Commuting in Saudi Arabia (or, "No Time for Losers")

My commutes are usually pretty good. When I graduated from college and got my first job, I lived close enough to work that I could walk. I would walk through the verdant grounds of an apartment complex, then link up with a paved walking trail. Sometimes while I walked a cyclist would whir by and ring his sissy little bicycle bell all pansy-like, and I'd be like, "You're a girl!" Except without actually saying it, because I didn't want to get beat up.

Abu Halen has no time for losers who don't want peace. (2005)
Then, later, after I moved to the Middle East, I lived like a mile or two from work. I couldn't really walk, because maybe I would be mowed down by guys with machine guns in Nissan coups. I could've taken a taxi every day, but all the taxi drivers smoked all the time, and if I wanted to smell like smoke every day I'd start smoking, you know? But I didn't want to start smoking, because the Surgeon General and stuff, and I didn't want to take taxis, because then my wife would be like, "You smell like smoke. Did you stop listening to the Surgeon General?", and I couldn't walk, because machine guns, so I had to buy a car to drive the 1.5 miles to work. I actually tried to buy a moped, but I couldn't, because in Jordan no foreigners can ride mopeds, because of Mossad.

Now, here in Saudi Arabia, I have a real commute. It is both sucky and way cooler than yours, both at the same time. This is a streamlined account of my heckacool commute today. But first, here are the ground rules for commuting in Saudi Arabia:

1) You are the champion.
2) Everyone else are losers.
3) No time for losers, cuz you are the champion.

I ease out of the compound, past the Saudi dudes in pickup trucks with machine gun nests in the back. Usually the guys are sleeping, but still. I feel like driving past these guys always get my day off to a good start.

About a kilometer down the street, there's a gnarly traffic jam where the street funnels traffic down to one lane and shunts it into a 90 degree turn. I dart onto an empty side street to miss the backup, because I am very cunning, and also I am the champion. As soon as I turn the corner, there is a large van that is parked sideways across the narrow street, its front tires against one curb, its rear ones nearly touching the other. I do not know why this guy parked that way, but I know one thing: he is a loser. I lay on the horn, throw my driver's side tires on the sidewalk, and rumble -- mostly on the sidewalk -- past the loser in the van blocking the street. +1 for me. +0 for dumb losers.

I blow down the main highway toward work until like a thousand losers in their cars make another big traffic jam. There's no time for losers, so I bail down another side street like a champion. I buzz down this smaller road, swerving to avoid loser taxis that stop and throw it in reverse in the middle of the road, then I turn right at the Corner-That-Always-And-Inexplicably-Smells-Of-Poo. I expertly negotiate two roundabouts without slowing -- slowing down is a sign of weakness that other drivers will ruthlessly exploit -- and I find myself approaching the Awkward-Intersection-Where-If-You-Use-the-Right-Lane-Maybe-You-Will-Be-Stuck-Forever-Behind-Cars-Backed-Up-To-Use-the-Gas-Station (I am working on a shorter name for this intersection, but nothing else is quite as catchy). So I use the second-to-the-right-lane, but -- bad luck -- no one in the unbroken line of cars in the right lane is turning into the gas station, so I'm stuck approaching the intersection, needing to turn right, but being in the wrong lane to do so and being unable to merge into the correct lane. But I'm the champion, and everyone else are losers, so at the intersection, I turn right anyway, even though I'm in the wrong lane. The loser in the wimpy old Chevy Caprice that I totally cut off lays on his horn like he's all indignant or something. He may be indignant, but he's behind me. +1 for me. +0 for girly losers.

I'm steaking down a new street. Homeboy in front of me unexpectedly turns left, and I bob right onto the shoulder without slowing. Bust past him in a cloud of dust. I'm Muhammad Ali. He's Sonny Liston. I'm almost to work. It's just a few blocks south. Then, CONSTRUCTION! Bogus. I detour east, looking for a way to turn back south. There's a tiny street hidden in a clump of leafy trees. There's a "Do Not Enter -- One Way" sign at the entrance. I almost turn away. But no. I am the champion. There's no time for loser signs. So I throw my Yukon XL the wrong way down the one way street like a total bro. An insignificant Japanese car is coming my direction. I flash my brights, the international signal for "Regardless of what is lawful and what is not at this juncture in time, my vehicle will annihalate yours if it comes to a head-on, so be a chap and get out of my way." Insignificant Japanese Car moves over and I fly by like a glorious bald eagle soaring past a wet rat. +1 for me. + 0 for weak cheese losers.

I burst out of the alleyway onto the east-west main thoroughfare that leads straight to the Consulate, and an oncoming car swerves a little in surprise at my ostentatious and bodacious entry, probably because the driver is so moved by my audacious driving tactics that he simply has to let go of his steering wheel to clap loudly for me. +1 for me. +0 for outclassed, humbled losers.

I zoom past the Hospital-Where-People-Stand-And-Smoke-Outside. A couple of nurses are walking across the street like they own it. But they don't. I do. I lay on my horn and they glance up at the huge "GMC" grill bearing down on them and they contemplate death, and they fear it, so they get out of the way and I'm past them in a blur. +1 for me. +0 for intimidated pedestrian losers. And then I'm suddenly cruising through security at the Consulate and all the guards are cheering for me, throwing their hats in the air, along with fistfuls of confetti. I open the sunroof and emerge from it with my arms raised in a "V" for Victory.

And that's how I commuted to work today. It's all true, up until the part where the guards cheered for me. Everything after that is a lie. Really all the guards did was not close my rear driver's side door all the way after they checked the inside of my car, so all the way to my parking spot the "Door is Ajar" warning sound was beeping, and it was super annoying. But I'm still the champion.