Monday, September 19, 2011

Flat tire

This happened about a month ago, during Ramadan, but for some reason I haven't blogged about it yet. We came out of Spinney's on King Faisal Road and got in the car to drive away. Just as I was about to pull out of our parallel parking spot, a man walking by pointed to our front tire and said it was flat. Sure enough:

Now, here's how you know we've lived in the Middle East for a while: when the man who alerted us to the presence of the flat tire offered to change it for us, we smiled and said sure, how nice! That is just how people are here. If this were Russia, we would have immediately been suspicious and kept a clear eye for goons or henchmen appearing out of nowhere with some nefarious scheme.

Anyway, this is the Middle East, not Russia, and it was hot and it was Ramadan, and even though Jeremy did quite a bit of the work,
when it was all done, we decided to offer the guy some money for his kindness and trouble. We briefly discussed how much it should be, and I said we should give the helpful stranger 50 dirhams ($13.50). We thought maybe that was a bit much, but hey, like I said, it was hot and it was Ramadan. Besides, we were pretty sure he would refuse the money anyway. Again, that is just how people are here.

So imagine our surprise when he not only took the money, but asked for more! It was unbelievable (again, for this part of the world).

We drove away with our spare tire expertly installed (dude happened to work as a driver), but the money squabble at the end of the experience left a bad taste in our mouth. We spent a few minutes discussing whether maybe we'd just been the victims of a low-level scam - a guy lets the air out of a tire and then gets money for putting on the spare -  but then we let the subject drop because it didn't really matter, and how could we ever know for sure if that was the case? In any event, it had only set us back 50 dirhams and the hassle (and unknown expense) of getting a new tire put on...

...which we did a few days later, in a place that looked like THIS:
Seriously, I love the car repair district of Sharjah (and believe me, it is sizeable). We just drove up to a place that looked promising and had our tire checked. We also got a misbehaving wiper blade replaced while we waited. Bonus!

It turned out that there was no puncture in the tire, which unfortunately lends weight to the theory that the guy was running some kind of scam.

However, we were happy to not have to buy a new tire, so. All's well that ends well...or something.


Crys said...

Well at least he just let the air out...rather then slash the thing :) I'm with you though, it really puts a bad taste in your mouth when you realize someone is trying to take advantage of you...although I guess it makes truly good acts stand out more. At least that's what I'm telling myself this week :)

Liz Johnson said...

Huh. Yeah, I was all excited about this until I heard that there was no puncture (and he also asked for more money). Weird. I really hope that he didn't let air out of your tire, but geez. Hmmph.

I try to find car repair places in the US that look like that. I figure that there is a direct correlation between the honesty of the mechanic and the amount of money put into the aesthetics in their shop. A junky old repair shop in some guy's back yard? That's an honest (and cheap!) mechanic!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Mmmm, now you'll need to be more skeptical toward human-kind, at least in your part of the world. Too bad. And yeah, at least the guy didn't slash your tires.


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