10 May, 2007

The pebble of DOOM!

Everyone in Bahrain has his own opinion about the Traffic directorate. I appreciate their efforts, they work hard, but still have some reservations.

I however was gob smacked with this.

About two weeks ago, I got out of the house going to the gym. Its about a 3 minute drive or so. I wasn't in a hurry, it was midday, the gym wasn't going to close anytime soon and I had nothing to do that day.
When I pulled over at the gym's car park, another car, which was following me pulled next to me. The driver got out and walked towards me. He said hello, I greeted back. Then he said that a pebble flew from my rear tire and hit his windshield, cracking it. And now he wants me to pay for it!
To be frank, I don't know if he was telling the truth or lying. I heared many tales of guys with cracked windshields doing this to strangers trying to guilt them into paying for the repairs. Even if this did happen, its not really my fault, I cannot control pebbles in the road nor do I know of anyone that can. I abided by the traffic laws in my 3 minute drive and that's it.
I told him I can't help him and he said he'd complain to the traffic police. "suit your self" I said. I didn't think the police would be interested in such a trivial complaint. Boy was I wrong!

On the 8th of may, I got a phone call from the traffic department. The man told me that Someone has filed a complaint against me for breaking his windshield with a flying pebble from my car.
He said: "We get alot of these complaints and you have two options, either pay the man BD 10 (US$ 26.5) or we'll have it brought forward to the prosecution."
I said "Prosecution?"
"yes", he said, "You don't need to go through all that trouble, how about if you just pay that BD 10?"
"NO!", I replied. "I didn't THROW him with a stone, it was a pebble according to his words, which is something I cannot verify happened. Besides even if it did, its not my fault is it? It just happened."

The police man tried to convince me to pay 10 Dinars but I apologized and told him to go ahead and take it to court. Several phone calls were exchanged between me and him (totalling around 5 minutes in total) trying to convince me to yeild but I remained firm.

By the end of the day, a higher official called me
"Hello, I am Ebrahim, your neighbour, how are you?"
I don't know an Ebrahim that is my neighbour... anyway, moving on:
"It seems that you don't want to pay the poor man"
"I am sorry, I have no way to know if he is telling the truth or not, even if, I fail to see how that was a direct cause of my actions"
So he tried to scare me:
"But you know, if it goes to court, they'll just sentence you immediately without your presence then you'll have to pay a fine"
"Excuse me? Why would they sentence me?"
"because your pebble broke the man's windshield"
"First of all how am I to know that this allegation did occur? Can you prove it?"
At first he said no, then quickly said "yes, we have experts that can prove you hit him with a pebble"
"SAY WHAT?" I wasn't born yesterday! Lying blatantly like that was a no no tome. So I started my own attack:
"Look. You'll have to
  1. Prove that there actually was a pebble
  2. Prove that it did fly off one of MY tires, not someone else's
  3. Prove that said pebble hit the plaintiff on his wind shield
  4. Prove that the the fracture in the windshield happened because of that pebble and was not there before this "incident"
After proving all that, you need to tell me how was that a result of my actions, then we can talk"

So he said "Yeah, but if it goes to court, the judge will put him under oath and he'll testify. Can you say that this didn't happen in court under oath?"
I said "No, it could have happened"
"AHA!" he goes, "see? then you will lose the trial"
"excuse me"
"If this is going to court, and a judge will pass sentence, can you tell me which article in the law the judge will use?"
"There is no law for that"
"You mean there is no legal article that this falls into?"
"I'm sorry, but judges cannot pass sentences without a reference to an article in the Bahraini law"
"yes they can"
"No, no, they cannot"
Then he tried to appeal to me through religion:
"Listen, if you pay the man, god will reward you for your deeds inshallah"
"How do you know that?"
"er.. because it's a good thing.. erm.. its better to have injustice fall on you than be a tyrant yourself"
"Oh? So you do acknowledge that it's injustice?"
"well.. umm.. who is to compensate the poor man for this incident?"
"Who will compensate ME for this incident?"
"Your reward will be with Allah, god willing"
"OK, How about this: Let him take the reward from Allah, yeah? I'll keep the BD 10 thank you"
"You don't want to be rewarded in heaven?"
"You see, I don't think Allah will reward me for this, so I guess I'll wait for judgment day and find out"
"It's only 10 Dinars!"
"look, its not a matter of money. In fact, I'll invite you, the other police man, and that accuser to come to my house for lunch and dinner and you are welcome any time, I'll gladly pay for that. But making me pay for such a trivial case, with no legal base by force is unacceptable to me, especially since it was not a result of any controllable factor of my own"
"No one is forcing you to anything, but this is how it is. It's customary that the accused just pays or the court will find you guilty"
"So courts accept these cases?"
"of course"
"So if to say, I go tomorrow and file a similar case against you, they'll accept that also?"
"Let's assume that 10 people at the same time filed the same case against me, or let us reverse that. I file that case against 10 people individually. Will the court accept such cases?"
"No, of course not!"
"Why not? Do they accept cases on a whim? Ok for some, reject the other?"
"well .. no.."
"LISTEN. They only way you will see 10 dinars coming out of me is for you to go to court. Then they need to prove that there WAS a flying pebble, THEN prove it actually WAS from my tire, THEN prove it actually hit him, THEN prove that the damages were caused by that pebble not before. After all that, they need to prove which articles in the traffic law did I not adhere to which resulted in his damages. If they can not prove that then it's either the fault of the government for not cleaning the streets of pebbles"
"*laughing*.. haha..that's not..."
"OR if it's not the fault of the government it's Allah's doing for creating stones and pebbles in the first place"
"If by some miracle I was found guilty, then, and only then I will .. appeal. And I will use all of my appeals then if I am still found guilty I will pay the BD 10 plus fines and only then I will wait for my reward from Allah".

".... So that's a no? Is that your final call?"
"I am sorry, please take it to court, and I will wait for your phone call to set a date for when you can grace me with your presence at my home"
".. that's ok.. I'll just forward that accident through and..."
"EXCUSE ME. This is NOT an accident. I did not collide with the plaintiff"
Feeling smug, he answered: "Oh no, we do have a classification for (broken windshield by small stone)"
"Yes, but that is for trucks who do not cover up or seal the rubble they are transporting in which case it IS their fault, not for civilian sedans with pebbles flying off on your roads"
"That's OK, thank you"

This whole thing took 23 minutes. After that call, I started to think that this might actually be a scam. Someone with friends in the traffic department are scaring people for BD 10 a pop. Good income. No paper work. Who'd know?
I am not saying that this is the case, but it makes you suspicious doesn't it? If any government official is interested in investigating the matter I can give them more details and phone numbers if they get in touch with me.

Tell me, what do YOU think?


Sam said...

This is 100% true. The winshield of my car cracked while on the Sitra Highway last morning. Happened due to a pebble flying from under the wheels of a car in front of me.

It never struck me that I should go after that driver and lodge a complaint for a broken windshield! Now I have to cough up BD75/- to have it fixed and also cannot claim insurance!!

There has to be some allowance from Insurance companies in the policy - or isthere something now??

Redbelt said...

Sorry sam for responding so late, I didn't see your comment. But here is your answer:
If your insurance is third party, you are on your own.
If your insurance is comprihensive, then that would cover it, but usually you have to pay a the first BD 100 or so (depends on your policy) for each claim, so it might prove more economical to just fix it your self.
Again, if your windshield got hit by a poorly coverd vehicle transporting rubble or something, then they are liable. But road conditions, it just happens. Who will you sue if a rock tears your tire?

Same thing here.

ammaro said...

this is plain ridiculous, but then, the way things go here is ridiculous. no clear cut laws, and people expect others to just bow down to what they say, especially if they call and "pretend" to be some form of authority. i say they can kiss my ass. dont pay them a cent inshala they take it to higher court. wel zag.