Monday, June 21, 2010

Double Parked

My husband has started driving again since his open heart surgery the end of March. Last week we had some errands and shopping to do, so Hubby, son Adam, and I climbed into the car and we were off. In many business areas around here, parking seems to have been more of an after-thought than preplanned. So parking spots are often hard to find and lots of haphazard double parking happens along the streets in front of businesses, or there is lots of parking on sidewalks or even just in the middle of the streets.



There were no parking spots available at one place my husband needed to go into, so he double parked behind another vehicle. Adam and I stayed in the car waiting. Before too long, two men came and got into the vehicle that our car was blocking. I instinctively got out of the backseat and into the driver's seat. I pulled our car forward so that the other car could get out. Once they had pulled out and were on their way, I then backed our car up and then pulled it into the parking space left vacant by the other car that had just left.


Adnan arrived shortly afterward - and he was fine with what I had done. But what really surprised me was Adam's reaction. What I did had apparently terrified Adam. He tried to talk me out of doing it and was afraid that I would get arrested. Adam told me that the two guys in the car just stared at me like they couldn't believe their eyes - a woman behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia - how scandalous! I've driven Adam around since he was born, so he knows I'm perfectly capable of pulling a car forward a few feet and then pulling into a parking space. But he was scared that I would get into trouble, and I wasn't scared of that at all. I have never been one to live my life in fear - but I feel that many people here in this society (and other societies around the world, for that matter) live in fear on a daily basis - fear of what someone else or society will think of them (this is a BIG one here), fear of breaking the rules and getting caught and punished, fear of not earning enough points to get into heaven.

I don't think what I did was any big deal - what do you think?

61 comments:

  1. Honestly, I don't think it's a big deal but I think I would have let Adam move the car before I would have done it myself. KSA seems like a place where they can make much ado about nothing if they want to. Those men should have been thankful you were nice enough to move or else they would have had to wait. I think I would have been too scared to move myself, but then again when I've driven all my life, I might just moved it without even thinking of it being a potential problem.

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  2. I would have done the same thing. Isn't it sad that Adam had to worry about you getting arrested? Another weird example of an intimidating culture. How you do it, I will never know.

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  3. I say go girl! What do they think women will do if they can drive? Probably all leave the country lol.

    I would probably not last long there until I was arrested lol.

    Hugs!

    Anisah

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  4. not a big deal (though if the wrong person had seen you - might have been)
    Adam sounds as if he is adapting to the Saudi thought process

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  5. From all we've heard from you about the customs of where you live, I guess I am scared for you. Saudi Arabia sounds like a very repressive society. Please be safe.

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  6. It is NOT a big deal...it absolutely should not be a big deal. And the fact that it is over there is both sad and infuriating. I must say that all of your posts make me shake my head in absolute disbelief. How you can live there and maintain some sanity in all this madness is just beyond me!

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  7. Way to go Suzie!!!! Who knew that parking a car would make you a rebel??? You're my hero!

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  8. I am glad that I live in a country where I can enjoy freedom and equality. I don't have to depend on a man, unless I want to. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that my marriage of 12 years would fall apart, but it did. I am glad I have the freedom to leave a bad situation and to do things for myself. Driving is obviously a necessary part of life and I believe Saudi women should have that priviledge too. I think the laws in KSA are to keep women down. Keeping them under control and forcing them to depend on men. This leaves them vulnerable. Freedom is vital, and I hope the women in KSA will someday be free too.

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  9. This is a huge big deal and I applaud you on so many levels!

    (Why is the Mary Tyler Moore theme song playing in my head after reading this post..........."Your gonna Make it After All..."

    Susie thank you for your wonderful blog....have lurked for at least a year but had to come out and give you props for this one!

    You amy think you "only moved the car a parking length" but I see it as a lot more! Oh i could just hug you right now!!!

    Dee

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  10. You've got to be kidding me. Is the situation really as bad as that? That is NOT a crime! What makes anyone think that could be even near a crime.

    If that's the case and women cannot drive, why did you have to bother moving the car out for the other guys. You should have kept sitting in your car and told them to cool their heels till your husband came back!

    It was not a big deal! You did the other guys a huge favor by moving your car out of the way so they could move their car out of a parking slot.

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  11. i say kudos to you !!! reminded me of days wen i started learning how to drive !!

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  12. Its kind of hard for me to figure out. Here in the USA of course its not even a little deal. From what I understand about your adopted country is that it is a big deal. I just don't know how flexible the rule enforcers are.

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  13. You know the rules and decided to break it, just lucky this time,is it worth it?
    Good if you are not afraid of the consequences od Saudi's laws, but gaining entry in Heaven is a completely different matter, Allah's rules are ones I follow, and Heaven is the reward that I pray to obtain.

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  14. before reading Adam's reaction, i felt the same as he did. What if ? . yes people live scared and frightened their whole and daily lives but because they don't want to go to jail. you could end up arrested at least. But thanks God.

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  15. Susie- No big deal and those guys should be thanking you! I would have done the same thing in a heartbeat. Matter of fact, I already have my husband's permission to do something like that in the event we are blocking someone's car. A friend of mine drove her husband's truck from the street outside their house into their garage just for the heck of it. Rules were meant to be broken hehehehe

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  16. I wish everyone who double parks and blocks a car would leave someone behind to move the vehicle -- woman, boy or pet. The standard method for a driver thus blocked in Riyadh is to simply lay on the horn for 10 or 15 minutes (often at 11pm) till the offending driver comes out. It doesn't matter that 300 or so residents all have to listen to the horn.

    I've been known to pay a semi-cordial visit to the honker, even though I feel sorry for him. I have another method as well, but I'll have to save that until we're both safely ensconced in Arizona with our family and friends for the summer.

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  17. Too funny I recently also scared people in Saudi, we bought things at Ikea and I completely forgot about not driving in Saudi we were just on a buying trip. My husband was busy paying for everything so I told him I will back up the car so you can load everything. I was surprised everyones mouths were wide open seeing me driving, it comes as easily as breathing. It wasn't til I realized that I could not drive I found it funny, thank God no arrest.

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  18. way to go susie you should go down to a place i use to go to, dan use to take me down there and taught me to drive on the back roads, use to love all the double takes we;d get as they saw a white woman driving a car. the road is mainly used by teenagers at weekends to drag race their cars so dan would take me evening time not to late so just the occasional car passing us, was fun and I look back on those days, even better go with adam, its near automall, pretend like we did we wanted to buy a car and if adam has his licence he can test drive it i use to test drive their dodge cars as they give you the car without any one going with you hahaha tell you it was so much fun xxx

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  19. To anonymous at 6:12 pm: You actually believe that God would not grant Susie entrance into heaven because she dared to drive a car a few feet? I feel sorry for you and anyone else who believes such a ridiculous notion. Really.

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  20. Good for you: making the choice not to live in fear. You were sensible. As for Allah, I think he's sensible too.

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  21. It is actually ILLEGAL for a woman to drive there? Or just frowned upon?

    Perhaps it is so so the women cannot get in a car and the hell out of there out of frustration! ;)

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  22. Good goin Suzie,its only a big deal in the sense that we3 dont get to do it everyday LOL ...i was in almost the exact same situation awhile back and just hopped into the drivers seat, pulled up out of the way for the other care to get out n go so and then I parked my car in that same parking place.. ..my hubby was ok with it and the guy actually gave me the thumbs up and stated that 'we needed more women in Jeddah like me'...of course that made me feel good that i had accomplished something.. LOL SO,lets just keep it goin and SOON by God's will we will b driving normally. God Bless

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  23. In Bahrain..where women are allowed to drive...I might be sitting in the car while my ex was double parked and inside somewhere...when another car would want to move. Ive lost count of the number of times strange men thought nothing of jumping in our car...with me in it..to move our car.

    Does that sort of thing happen in Saudi?

    btw for those cheering her on...shame on u. She did something potentially very dangerous...regardless of her feeling it was a natural reaction. Need you be reminded this is SAUDI...land of lashes and deep prisons...of closed minds and 6 century ideology....its not midwest america where everyone can do pretty much what they please without worrying that "innocent" bystanders on sidewalks have got the Haya on speed dial.

    Seriously...

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  24. Good for you! What I want to know is were you wearing a baseball cap? Every woman driving story I've heard hear involved a baseball cap. Of course yours was not premeditated in any way.... ;)

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  25. Ha Ha Ha :-D
    You make my day! I can proudly applaud you as a first grade Batteekhah. :)
    You should write about workers' rights, nay, human rights:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6p3LpwqgTE
    Get your Captain Kabbob to translate this one for you.
    Keep us enlightened.

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  26. If we restrict ourselves to the laws of the land and the consequences of violating it...

    --You have violated the laws.
    --What if those guys are from some ministry to uphold the laws ?

    --why do you want to take a chance ?

    (i do not want to get into discussion whethere you are being helpful, practical...whatever)...

    Do not forget the news article a couple of years back, when a British lady in a school gave teddy bears and some kid named it Mohammed..
    she was put in jail for blasphemy and could have been locked up for life...

    --I will not violate any laws

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  27. I probably would have done the same thing, but I completely understand your son's fear.

    After hearing about how people get thrown into jail for the most "interesting" (for lack of a better word) reasons, I totally understand Adam.

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  28. Jeanette, I am not a moron, I responded to the last words she wrote:"fear of not earning enough points to get into heaven."
    she was talking about fear of Saudi's law and then throwing fear of Allah, they are not the same and shoildn't even be compared!

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  29. Anonymous, are you saying that a woman not being able to drive is God's (or Allah's) Law?

    Anisah

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  30. I feel sorry for Adam - I can understand his fear. From what you wrote earlier on numerous occasions about this country, I presume his fear for you wasn't completely unjustified. How helpless can a child feel if he has to witness madmen whacking and hurting his mother?

    Another approach would have been to sit back and watch the men having to wait. A sort of mean revenge for a stupid system where women are not to drive...

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  31. Well done Susie!
    I got a good idea for a posting, thanks!: parking in Casablanca. It's crazy here!!! I have to go for a 'parking a la Casa' photo shooting walk!

    Fear - what a power in our lives!
    So much good energy waisted because of fear...

    Have a good week Susie!

    BLOGitse

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  32. OMG! You could have started a serious riot! Get arrested, and think of Adnan! He would get the blame of course because you are just a mere brainless appendage and it's clearly his lack of proper direction which led you to commit this heinous blasphemous offence!

    As it is you will have to deal with the fact that you now have some serious browny points AGAINST entering heaven and tasting the sweet pleasure of seeing your husband go off on a 300 year long orgy with his 72 virgins.

    Ye Gods! What were you thinking woman???????
    Your place is not behind the wheel!?!? It's under the dusty sandal of your lord and master's foot!

    I am sad that after so many years in Allah's paradise you still haven't learned the proper behavior of an obedient wife...
    Luckily Adam at least seems to be aware of how a woman should not act.

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  33. Suzie,
    When I lived in the Khobar in the seventies my husband would take me to ARAMCO to get my driving ya yas out and let me drive. Women can drive in ARAMCO! Also, read this Huffington Post article, rural Saudi women drive all the time, this is very well known

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sabria-jawhar/saudi-religious-police-cl_b_320071.html

    Here's an article on ARAMCO women driving inside the compound

    http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=2009060339831

    Also here, not the entire article because it has been archived, but the beginning, how many Saudi women drivers get their licenses in Bahrain and drive there

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-191625618.html

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  34. A Canadian ReaderJun 22, 2010, 8:58:00 PM

    What really saddens me is Adam's reaction, though I fervently hope that he will continue to react that way.

    Perhaps, if and when Adam decides to leave the prison of KSA, you will regain your common sense and follow him...that is, if your husband lets you.

    Sad, sad, sad.

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  35. I have been reading and enjoying your blog for some time. So much information, great photos. Thank you.
    This entry made me so sad. Your son is scared because his mother moved the car a few feet!?! It is so bizarre. Such a small deal.

    Most Saudi men must be very insecure and weak and without control over their actions or emotions- in most countries men and women drive together, take trains together, work together, have leisure time together - and the men aren't tempted to rip the women's clothes off. Seems to me the men have the problem but are blaming it on the women.

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  36. I don't think you did anything wrong, you did what you had to do, under the circumstances. This country is wrong for banning women from driving.

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  37. What a shame that the repressive societal attitudes appear to be having an impact on your son.
    Yeup, moving a car IS no big deal at all...unless you're seen by The Thought Police. If that happens (in THAT country) I'd be very worried for you.
    I echo the sentiments of so many here: take care of your good self, gal!

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  38. Good for you Susie! I wouldn't have hesitated either. To me the action you took was no big deal.

    I love to drive my pickup truck and ride my motorcycle! Yes, I'm in the U.S.

    I don't think I could survive without being able to drive.

    Adam's fear of you being arrested - I think it's pretty sad and a reflection of the effect living in Saudi is having on Adam.
    Laura

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  39. If you did this in any other country it probably wouldn’t be an issue but in SA…after reading your blog about women drivers in SA, it would come back and bite you. I certainly hope not but I can understand by Adam was worried. You’re his mom and he doesn’t want you to have any repercussions because of what you did.
    Will this country come into the new millennium and let women at least drive! The way they view women is very sad.
    Stay safe and I so pleased to hear that your husband is doing well.

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  40. My Mom and I always talk about what a brave woman you are Susie. You are right. I am scared sometimes. I truly look up to you and hope that someday I can be as fearless as you. Nice post!

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  41. I tend to agree more with those taking a cautionary rather than a celebratory tone. It only takes one over zealous passerby or a muttawa coming out of nowhere to make this definitely less pleasant. I also think Adam had good reflexes about this, and that maybe you should get your driving fix in the countryside or on a compound--surely more satisfying than reparking a car.

    I would imagine an American woman behaving in such a way would have less constructive impact than a Saudi woman doing so. However, if you feel it was worthwhile for you, so be it. :)

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  42. Hello Susie,

    I think that you did the people in the other car a favour by moving and acted instinctively, according to your spirited nature.

    It seems to me that Adam's reaction was also a natural one, given his young age, especially if he felt he could not be articulate if authorities decided to pounce. I'm speculating but guessing he may have also felt awkward if his Arabic is not fluent when he is stressed, as he would then be less able to talk his way out of trouble.

    If I was in your position, I would be tempted to do the same but make sure I'm able to use some handy Arabic phrases in case such situations arise.

    It's interesting too that Adnan, who you have said in earlier posts can take a more conservative approach about things was relaxed about you moving the car. This would suggest that perhaps such an action might not have serious ramifications if you could explain yourself. It seems crazy that someone would have to explain away such an innocent act as moving or driving a car!

    Good luck Susie and take care over there!!

    Kristina

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  43. Susie, I admire your ability to remain living in KSA. I couldn't do it, not even on a compound. Adam reminds me of every young man/boy I met of his age - all feeling fear and responsibility for their mother. A bit sad to me I must say.

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  44. It's very true that women drive in rural areas. I knew a woman that got pulled over on one of the intercity highways. He told her she was speeding and sent her on her way. Her husband was sitting next to her.

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  45. Now a days parking has got a very bad situation. It should be correct so as to stop any miss happening in the road.

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  46. Susie,

    I wanna thank you for your blog. Posts like these are a big eye-opener for a girl like me. You have no idea how much you have helped me by being honest and sincere about you marriage to your Saudi husband. I've made the decision I'm not ganna marry my Saudi fiancé. It wouldn't work . Thanks again Susie.

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  47. You have no Idea How big the smile on my face is right now XD. I gotta say that is one of the best things I have read in a long time. I remember being double parked on so many occasions and having to call over and over again to get someone back to the car. Finally They just started leaving the keys for me :D, it's not illegal to drive for women in Oman. Most of the time you will be ok, just shock a few, its the muttawa (or wona bee's) you need to worry about, but they even get in a huff over colour on abayas, so ... I understand why Adam felt that way. Inshallah it will change one day but that day is always tomorrow it seems. Stay safe, and your family too.

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  48. Recently I watched an interview with the crown prince of saudi arabia on the bbc, and according to him there is no such law that a woman is prohibited from driving a vehicle. However he did mention that it is the wish of the majority of men in the kingdom that women do not drive, based more on culture and tradition than religion.

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  49. Hope this news is a joke...

    http://www.qatarliving.com/node/1119871

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  50. Hi Susie,

    I just found your blog. It is fascinating to read.

    I have just started reading a book on Muhammad. I know nothing on the Islamic faith and love what I am reading in my book. It's truly such a beautiful religion.

    I admire you for what you write and for the life that you choose to live.


    Salaam

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  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  52. I once drove a porsche in central Riyadh (quiet neighborhood0 in the middle of the night in my abaya! passed by a police car but they didn't notice a thing.

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  53. I agree that it shouldn't be a big deal, except that you've chosen to live in a country where this IS a big deal. While you didn't do anything wrong, I wouldn't put your safety (and your son's) at risk for the convenience of other people. Men, in particular. Let them stomp and complain about the car. You just shrug. Maybe that will make them think twice about their stupid laws.

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  54. So what are the consequences if a woman drives? What could have happened if the morality police, or criminal police, or whoever has authority, came along? Would you have been arrested? Where would they take you? Trial? Fine? Lashes? Stoning? Deportation? What could realistically happen? That's a possible topic for a blog post.

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  55. I don't think it's all that big of a deal but God forbid you get an overzealous muttawah who wants to show off his cojones. It's simply ridiculous that a woman cannot drive there when in fact many Muslim drive in MUSLIM countries. LORD! Secretly though am glad you did.

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  56. Good for you, Susie! Anywhere else in the world it would be your husband who had done something illegal! Only in Saudi can people park anywhere/anyway they want (as in your photos) and not get a ticket and yet a woman cannot get behind the wheel.

    Judy from Thuwal

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  57. Has anyone noticed that it's not the saudi women for the most part who ever complain about these things on your blogs.It's always western people or expats, so
    can you understand that it's their culture ,their land and westerns views are not welcome.

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  58. Hi Susie
    I dont htink its a big deal but I could see how it IS a big deal when put in context and I applaud you for doing it.

    I just have a question though: why is it that you were sitting in the backseat and Adam presumably int he passenger seat? Is that a law that you have to follow, or are you just more comofortable there or what? I'm curious.

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  59. Good job! I would like to think I would do the same thing, but my honest reaction would probably be to have someone else do it (in this case your son).
    It is funny because it probably took my husband 6 months after coming from Saudi to get used to holding hands and stuff in public with me (when we first were dating)! It's interesting what people are scared of- HE thinks it's SO bad/odd how scared Americans are of the police! That is, myself and my friends will watch for them while driving and certainly would never make any gestures or say anything that could be 'misinterpreted' by the police officer...

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  60. i dnt think its a big deal either. sumtimes i feel its unfair for banning women not 2 drive. im lucky dat im malaysian and able 2 to drive

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