You always hear of adrenaline junkies (including myself) going off routine to find the thrill of danger and add it to their daily life. I believe I have found the ultimate day-to-day way of getting your dose of adrenaline without going off track in your habits.
Try driving in Lebanon!
To drive in this country you need to have certain traits or else I doubt you’ll survive:
– At least the patience of a hundred men.
– The attention to details of fifty OCD people.
– Never trust other cars, trucks, busses, or motorcyclists.
– Always make sure your eye-sight covers even small areas between parked cars.
– Quick and accurate reaction skills.
– Always full attention on the road as well as your surroundings.
You’ll probably think this is too much (but trust me it’s still not enough) just to be able to drive in a country where street lights exist and cops are present; unfortunately every time I head to work, home or anywhere else, I get a dose of adrenaline, even in traffic (more like especially sometimes).
So why the patience of a hundred men? You’ll have people crossing the road randomly, expecting you to stop your full speed, even on highways, even in the dead of night (yes yes). So you being a self righteous person you are will stop, slow down, and make sure you don’t run them over. You also get your daily dummies (it’s not entirely their fault, I’m not sure they are aware) that decide to cross the road as soon as your light turns green. FYI lights include pedestrians too!
Why the attention to detail of 50 OCD people? That’s easy, make sure no one is wavering around while driving, and make sure that no cars are parked sideways; the person in front of you might not have tail-lights that work, or decide to stop suddenly without giving directions.
For some reason the Lebanese crowd doesn’t believe in the use of a turn signal before switching lanes or turning either side. My father’s favorite joke to that is: “my light signal is on because I’m gonna make a turn, not because I think I’m a Christmas tree!”; people around here tend to ignore that sometimes. Or you have the case where they will put the signal on 1 second before turning: that’s not the way it works! But they still expect you to stop and make way for them, even on highways.
Never trust others: I think this part is obvious, not everyone has the same driving ethics and skills as you, not everyone is focused on their driving either (messaging, calling, kissing their significant other, too drunk or high, reading a book – believe it!- or having a deep conversation with someone else in the car. You even find those who put their toddlers on their lap to “teach them how to drive”).
This morning for example I was driving behind this motorcyclist that suddenly decided to sneeze then make a U-turn in the middle of a 3 line road; I had to stop fast, to make sure not to hit him, as well as make sure I don’t stop too fast so the driver behind me doesn’t crash into me (they might be still asleep, unfocused or any of the previously mentioned above -6 am, I kind-of understand it).
Over-seeing gaps between parked cars, if I try to recall the number of times I’ve had to stop dead because of children peeking out from between those cars, people deciding to suddenly cross, and/or people moving backwards into the street in full conversation without looking I believe I would’ve probably killed more than 100 people in my life till now (and I’m only 25 so that’s quite a lot).
Pedestrians in Lebanon tend to forget that we drivers own the road most of the times, and it is their job to keep off of it; even when I’m a pedestrian I make sure I keep off the car lanes; unfortunately, it is sometimes impossible, seeing that people tend to park their cars on the pavement as well as motorcyclists driving on it; so moving to the car lane is sometimes the only way you’ll be able to get through (though that doesn’t mean that you have the right to walk in the middle of the street and stop traffic altogether!).
Quick and accurate reaction skills, well I think the reasons for that are quite obvious. With all the action happening on the Lebanese roads you’ll need them to make sure you get home safely, survive many heart attacks, and make sure you don’t leave bloody trails behind you.
Finally your attention will need to be fully focused on the road. All of it, at every second, even in traffic when you have that woman that decides to push her baby stroller out of the curb into the street and you barely get time to notice it before swerving away but still making sure you don’t crash into the car next to you.
You need to make sure the person driving behind you is attentive to your driving not messaging so he’ll have time to stop before crashing into you.
And of course the surrounding cars need to all be in your point of view; why? Simple: heading home from work a couple of days ago I was on the leftmost lane, behind a line of cars, all going 70 km/h; when I see in my rear-view mirror a car speeding behind me about to cross me from the right side. I usually don’t mind that but we were getting to the end of the tunnel where another lane enters the right one with no clear view. So of course a cab driver sneaked in just as the wild golf was next to me, causing him to swerve in my direction (without bothering to slow down I must add) having me swerve towards the wall in between nearly crashing into it, while hitting the breaks.
Guy’s reaction? Swearing at me for not stopping and letting him through, cab driver’s reaction? Ignorance is bliss and kept strolling away, my reaction? Minor heart attack with a 10 minute break before full recovery. Those people are the scariest in my experience, so always, always, under any circumstances, keep an eye out for wild drivers surrounding you, you never know what they might do and how they will react to be able to get there 1 minute earlier.
We Lebanese do not have a notion of patience, as well as we tend to always be in a hurry (why? I don’t know, we just always are).
This makes up altogether for a fun and adrenaline junky exciting game to go through in our everyday life.
So dear fans of adrenaline, if you are able to drive in Lebanon without getting killed, you’ll get your adrenaline dose, lots of action and adventure, while doing everyday chores.
Who’s in for a trial?