It's hard to stay calm when everyone is so stupid. And you don't even need to be driving to get road rage, as Aida Aly discovers.
One of the reasons I should never be allowed behind a steering wheel is not because I’m a woman which, let’s be honest here, is reason enough, but because I will have the worst road rage ever. I’ve never driven in the streets of Cairo, something I am very grateful for, but I’m usually sitting next to my friends in the car during rush hour blasting Deep House – ironically, of course – and bobbing our heads to the music like the douchebags we pretend to hate but are actually just jealous of.
I was told to expect everything when learning to drive. As my older brother so eloquently put it “expect the street lights to grow legs and start crossing the street.” But it still never ceases to drive me insane when the wild pedestrians of Egypt almost intentionally appear in front of my car. So I am sitting in the car with my best friend, minding my own business in Gamaat Dewal Street with sunstroke from the insane heat, when all of a sudden this guy appears out of nowhere right in front of our car. Now, this man is an exceptional genius because he waited until after the light had turned green to decide to cross the street. So, my logical reaction was of course opening the window and yelling “ENTA KOSOMAK ABL KIDA???” at the top of my lungs. The man had already walked away but I was fairly certain he heard me. Us Egyptian women are known for the strength of our vocal chords and sharsha7a skills after all. My friend drove off quickly in fear of what the man’s reaction could be but I wouldn’t have it. “Why didn’t you stop? It’s not like it’s our fault! The man is clearly insane. I bet you he did it on purpose so we’d give him money,” and the rant went on for a while. My friends have all learned to tune out my bitch fits by now, so she just kept driving and bobbing her head.
Although this man was clearly at fault here, being an Egyptian pedestrian is ridiculously difficult. Crossing the street here has become a dangerous, if not suicidal, sport. Not just crossing streets, even walking on the pavement is a safety hazard. Not only are there barely ever any sidewalks in Egypt, but on the rare occasion when you find one, you’ll find yourself facing so many obstacles that it would be easier and safer for you to walk on the street and risk getting run over. And while you walk down the street minding your own business, going your own way, you will find yourself faced with one, if not many, of these scenarios; a taxi driver honking his horn and yelling outside his window as if that would miraculously make the traffic move, a microbus driver with broken taillights, a broken door and all-around broken vehicle driving around like he’s in a BMW 7-series, a guy on a motorcycle blasting his music for everyone to hear and then driving up the sidewalk to avoid traffic and, my all time favourite, a guy standing with half of his body hanging out a moving bus yelling “Haram! Haram! Haram!”
The funny thing is, whenever I’m in a car, I’m usually yelling at every person I see on the street, but if I’m on the street myself, then I’m most probably yelling at every car that comes near me because I’m an Egyptian and I’m always right. Whether we’re Geistfahrer, which is a great German word for people who drive on the wrong side of the road (Germans have word for everything, don’t they?), crossing five lanes to get to the U-turn that’s 50 metres away or stopping abruptly in the middle of the street to pick up a customer (yes, asshole taxi driver, I’m talking about you. I hate you.), we are ALWAYS right. It’s not our fault that the right side of the street was crowded or we decided to take the U-turn too late. We are right. You are wrong.