Man, sometimes living in Syria really sucked. Like this one time, when some construction workers parked a huge vat of bubbling tar outside our apartment building for a few days, spewing smoky billows of tarry goodness into our home. We started noticing the smell one Sunday morning and at first we couldn't tell where the stench was coming from. Then we looked outside and saw this:
The construction dudes quit work in the afternoon (just in time for school to get out, and since the workers left their gear and equipment out, the kids had a lot of fun playing with it) and the smell abated. Phew!
Until midnight, when it came back with a vengeance. Jeremy actually went outside at that point (perhaps needled by his sensitive, pregnant wife) and confronted the workers, who helpfully explained that they had to fire up the tar vat at midnight because it takes the tar eight hours to heat up to 400 degrees Celsius (who knew?).
Jeremy smiled and nodded and then went to the police station to see what could be done. That might seem drastic, but it wasn't just our own welfare we were looking out for. These fumes were really bad, and at that moment, they were wafting over a whole building full of sleeping residents. If they even could sleep through the smell, that is. It just didn't seem right.
The policeman came with Jeremy down to the construction site, had a look around, had a chat with the workers, and then shrugged his shoulders with a "meh." The workers promised him that they'd be done tomorrow (bukra, inshallah, ha ha ha) and everyone parted as friends.
Everyone except for Jeremy, of course. I think he and I ended up spending that night and the one after (so much for the workers being done that day) at a friend's house in a different neighborhood so we didn't asphyxiate in our sleep.
You know, we really did like our neighborhood and our apartment, in general terms, but now that I think about it there were some really annoying things about them, too. Sometime I should tell you the story about when Jeremy wandered the streets at 4am looking for the local muezzin so he could throttle him. Another time, I suppose.