Yesterday morning I drove up to Abu Dhabi. It was a typical motorway adventure along the E22. There were 7 ½ ton trucks dangerously overloaded, Toyota Camry’s driving like tools and hogging the middle lane and of course everybody’s favourite: the Toyota Land Cruiser driving at 200 million kph, tailgating me and flashing his lights. I was in no rush so annoyed him by slowing and before unhurriedly moving over to let him by. It’s a usual occurrence but this time it got me thinking, where was he going? Was his wife going into labour? Had his father been taken seriously ill? I don’t know but he was in an awful hurry. One thing I felt was sure was that he was not trying to make an appointment.
Timekeeping means jack here. And that’s a shame. To arrive late to see someone is to say “your time is worthless to me”, and that is a massive insult. We read in blog 18 that hands are an important element of good manners in the UAE, and to extend the left one is akin to genocide. I counter that by insisting that ill-punctual individuals are just as uncouth.
To arrive late after agreeing to meet someone at a certain time is, as far as I’m concerned, more insulting than urinating on them. But I do understand that sometimes external factors can have a bearing. If for example you are faced with some traffic congestion or you stop to assist at a burning building then a simple phone call to your person in waiting is essential. If however you are injured or killed on the way to your engagement then fine, not much we can do, but otherwise there are no excuses.
Living in the UAE has taught me a great deal of patience and these days I no longer carry the stress and crows feet I once did. There have been many, many instances where I have been left standing like a lemon with no call to apologise or to update. It happens on every level. I’ve had meetings arranged with high flying individuals that have never happened because the other chap just hasn’t turned up. I’ve phoned electricians on emergency call outs and despite my insistence that it was indeed an emergency they turn up 6 months later with a bucket and sponge…
My Christmas 2010 was ruined when I was due to meet an IT technician at work on Christmas day itself, he never turned up. I wanted to peel him and throw him into a barrel of salt. I was due to meet another IT technician some months later and after agreeing a time again he failed to turn up…was it something to do with Cricket World Cup between India and Pakistan? You bet it was. Building contractors? Yeah the bricks will be here tomorrow…no they won’t.
But we carry on. About 2 paragraphs ago I lied to you all, I apologise. I claimed to have become far more patient and to have dispensed with my crows feet. Whilst in other cases this is true the issue of punctuality still manages to raise my blood pressure to such highs that I could be used as a renewable energy source to power an entire city…
Sadly today I don’t leave you with a solution to this incommodious matter, but a question: if no one gives a damn about being anywhere on time, why the hell do they drive so fast?