab) that my father had hit the Egyptian’s wheelbarrow. I wondered to myself what exactly the contents of a wheelbarrow or bucket would have to be in order to create such an impact, to leave such an imprint in the side of the car and cause it to spin around.
So we went to the scene of the accident. The scrapes of red paint on the traffic island/concrete barricade, backed my father’s story although apparently there were several other scrapes of red paint from where other red cars had met similar fates which only served as an element in a later theory of theirs.
As far as the committee of officers was concerned, the culprit consisted of a wheelbarrow or a bucket of some sort that hit the back of my father’s car and sent it spinning.
Then they came to the hospital to hear my father’s story.
We decided to pay to have the Egyptian worker x-rayed and spend the night even though there were no broken bones. So the committee paid him a visit next. The Egyptian said he didn’t see a galab but in any case his back was turned to the traffic of the airport road as he swept the sides of the barricades. The next question they asked was about his wheelbarrow. He said he didn’t have one. The next question they asked was about his bucket. Again, he didn’t have one. The next question they asked was what his broom was made of. At this point I’m thinking to myself what they’re hoping the answer will be; a broom made from kryptonite or remnants of Thor’s hammer?
It was made of wood in case you dared to wonder.
The committee huddled for a while and then they came up with a new theory, the most exciting one.
My father was in the left lane traveling at a speed that defied the laws of physics (and my father’s own laws) and upon turning the curve of the street he hit the barricade a little which turned him around. My sister quickly disproved this theory by pointing out the curve of the road at the point of the accident was not sticking out at all to the point of hitting the car. So the driver’s side bump in the shape of a galab’s wheel remained as mysterious as a crop circle. What could it be? They went on to say my father had hit another car, except this car, endowed with some supernatural powers perhaps, was able to keep going without being involved in an actual collision. Then they blamed the tow truck that towed the car to the station.
We gave up.
Their reluctance to even consider the possibility of their being a galab, which other people also claimed to see, was simply unreasonable and unbearable.
First, the reporting officer is one of their own and even according to the chief of the station where the car was towed, fellow cops stick together and they never admit a mistake nor are they ever willing to change the report.
Second, it’s a galab. In other words finding such a vehicle would not be an impossible task but a rather tedious one especially when he hit our car with his tire thus leaving nothing for him to fix.
Third, our insurance covers it all so why should they bother with the truth when it “technically” does not matter financially? For us, at this point, it was not a matter of money but simply the fact that right is right and wrong is wrong. To call my parents liars when the evidence supporting their story is right there engraved in twisted metal is simply ludicrous. On top of that, the attitude of the reporting officer was uncalled for, especially when dealing with a citizen. For him to even enter a police station where mottos of “we serve the public” decorate the halls and doors, while giving the public such a hard time, is unprofessional in my opinion.
Those are my initial complaints thus far.
In the next few days many more complaints will break the surface I’m sure, as my family and I dare to go through the “what-happens-after-you-get-in-an-accident” process in Jordan. From insurance company to receipts and bills to mechanics to police stations to all sorts of places that require such tedious work on behalf of the citizen and causes one to put their life on hold.
Do not confuse this complaint with one that covers the entire public sector, I am complaining about the select few that are a disservice to the country and it’s people. Moreover the private sector didn’t serve us well either. Our insurance company claims that we must call them as soon as we get into an accident so that they can send someone over to take care of everything, from the scene of the accident to the hospital to the police station. However our calls to their offices and emergency cell phone numbers went unanswered. Apparently accidents don’t happen on the weekend.
Sometimes you can do everything in your power to avoid a car accident in Jordan and it just happens. Destiny, God’s will, pure luck, call it what you will, sooner or later it happens. But if there was ever more of a reason to slow down and drive carefully then it’s this: do it simply to avoid the mess and hassles that come with having an accident in Jordan.