Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Caught Stealing


Punishments for stealing here in the Kingdom do indeed include chopping off of hands, although there are a number of conditions that must be met, so it doesn't happen just every day - the public squares aren't just littered with severed hands or anything.

And as with indeed almost all of the various harsh punishments here -- beheading and crucifixion being two of the worst, though they fortunately do the first before the second -- the victimized can decide to lessen the punishment of the criminal, or even forego it entirely.)

Nonetheless, it seems there's a fair amount of petty theft and vandalism around here. My office mate warned me he had a scooter stolen from outside a friend's house, and his bicycle was smashed up right outside the local supermarket.

This is mostly the work of bored local young men, of course.

I often go down to the local "single guy beach" to swim in the evening or morning. There's a lot of coastline and beach near here; as this is an industrial area featuring one of the largest petrochemical refineries in the world, the company and government seem to have gone all out to landscape the area and make it look halfway attractive. (That doesn't take the sulfur out of the air on still days, however.)


I almost always ride my bike down there and as there are usually few people around -- occasionaly Phillipinos from the factories, but rarely anyone else -- I didn't usually bother to lock it, and just left my bag sitting on a bench or a table while I swam.

Last week, however, I was in the water swimming when two Saudi young men started yelling for me and waving their arms. I looked up to see a silver Corolla pulling away from the table where I had left my bag -- and noticed my bag wasn't there.

I swam to shore quickly, and the two young Saudi guys, who didn't speak English, indicated they had the license number of the car and one dialed the police on his cell phone.

At that, the Corolla turned around and raced by -- my bag flew out of the passenger side window and landed in the dust at my feet.

As it happened, there was nothing in it except a towel, my sunglasses and a t-shirt; my keys were there too, however, and that would have been a hassle. But nothing was missing from the bag, even my sunglasses.

The two Saudi guys who didn't speak English began jabbering away in Arabic, interspersed occasionaly with the word "mafia." They indicated that I should use the bike lock that dangled from my handlebars.

I thanked them and they drove off.

Thus I survived my first brush with the Middle Eastern Towel Stealing Mafia.

And who says life in the Middle East is dull?

3 comments:

stevie austin said...

nice.

but now you mention it, how come you don't have lots of stories about run-ins with the russian mafia ?

you were there 7 years, in the clubs, getting drunk, sleeping with chicks, etc. This must have kept you in some proximity to the local mafia.

I had a a few run-ins with some folks in my time teaching, and looking back on it am pretty happy i got out when i did cos i think my face was starting to be recognized by the wrong kinds of people.

Anonymous said...

When you're at the Gay Men's Beach, do you often get action? Maybe a glory-hole?

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