Expat Magazine

127. School Run II

By Martinfullard @MartyFullardUAE

A while back, I came up with a sensational idea to deal with the ever increasing traffic problem faced by Al Ain school runners. Because someone in their infinite wisdom had decided that housing 40,000 children in schools that all sit along the same three kilometer stretch of road was a good idea, people have been up in arms with furrowed brows and wailing stridently at the inevitable outcome. To have 40,000 children crammed into such a small space will naturally cause a few traffic issues. The reason I took the matter to heart so much was that I live just off that road. Each day I am forced to negotiate the automotive hell. The incompetence of my fellow road-users is rife and drives me to such madness there are literally mouth-sized chunks missing from my steering wheel.

As the governing body proposed to use “all its resources” to deal with the matter, i.e. money, I suggested that they build a sky road. Yes, a series of flyovers over the existing road network with ramps down to each school which could be exclusively used by the school runners was, in my opinion, sheer genius. For several weeks after my proposal I spent my life savings on Bollinger, caviar and yachts. I even bought my own island on Dubai’s “world”, but all they had left was Egypt, and it fell apart pretty quickly… I was so sure that my idea was perhaps the greatest in the whole of human history that I would never have to work again.

Sadly my faith was gravely misplaced. The UAE Uncut Sky Road contained one massive flaw; and that was that it relied on people having the capacity to think and actually use it correctly. It is a trap which only the most deluded fall into. It would seem that regardless of whether or not there are two roads on top of each other, there is still the parking question.

127. School Run II

“WHAT?! I was only gone for a minute! Come on man, I just dropped my kid off at school…”

We all know what the parking is like in the UAE. It is the same wherever you go. People just cannot do it properly. The bays over here are large enough to accommodate USS Nimitz and yet still Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan Maxima’s sit as comfortably within them as Salman Rushdie would do in Tehran. Never have you seen such shameless abandon; it is an OCD sufferer’s nightmare.

The problem is that when the 20-30,000 or so cars are all heading over in the morning, the spaces fill up pretty damn quickly. This inevitably means that some parents are unable to deposit their offspring in a timely manner. To counter the conundrum they simply block other people in and in turn cause further back-log. The result is an orchestra of ill-tuned horns, unnecessarily revved engines, some curious hand gestures and a lot of needless shouting. Mix this with high blood pressure and a migraine and quite frankly having children will have seemed like the biggest mistake of your life.

However I am pleased to report that action is being taken and the headmaster of one particular school is calling time on bad parking. A man called Mike Smith has suggested that the offending parking pests be named and shamed. Both the police and Abu Dhabi Education Council are behind the idea and that must really go to show how big a concern it is.

Mr. Smith believes that anyone caught poorly parked should be photographed and then the picture be sent to the police. The police will then take whatever action they feel is appropriate. I don’t envisage it going as far as the death penalty, a fine is too weak and vague, so I hope that their license is suspended and that they are forced to sit their driving test again.

If I was Mr. Smith I would have gone further. Since the Al Ain Town Planning Department have poo-pooed the UAE Uncut Sky Road idea, I say that the money that was supposed to go to that is instead used to erect massive billboards all over the town. Any photographs taken of people who have parked their Land Cruiser on top of the nearest E-Class are then blown up and pasted onto a board. We could go further by adding an amusing statement like “He and his wife have very different ideas of what acceptable length is” or “Parktile dysfunction? You should have brought a Volkswagon” or my personal favorite “Size matters.”

Fines, jail, hangings; nah, none of them fit the crime. Nothing teaches you a lesson like a bit of good old-fashioned humiliation. It works wonders and generally makes people want to keep a low profile or disappear for an un-defined period of time. Look at poor old Leslie Grantham, after the whole Captain Hook-Webcam incident we didn’t see him for ages. What about Eddie the Eagle? The second he enlisted to be a ski-jumper Margaret Thatcher threatened to revoke his British citizenship. Charlie Sheen? After his violent torpedo of truth turned out to be an empty water pistol he simply disappeared back into the red-light district and we had peace.

Stuff the feelings of the offenders. If they don’t care about either children’s safety or the blood pressure of their fellow parents then they don’t deserve a shred of sympathy. Let’s not just send our photographs of ill-parked Land Cruisers into the police, let’s get them blown up 20×20 and run them out of town.

It will clear the roads up, ease the parking strain and most importantly of all, make my commute though the hell each day slightly more bearable.

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