Ray Petersen –
I saw a man driving, with a child, probably his son, standing on the front passenger seat of his car. I asked the man, “Why are you driving with that kiddie standing on the seat and not in a child car-seat?” The man replied, “It’s okay, we are just going to Lulu to buy my son a child car-seat, so everything is okay. Ma mushkilah.”
I saw the man again later, and he was doing 120 kmh in a 100 kmh zone, with his son still standing on the front seat. Again I asked him, “What are you doing? You know that the speed limit is only 100 kmh don’t you?” He responded, “Yes, but if I don’t hurry, I won’t get to Lulu before it closes, and I will not be able to buy the child car-seat to keep my son safe in my car. But anyway, maybe you are right, so Ahmed, sit down.” And with that the boy sat down, and the man drove off.
I saw the man a short time later and he was driving even faster, with his son again standing on the front passenger seat, but I could also see that the man was looking at the screen on his phone while he was speeding down the road. So I said to him, “I see that you are not only driving even faster than before and your son is still standing on the front seat, and you are looking at your phone. Please Mister, can you be, and drive safe?”
“Sir, I realised after you spoke to me earlier, that I’m not sure if it is Lulu or Carrefour that has the child car-seats at a reduced price, so I was just quickly checking on the Internet, which one it is, because if I go to the wrong one, I will not have enough money for the child car-seat. I didn’t realise that I was travelling so fast, and because I was distracted by the Internet, I didn’t realise that Ahmed had stood up again after I told him to sit down, earlier. Thanks for your concern, but I must go now. Masalamah.”
Much later, I saw the man, with his son again standing up on the front seat. This time the man was not speeding, but winding his way through the traffic at the busy Firq intersection, steering with only one hand, as his other hand was full — with his phone, and he was chatting away merrily as he weaved in and out
of the traffic. So I asked him, my patience being like that of a Saint, what he was doing with his son standing on the front seat, driving recklessly in heavy traffic, and talking on his phone at the same time?
“Mister,” he replied, “You don’t understand me. I am trying to do this and you are always asking questions. I am on the phone because I think I may be late to the hypermarket. If I am late, I won’t be able to buy the discounted child car-seat, so I was calling the store to ask if they will wait for me till I arrive in ten minutes. Ahmed must have stood up while I was on the phone, and as you can see I have only two hands, so what can I do?”
“Sir,” I said, “You must love your son more and your phone less. A child car seat is a necessity for your child, and you should really have left him at home with his Mum, while you went to buy the car seat. Don’t you agree?” “Mister!” He cried out,
“I must listen my son, my wife, my daughters, my mother, my mother-in-law, and the police. Am I no longer my own man?”
To that, there is no answer that will please any of us men. But that, like this was, is a story, for another day.