Sunday, September 17, 2006
Crushed.. but we're ok
This is a Fiat Kobelco wheel loader, commonly simply known as a "shaiwal" here in the gulf. It weighs around 15,000kg. In no sane world should such a massive piece of machinery be allowed to drive on the road, but here in Oman, they are driven from site to site all the time. This particular mofo in the picture above, is owned by the company doing the road expansions by the Sarooj crossover, construction of which is has been causing a massive bottleneck of traffic for the past three weeks.
Friday afternoon, I was driving with my son and the maid from Madinat Qaboos to Qurm for Friday lunch with my inlaws, and this guy was driving in front of me. Despite its slow speed which was causing a long line of cars to tail-gate behind me, I was having fun with my son who was strapped in his car seat in the back telling him to look at this massive machine in front of us. So we drive out of the MQ service road and on towards the traffic lights by Masjid Asma and then take the turn towards the highway, all the time with this wheel loader ahead of us. Then he signals that he wants to turn and we slow down behind him. But he misses his turn and yet continues to slow down and so do we till we're at a complete stop right there on the road.
And then the idiot started to reverse.
It took a second to register, "what?... no way!". But yes, the 15 ton monster was reversing. And it was clear he didn't have enough space to reverse to get to his turn. But he kept coming. So I started honking, and then all the cars behind me started to honk as well. But he kept coming. It was like he couldn't hear us at all. It was like slow motion. What did I do when a massive piece of heavy equipment as big as house was driving right toward my car? I froze, that's what I did. I didn't think to grab my son and run out of the car. I didn't think of possible escape routes. I just froze. Next thing he was over my car's bumper, then on top of the hood. The windshield cracked and my son burst out crying. Just when he was about to drove through it, he finally stopped and drove forward to get off my car. I looked at the back to calm my son. "It's ok.. it's all right.. look we're all fine, al7amd lilah.." Tried to call the police emergency line and you wouldn't believe it, 4 times I got hung up without anyone saying a word till I finally got through. I went out to look for the driver and it turned out to be a guy who didn't speak a word of Arabic, English or Hindi. Screaming at him did no good. And quite amazingly, I didn't do anything to him. I was just so happy that we're ok. So I called home and asked for someone to come take Faisal and his nanny while I stayed and waited for the police.
The car itself wouldn't move, of course. The radiator has been crushed. The engine itself has been dismounted from its place and pushed to the back. No idea if the gear box has been effected. There's extensive body damage to the entire front. Even the sun roof got pushed open a bit and jammed in its place. I spent all morning yesterday at the police inspection yard because here in Oman you can't fix your car after an accident except after the police inspect it. They determine what the insurance has to pay for fixing and which parts should be fixed and which should be replaced. Then I spent all morning today at the police station waiting to get an accident report, which I didn't get because, get this: they were understaffed because there was a VIP guest who was going to pass so most of them were on convoy duty. Which means I have to spend another morning tomorrow with the police and the insurance company. And that takes care of the last day of my short holiday.
Someone told me that I should consider talking with a lawyer to see whether there's grounds to sue the company over their driver's negligence, the damage done to my car, and the endagerement of our safety. I don't know if you can sue over circumstances like these here in Oman. If anyone knows, please drop me a line.