On Road Trips and Such

Every college dude has this one spectacular road trip that he verged unknowingly into in which it eternally changed him spiritually, emotionally, and in some unfortunate cases, physically.

My personal road trip took me all the way across the hemisphere to Uncle Sam's turf. Cowboys and Indians, peasants and pilgrims. It would've been a culture shock except that was my fourth (and hopefully my last) trip there. The shock perpetrated from the close interaction I had with the locals, if such a term can be applied in a politically-correct manner.

I worked as a door-to-door salesman. Not the most prestigious or dignified job, but I don't think anyone's first job should be. Sometimes I wake up from nightmares saying things like "Hi my name is Sami. I am a.." But I thank God that I didn't work as a mascot for some tacky hot dog restaurant.

Those were the good days for Arabs pre 9/11. To make things worse, and to prove my point that I attract unwarranted trouble, 9/11 occurred while I was there. 2 of my road-trip mates had similar names to the hijackers. One was not so lucky and faced serious problems which he inadvertently dragged me into. Flyers to Milan refused to fly on the same plane with him since they noticed he had Arabic features. We met by coincidence in JFK airport, where he introduced me to his friends from the FBI. I was interrogated, scrutinized and ran the risk of missing my eagerly-anticipated flight to Milan and then back to Amman.

I was done with the US. For good, I'd like to think.

There is no one story to tell. I went across 4 different states, 2 different countries, 8 cities and uncountable stories and memories in California, New York, Detroit, Tennessee, Los Angeles, Nashville, Manhattan, Bronx, Memphis, Lancaster, San Bernardino and Palmdale.

We first lived in a filthy garage, sleeping on a mattress that 4 Jordanians and a Scottish dude shared. One of the Jordanians had the knack of screaming while sleeping. Another woke me up by banging his elbow to my face, he was yawning. Then we moved to a more lavish, 2-storey house with a typical American family in upper-middle suburbia.

In my job I ran into the craziest shit ever. An Arab who wouldn't speak back in Arabic to me (this became the norm later on) A rottweiler biting the heel of my shoe. Flat bike tires. Falling off bikes and generally bike trouble. Running away from a police car that a lady called on me because I arrived promptly at an appointment I made with her. A black lady high on crack convincing me that God, Jesus and the Virgin were all black-skinned and that white man was the devil and will burn in hell. She proceeded to ask me if there were black people where I come from, I said yes remembering people from Jordan Valley who turn dark from the sun. Another lady claimed that I remind her of Jesus Christ. The worst of the lot was when one day I got bored, so I knocked on a door claiming to be a prophet for a new religion, they slammed the door so hard the wind blew me off. The next day I passed by the house and it was burning to the ground, with fire engines hosing off the fire. I escaped away in my rusty bike, carefully considering the fact that I really might be a prophet.

Sometimes, I wonder how I made it back in one piece.


On Getting a New Car, Islamic Loans, Nancy Ajram and Such

Thus far, getting the car was my most difficult feat in Dubai.

Papers, signatures, cheques, down payments, checkups, mechanics, car salesmen are all a natural recipe for disasters.

I searched all over 3 different emirates for a very particular car.

No one said I wasn’t a flamboyant ass.

The search took me a whole month of commuting, scouring newspapers, calling, haggling. Finally, when I found the car that I set my eyes on since coming here, I was faced with all sorts of different debacles.

Car Salesman: What bank is your account with?
Me: Name an anti-Islamic, interest-gargling, pure profit-oriented, anti-religion bank
Car Salesman: Sorry that won’t work out, you need to take an Islamic loan, I'm an old man and I don't want to get mixed with haram money.

Not that I have anything against that, on the contrary, I tend to respect people who adhere to their beliefs in the midst of all the debauchery and tempation going on. But if you wanna come down to it, it is all the same, only a difference in naming.

I hope to have the luxury of pinning down everything on the greedy, fake-smiling, suit-dressing, over-sized watch wearing jerks at the bank on Judgement Day. After all, they are the ones with the beards and prayer mats.

And since you’re all wondering what car I treated myself to, I got an Audi A4. Very beautiful car with all sorts of needless options that I will most probably never figure out. I called her "Aida" and am known for singing "Aida, Aida, ecoutez-moi" in my coarse voice while driving.

What a leap from my previous car, that was a 90 something beat-up Lancer that had a knack for breaking down in the middle of the road on rainy days with brown, boiling water popping from the radiator threatening to eternally scathe my model looks, as other driver pointed at me and laughed.

Car Salesman (smugly): You Jordanians love BMW (as if it needs a rocket scientist to figure that one out)
Me: Yes, but I am an unlikely Jordanian. HA HA HA
Car Salesman(fake laughter): HA HA HA
Me: HA HA! Together, we will rule the universe, as Car Salesman and Buyer, MuwahA HA HA!
Car Salesman(more fake laughter): Ha ha. What did you just say?
Me: Errr.Nothing.

I wanted to make sure that no one guesses my nationality by my car so that when I cut on someone he wouldn't say something along the lines of "effing Jordanian/Palestinian", the way I know when I see a BMW 320i vroom-vrooming on Jumeira Road, that it has a Jordanian owner, or when I see a Peugeot 206 with a drop-top that the owner is Lebanese (damn, you love your drop-tops, don’t ya?), or when I see Corollas or Accords or Altimas, well, you know.

So now I’m zooming around, hitting the kick down, flicking radio stations like a maniac since I have the luxury of doing so using my steering wheel, making “W” signs with my fingers mouthing “Wes’ Bank” to passer-bys as I listen to blaring hip-hop music and trashy Arabic music for the likes of Nancy Ajram and Tamer Hosni.

There goes my to-do list for this year. Actually, there remains one last thing.

Nancy Ajram, will you marry me? I promise to give you the remote control and feed you twice a day.


On Business Trips and Such

Business trips are the most lonesome time for any guy

It’s at these times, when you’re alone in a lavish hotel room, room service a button away with hundreds of TV channels half of which you don’t understand the languages spoken that a man entertains his darkest thoughts..


But aside from that, it’s always a pleasure to go to new places and meet new people.

My latest trip was to Oman. And even though I hold an unjustified, personal grudge against Oman, I must say that it is a very beautiful country with super-friendly people.

So on the subject of business this is a compilation of what doing business with all sorts of nationalities looks like. Please note that this list is made to be as offensive and racially insulting and discriminating as possible. If you do not have the bile to accommodate such nonsense, then what the hell are you doing here in the first place?


Egyptian: Hi I am Mahmoud. How are you? How iz za health? How iz za family? Yez, Mistar Sami I want ze product delivered yesterday at 4am in za morning ibleez.
Me: Whaaaa?
Egyptian: And you are not allowed to use a comboyutar.
Me: Whaaaa?

Egyptians love to negotiate. They just negotiate for the hell of it because there is nothing better they can do. They also love to make unrealistic demands and false deadlines.


Lebanese: Wow, I love your tie. Where is from? No, don’t tell me. Mmmmm. Massimmo? (proceeds to flip the tie, I shudder at the proximity and at the possible homosexual innuendo) My friend’s brother has a tie exactly like it. He wore it when we went to the club Triology. You know Triology? Yeah I go there every Thursday with Rita, Nadia, Sameera. Why don’t you come too?
Me: Rita, Nadia, Sameera??? SURE!!


Jordanian: What’s your family name?
Me: Oh.. fuck!
Jordanian: Fuck.. you tell me.. Hmmmm, I know a Tareq Fuck. Is he related to you? We used to share the same seat in junior high. (please note that there is no homosexual insinuation here, this is the way seats are made in Jordan, two people's asses are safely warmed by wood the seats are made of)


Saudi: I want the color green in my product..
Me: But…..
Saudi: No buts, if I hear another but I will make another unrealistic demand..
Me: But…
Saudi: Ok I want the picture of Sami Al-Jaber in my product. Or I tell you what.. I want the whole Saudi football national team in there too. And Mohammed Al-Deaie.
Me(weeping): But…


Me: I want..
Indian: Yeah, yeah, yeah
Me: But..
Indian: Sure, sure, sure..
Me: Well if you know what you are supposed to do.
Indian: yeah, yeah, yeah

Of course the final result is anything than what you wanted..


Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Lebanese: How much?