Have you ever wondered who dwells behind the steering wheels of cars with tinted glass? Did you know that they are above the law thanks to “divine intervention”?
On a nice Sunday afternoon, one Mercedes ML350, a big black SUV, was heading towards Faqra. On board were two couples who were on their way to have lunch in a restaurant in the area. The car has tinted glass all over– remember, the installation of this type of glass in civilian vehicles was ruled illegal a long time ago.
Passenger #1: “Cool ride dude.”
Sami: “Thanks man. It’s my dad’s you know, but all of the extras are the handy work of yours truly.”
Passenger #1: “What extras?”
And ON it wailed.
For no more than $100, Sami had managed to buy the most outrageous and illegal of gadgets. He had in his car a police siren device complete with a public address system and a sound amplifier. Is there a need to mention that such a device should be exclusively installed in Internal Security Forces’ (ISF) police cars?
Sami then held the microphone to his lips and mimicked the line usually repeated by ISF when “someone important” is blessing the commoners with his presence among them on the streets: “silver Toyota, move to the right!” And the poor woman driving the silver Toyota actually moved to the right side of the street. The incident had a surreal quality to it: a typical Lebanese– Sami had actually perfected the aggressive tone of ISF officers who always sound like caffeine addicts deprived of their daily dose of the drug. He was maniacally speeding down the sloping hills of Rayfoun, pushing the siren on and on again (the image of a laughing Joker from Batman movies comes to mind), and cars around were frantically moving out of this menacing death machine’s way.
The truly scary bit came later though. Sami confessed that he had tried this trick with a genuine motor officer. He sounded the siren while his tinted windows were rolled up and the policeman moved his motorcycle out of the way of “important man’s car”, no questions asked.
Sami had also added a fake antenna to the top of his car to imply that he had a transmission set in his car, a device usually used by politician’s bodyguards. He put his full gear to use when he was picking up his cousin from the airport. Of course, we commoners get hassled by police officers when we park in front of the airport even if for just a few seconds, however, the ISF officer didn’t even dare look in the direction of Sami’s car. What else could he do? It was an “important-looking car” and he was just a policeman stationed in a hostile territory.
*This post was published a while ago in The Daily Star