The Highway Loungers …

I never have enough time to take a picture of these guys … they come in very distinct groups of people … there are the Omanis from out of town … the Omani that are from town and just hang out and have a picnic or play football by the road … the Pakistanis that find it “fun” to hang around the highway, these guys also hang out at the airport … the poor guys that clean the highway … and the guys that maintain the lovely landscaping and gardens  … all of these guys make up THL … This is the group that has made it possible for us to have a nice metal fence on the main highway all the way in many places of Muscat … you sometimes see them climbing that fence trying to get to the other side … I ve also seen a group of Asian workers crossing the highway on bicycles .. maybe 25 of them (just after the airport) its was something ..

So I picked up this guy the other day… a young THL … he said he wanted to go to Royal Hospital and that one of his parents are admitted there … he also said that he had just come out from MB Petroleum coz he went there to look for job … he wasn’t from Muscat and didn’t know where else to go … he’s been here for three days and he’s been staying at the hospital … I asked him if MB gave him a job … he said they didn’t … so I said “sorry but RH is not really on my way” … he says “that’s fine … just drop me at the petrol station just before GMC” … so when we stopped a the drop off point … then suddenly he starts to cry …

Aish hathi el7aleh al7een … what I am supposed to do? I have a grown man crying in my car, miskeen … what is the expected reaction from me in these kinds of situations? … if I knew he was going to cry, I probably would not have picked him up …

OM: Ya wald el7alal .. hawiha wa thoon (O’ Legitimate Son … Take it easy ya 3azeezi)

CM: still crying .. now with more sound …

OM: Allah yisalmha inshallah el waldah … ba tit3afa o tirja3 ma3akum elbalad (don’t worry .. your mother will be fine .. inshallah she will get better and go back home with you)

CM: still crying .. and waving for a tissue …

I give him a tissue and realize that all this time I’ve had HI FM on … its probably a good time to turn the radio off now … shut up Darren .. its not the time to make jokes now .. what a mess this has turned out to be … i could have picked any THL I wanted … and the one I choose to pick has a nervous break down on me … I should have picked up one of those Pakistanis … what would have that been like, I wonder … those guys really lounge around the highway … they lie down and face each other and chat … its like they are on holiday or something …

So back to my THL… what am I supposed to do more? Give him a hug? Give him money? Take him to royal hospital? Put Darren back on?  … at that moment he opens the door and the heat gets into the car … ohooo … al7een 9ya7 o 7arr (crying and the heat) what a day this has turned out to be …as much as I feel bad for the guy … I just want him out of my car now …  finally he starts to calm down … it might have been the heat … he stops crying and starts to apologize … now I really feel bad … it crossed my mind earlier that this might have a been a scam to get money out of me… but here he was getting out of the car apologizing and not asking for any money …

What do I do now? Do offer him money? Will that insult him? Will he be offended? What would be an acceptable amount to offer in these situations… it’s the same feeling I get when I have to tip an Omani waiter … what do you tip an Omani waiter? 10%? More? Less? I end up not tipping them at all just so I don’t embarrass them or embarrass them … is that bad? I take a deep breath and out it comes …

OM: asa3dak b’shai? (can I help with something)

Inside me, I was slapping myself… is that the best I could come up with? The dude just cried for 10 minutes in my car … what ever money I give now has to be substantial … just to make up for that stupid question …

CM: a7sant … (thank you)

And he walks out … now I feel horrible … I take out my wallet and it turns out i only 300 bz in there … I should have more money on me if I am going to do this again … just in case

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