Illegalities and Sunroofs

One cool thing about my job is that we have lots of out-of-town visitors in the office. Some are big, some are small, but all like snappy restaurants, so we office grunts usually take them out for a snazzy dinner in hopes they'll think we're classy.

Last night we dined at just such a chic Italian restaurant. On the way there I missed my turn and, attempting to get back on the main strip, purposefully drove the wrong the way down a one-way street. This is illegal in the U.S. It is only illegal in Jordan if one of two criteria is satisfied: 1) a vehicle is coming the correct direction down the one-way street (otherwise you just drive fast and hope the street stays empty), or 2) a law enforcement official is watching who feels bored and wants to talk to someone.

A police officer chilling by his car spotted my questionable vehicular maneuver and flagged me down. Sauntering up to my window, he greeted me in Arabic: "Peace be upon you." It's kind of an inappropriate greeting for the context, in my opinion.

We chatted in Arabic for a minute. I gave him an insincere promise to never drive the wrong way down a one-way street again in exchange for directions to the restaurant. It turned out we were both insincere; the restaurant wasn't where he said it was, so I drove the wrong way down a different one-way street in retaliation.

The restaurant was snappy (if I knew a synonym for "snappy" besides "snazzy", I wouldn't have used "snappy" twice in the same post, but I don't, so deal with it). Dazzling flowers and sundry leafy plants crowded the courtyard while flickering candlelight cast dancing shadows on the stoney ground. My colleagues reveled in the ambiance, ordering Jordanian red wine. I stuck to my fast-food roots and had a Coke.

The chicken I had for the main course was pretty tasty, but the dessert disappointed a bit. My chocolate mousse was literally bite-sized. I wondered aloud to the waiter if he would bring me the rest of my Bon Bons.

It was dark by the time the valet parking attendent pulled up with my shiny SUV with a sunroof (I've never had a sunroof before, so I drive with it open whenever it's not too hot -- I don't even care that it decreases my gas mileage from 10 mpg to 8). I took a wrong turn on the return trip to drop off our visitors at their hotel. I ended up in the older, more historic part of Amman and pretended like I'd meant to take the detour to show the visitors this crowded quarter of the city.

After a few clueless turns and a mere fifteen minutes I ended up exactly in front of the Sheraton, stunned at my good fortune. My passengers disembarked, complimenting me on my fine grasp of Amman's confusing maze of wide boulevards and serpentine alleyways. "And you've only been here three weeks!" one gushed. I didn't divulge that I'd been hopelessly lost the whole time and it had only been through several dozen miraculous strokes of luck that I'd ended up blindly taking all the correct turns and literally stumbling upon my destination.

There wasn't much time to dwell on my good fortune, however. Though it was 10 p.m., I had to return to work. I had a project to finish by a 12 a.m. deadline. Truly bogus.