Before I moved to Dubai I thought chauffeurs were the exclusive preserve of the Queen of England, Simon Cowell, and Harry Styles. I always wondered why anyone would want to be driven around by someone else in a shiny, top of the range, ‘are you for real‘ price tag, automobile. If I could afford an amoured car with bullet proof glass, a leather interior fashioned from baby deer bums and handstitched by nimble fingered 5 year old Bangladeshis…I would want to be the only one who drove it (apart from when a ‘designated’ driver is required).
It wasn’t until my munchkins started school in Dubai that I realised how many not-so-royal (real or rock) people employ drivers to chauffeur them around, do the school runs, and ferry the kiddies to after school activities. Of course in Dubai, where everything is different, ‘chauffeurs’ are known as ‘drivers’. To those of us who don’t employ a driver, it’s known as ‘Mum’s Taxi’. From an employment benefits’ perspective, compared to drivers, it is not the best job in the world: no salary, no overtime, no medical insurance, no guaranteed holidays….basically no nothin‘.
Chauffeurs/drivers are now a part of my everyday life……and they drive (excuse the pun) me insane.
They ignore every road rule you can think of. Speeding……driving down the wrong side of the road to cut in at the front of the line of traffic…..Parking rules? – Something only Mum Taxis are required to observe.
‘We are drivers. We can do as we please’ seems to be the message they want to send us minion ‘Mum Taxis’ who generally adopt parking/road safety etiquette and wait their turn, park safely and consider other road users.
Most days I rock up to school early to get an advantageous parking spot, sit there in an idling, AC drained car for at least 40 minutes as I watch car after car slink by wondering where it can drop off Madam or the maid so she only has to walk 5 centimetres to the school entrance, and therefore minimise exposure to sun/heat/humidity and the resultant frizzy hair, melting feeling.
And boy does that annoy me.
Inevitably when I return to my car with my 3 charges in tow, schlepping schoolbags, PE kits, cooler lunch boxes and any artwork which has been sent home with them, I see drivers circling like sharks looking for a recently vacated parking spot; driving up and down, slowing, stopping, and even reversing back up the road in the wrong direction.
No idea why I think/ask this….it’s a normal, everyday occurrence.
Indeed on many an occasion I have had to navigate my kids’ safe passage between the bumpers of giant 4x4s to make it to my car. Spluttering expletives, nodding my head in a teacher-like disappointment, I proceed to my car in the hope that the drivers will take notice. Ha! Wishful thinking!
But the drivers who really make me want to punch out their headlights (again, excuse the pun!), are those who shamelessly park across the front of my car, pinning me in until their passengers arrive. Parked on the road they are blocking the traffic. But, more importantly, they are blocking me….me who had the courtesy to show up early and endure 40 mins in the sauna that is my car in the hot desert months. Despite seeing me load up my cargo they still refuse to move. It seems their rule is that they have the right of way; I must wait on them.
I stare. I glare. I will my eyes to bestow some black magic upon them. I gesticulate, honk my horn and retalliate to the ‘helpless-arms-thrown-in-the-air’ motion by rolling down my window and giving the ‘under Madam’s instructions’ driver, a piece of my mind…..
And tomorrow, I will have to do it all over again…….
Madams please teach your drivers the rules of the road and the concept of safe driving/parking!