Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jaful armat la Beirut - un nou episod

O noua victima. Mesajul a ajuns la NOW Lebanon, dar pentru ca deja am publicat articolul duminica, nu il punem pe site. Cu toate astea, cred ca povestea lui Sean merita sa fie citita.

"Earlier tonight, I was robbed at gunpoint. There were two men in a black Mercedes with red service plates. I finished work a little late and took a service from BarBar in Hamra at around 9 pm to my home in Achrafieh. In hindsight, I should have suspected something when the driver, who was parked across from the gas station next to Barbar where the buses stop, immediately agreed to service wahad instead of trying to hassle me for servicein, or even a taxi. He took a short detour from the bridge explaining that he had to drop off the other "passenger." He then sped up until we were on the airport road, and as soon as we arrived at the first tunnel at Salim Salam, the "passenger" pulled out a gun and pointed it at me.
He wanted my wallet, but I told him all I had was the 2,000 LL in my pocket. He insisted, and so did I. Finally he asked to look in my bag, and I pulled out a small notebook for him and told him it was all I had. Strangely enough, he seemed convinced, and even stranger, didn't ask for my watch, my phone, my jacket or my bag. At the end of the tunnel (the whole gun pointing process must have taken only a minute or so, he slowed down and I got out having finally escaped with only by paying service wahad, despite the gun. The whole thing probably took
> less than 15 minutes from BarBar to Salim Salam. I thought I had managed to get their license number, but the police told me later that it should have only had 6 digits, not 7. Unless, of course, it was a normal plate that had been painted red.
After repeating the plate number (or what I thought it to be) twice in rapid succession and then saving it in my phone, I tried to call 112, but there wasn't any reception. Then I managed to find a corner store to call from, and 112 hung up on me. Finally, I got through to someone, and they said there was nothing they could do, and that I> should just go to the police station. I flagged down some kids and got them to take me to the army checkpoint under the bridge that crosses downtown. They soldiers told me that they couldn't do anything either, so I went to the Gemmayzeh police station, where they proceeded to tell me that it wasn't their jurisdiction, that I should go the Mousseitbeh station, which is the closest to where I was actually robbed. I asked if they could give me a ride, to which the daraki replied with no conscious irony: "just take a service."
Finally, I made it there, and after several hours, I'm doubtful that the police will be able to do much. They did tell me, though, that two Iraqis were robbed at the same place (from BarBar to Salim Salam) by what sounds like the same two guys in the same car last Thursday.
Those two gentlemen, it seems,were forced to part with $3,000 and a laptop, so finally, I feel somewhat lucky to have gotten out of the whole mess for a measly two thou.

I write you this, because I hope that everyone will be cautious when taking a cab. Something didn't feel right with these guys from the get-go, and I should have never gotten in with them, but besides themsmall signs of not haggling and vaguely resembling the plot in the US warden message, I can't say what sets these guys apart from other service drivers. In my experience over the last several years, in the evening, drivers usually tool around with a friend for company and often take a bit of a roundabout way to get where I need to go.

So if I had to offer you advice, I don't know what it would be, except stay away from a late 80s to early 90s model black mercedes with a red plate bearing a number that's similar to 3678683 driven by a guy around 45-50 years old with a big bald spot, salt and pepper hair and a mustache, accompanied by a taller younger guy with black curly hair, bad skin and a dark complexion. That is probably simultaneously too specific and too vague to be very helpful, but it's all I've got to offer.

For my part, from now on, I think I'll take my chances getting pulled over for driving my motorcycle after 6."

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