Last Thursday night I was in a car accident. Mid-way through a green light, a car swerved out of no where on my left, as it crossed its red light and hit me. The damage to my truck was rather minimal – the bumper and front guard need to be changed. However, the e-class Mercedes that hit me was rather totaled (boy am I glad with my purchasing decisions). In the Mercedes, four teenagers. The driver, a Saudi. Soon after surveying the damage and making sure everyone was okay, I drove my car out of the intersection and parked it meters away so as to avoid traffic pileup. The other car had no such luck getting started. The night, having been ruined, could be easily salvaged, or so I thought. Knowing that traffic police usually take their sweet time on normal nights let alone Thursdays, my first call was to the person who could make sure they come a bit faster. Sure enough, that call helped bring the one to two hour wait down to 15 minutes.
Generally, in Jordan, if the traffic police come in motorcycle you should assume you’ll be making a trip to the police station to fill out the paper work (the so-called ‘krokeh’). If they arrive in a van, they’ll pull out that foldaway table in the back and start filling it out on the scene. The former will need an additional hour, the latter can be over in under 20 minutes. Luckily, the van came.
However, upon seeing that it was not an ordinary accident, but rather a case of someone crossing a red light, this meant more paperwork. The policeman simply said “follow me to the station”. So he sped off before I, or those that hit me, could get in to our cars. But knowing the station, I simply drove over and waited.
The accident took place at 9pm.
The police didn’t come back to their station until 12am. And the only reason they did is because I had to make another call simply because this was getting ridiculous. In the station there are about 15 police officers doing absolutely nothing but smoking, drinking coffee and chatting. And here I am, waiting for one policeman who has my drivers license to fill out paperwork that should take less than 10 minutes.
It turns out, on Thursday nights, they put one person in charge of three districts, and he even told me that he wasn’t planning on coming back until 2am. So I would have been waiting for five hours just to do something that takes 10 minutes. Instead of following up on each accident, they send one person to canvas all these areas and then come back at the end of the night and fill out the paperwork in a batch. Their excuse is that an accident takes place every five minutes, which I find highly unlikely given the geography and the various laws of physics and probability.
The officer comes in, drops the licenses, informs a fellow officer of the case, and leaves. As if he couldn’t do this when he told us to “follow me” three hours earlier. Now the second officer takes our statements, which are basically written out by pen on a piece of paper, and then you have to sign it. The krokeh is filled out and our IDs are taken away for collateral. We’re told to come back on Sunday for court. Upon telling them that I didn’t want to press any charges, they said it didn’t matter – I would have to do that at the courthouse.
So come Sunday morning, I’m back at the station at 9am waiting. The guy who hit me shows up and a police officer with all our papers held together by a pin, hops in the car and we go to the courthouse. There we go from room to room until the paper gets processed and we’re told to go see a judge downstairs.
For those who have never been to a courthouse in Jordan, think of a building where there are many small rooms, and each one is filled with exactly the following pieces of furniture: a couch, a long desk that divides the room and a computer. Behind the desk sits the judge and right next to him the typist. As he reviews the file, the typist fills out the information in a report. You’re then sworn in and asked about the events. As you answer “yes” or “no”, the report is written out in the first person. So for instance, if the judge asks you: “was the light green when you crossed?” and you reply with “yes”, he turns to the typist and says in classical Arabic: “I was crossing a green light when the other car hit me”. It is the strangest thing to hear things you haven’t said per se, coming out of someone else’s mouth.
Now, as far as I know, if I were to file a complaint about being hit by someone who crossed a red light, that person would either pay a hefty fine or be sent to jail. I did not file complaint however because I knew this would mean having to come back to the courthouse for several more sessions that might span across several weeks, and I’ve already wasted enough time of my life for someone who was just driving through a green light one Thursday evening.
Eventually, the report is typed up, filed and signed. The guy pays a 100JD fine for crossing a red light. I get my national ID back along with a copy of the krokeh and now I have to go to my insurance company. This entire process took about 3 hours.
At the insurance company today I’m told I need to get the accident report from the judge, which I didn’t know. So I drive back to the courthouse and of course there are about a dozen traffic police fining the heck out of all the people who have parked on the street between the Abdali project all the way to the King Abdullah mosque. With absolutely no where to park, I drive to Shmisani, luckily find a spot, and take a taxi to the courthouse. After finding the judge, and waiting till he got back from lunch, I ask him for the report and he says it will take four days, which in Jordan means five, and since it’s Monday, it means I won’t see it before next Sunday.
You get hit by a car on a Thursday night and you waste that night waiting for the police to fill out paperwork that takes about 10 minutes.
Then you waste a Sunday morning at the courthouse just to get the krokeh to take to your insurance company.
You waste a Monday morning between the insurance company and the courthouse only to be told to wait for several days.
Then you’ll come back to the insurance company nearly 9 days after the accident, to take it to a garage who will take about five days to repair it.
In other words, two weeks of my life will be semi-dedicated to this hassle and all because I got hit by an idiot who crossed a red light. Half that time, I will be car-less, which makes things even more difficult.
It’s amazing the amount of time that is wasted between the hassles and bureaucracy of this country.
So to the government, please find a way to mend what’s broken in this chain of events; the solutions are just so easy.
And to fellow drivers, please obey the traffic laws because even if it is your fault, the cause and effect of this situation only means you’re about to fuck up two weeks of someone else’s life for no good reason.