Today is an important day in the modern History of Lebanon.
Today is the day that comes to effect the long awaited Traffic Law.
Unlike any civilized country in the region, we waited till the year 2015 so as to enforce strict basic regulations of the transport system.
As I have been blessed with a lot of luck throughout my life, today is the day that I have innumerable errands from one part of the city to the other.
While I was waiting for the slow elevator, my mind was rushing a million; did my car abide by the safety rules?
I came to realize that I took for granted minor details; the presence of the fire extinguisher, which I remember the car dealer pointed its presence somewhere (yet I couldn’t find of all day today), my spare wheel being flat (thats what happens when you delay important stuff for for never ending ‘tomorrows’) and the triangular sign which warns drivers that your car isn’t working at this moment (till this day I thought that sign, which most of second hand car dealers strap on top of their cars, meant for sale) was in the compartment under the flat tire. Don’t ask!
It is under such circumstances and the state of mind it ensues that I drove to my first destination. Traffic was slow. I figured people are scared of driving today. The number of police men had increased at intersection and main roads. On a red light, they were walking between the cars. I did not realize they were handing out pamphlets until one of them reached me. For a split second I thought there was a control and I was to be handed my first fine. Since I was wearing all black, the officer didn’t see my seatbelt on so in a very low voice he whispered to me “put your seatbelt on”. I was dubious at his kind gesture and showed him how buckled up I was. He was kind, don’t you think?
That was my only alteration. However I was mostly surprised and shocked at the law- abiding citizens that my country holds:
First of all, for the first time in Lebanese Social History, cab drivers were wearing their seatbelt.
Second of all, motorcycles were waiting the red light to drive away.
Thirdly, honking was not heard the whole three hours I was on the road.
Fourthly, people were waiting in queue and not trying to infiltrate in front of you through a second line.
And for the first time in my life I thought, there is hope. Lebanese people can abide by the rules when facing harsh sanctions for breaking the law. Now of course, there was a couple of cars in the downtown area who had double parked. These cars belonged to the politicians who, I heard, were having some sort of a parliamentary session. As you may know , for security reasons obviously (….), I couldn’t snap a picture.
I got home safe and sound awaiting for my second round of roaming the streets of Beirut. However, first thing on my agenda tomorrow, get that tire fixed and find the damn fire extinguisher!
Have a safe drive everyone and mark this day down your calendar.
Lebanon is adapting to the civilized world.