Sun 3 Jan 99 19:32
Doha? We've got a problem

Well, howdy, campers.

If I haven't been here the last couple of days, it's because I haven't been here nor had access to a computer. Seems that I ran afoul of the local constabulary hereabouts and got myself tossed into the civil Bastille over the weekend (which here is where Thursday is Saturday, Friday Sunday and most all are terminally temporally confused).

It all started innocently enough. I was at work, working as is one's wont, except if you're Muslim and it's Ramadan, or Saturday (or Sunday or Monday, or Tuesday-Wednesday it appears). Well, it was a slow day, and I was doing some subcrop porosity mapping of the superincumbant strata which is juxtaposed to the high permeability trend surface which I've just described by interactively bubble-mapping the 3'rd derivative surface of the highest known gas reservoir in the lowest thrown fault block in the central half-graben of the main field anticlinorium.

Like I said, it was a slow day.

The phone rings and it's one of the field engineers from a large, French-based wireline and well intervention company who universally drive big blue trucks whose services we utilize from time to time.

"Marty", he continued, "We're having a bit of a get-together for all the ExPats tonight over at the Doha Sheraton at 1600. Figuring that you'd never pass on free food and booze, I immediately called you and let you know the time and place."

"Thanks, Sean. I'll be there. Thanks."

I finished up the usual office nonsense (filing everything in triplicate so my manager, his boss and the Minister of Oil and Gas Resources can all lose their own personal copy), logged off the network, shut down the server, and generally covered my tracks from nosy system administrators.

I hopped into my recently purchased 1984 (Yeah. I'm a sucker for the classics.) Nissan Patrol 4WD monstrosity, fired up that big 6.6 liter diesel, waited for the air to clear, and chugged my way down to the Doha Sheraton for an evening of free feeding that would make a lamprey look like a piker. Unfortunately for me, I was having yet another bout of the "Doha Crud" and under the influence of Diazepam, Triminic- 500, Quazidor and Oxy-Cycline, and had to (prepare to be shocked) do my Carrie Nation impression. Drugs and booze, even free booze, just don't mix.

Well, I could still pack away enough free calories that otherwise would have supported a family of four for a couple of weeks. After the festivities of an open buffet and open bar, the cadre of Brits, Americans, Canadians, Norwegians, Scots and other forms of oil field flotsam and jetsam broke into spontaneous groups and impromptu card games. I was roped into a no-holds-barred round of Stud Poker where more international currencies changed hands in one hour than on the bourses of most East Asian trading houses ("I'll see your 5 pounds sterling, and raise you 6 guilders, a shekel, 2 US dollars and 50 dirhams.")

All this gaming and gambling sometimes got rather animated; so much, in fact, I received an extemporaneous baptism by beer when the lone Scot, who hadn't won a game all night, finally filled an inside straight and my lap with warm Guinness.

Well, all this frivolity had to come, sooner or later, to an end; and as such things do, it did. I certainly had a wonderful time with my comrades and armed with a couple of dollars worth of poker winnings, I made my way to the parking lot to retrieve my car and ease my way home.

Now, here there are precious few stoplights; as intersections are dominated by "roundabouts" (a.k.a., "traffic circles") which are not for the faint of heart or the feint of art. One approaches these things with a bloodlust and aggressive moves or your desiccated corpse will be found with your hands glued to the dusty steering wheel and your wizened corpse's taut neck muscles straining for a view of a Land Cruiser that will actually let you merge into oncoming traffic.

I approached one of these traffic circles, which normally busy, at this late hour, seemed positively vacant. I entered the intersection and proceeded to make my necessary 270 degree turn onto the street upon where my domicile resides.

At least that was the plan.

At approximately 268 degrees, my vehicle was struck from behind by one of the ubiquitous and aforementioned Land Cruisers. It shattered out my right rear tail light and gave me a nasty spin, causing me to bark my head on the damn visor that will not, short of a Hilti and superglue treatment, stay up where it belongs.

I got out (a mistake, I later learned) to see if the character in the Land Cruiser was injured. He was an absolutely ancient Arab, who was completely ashen with fear. I figured, incorrectly, that he was in shock from the accident (he had (don't ask me how) smashed his driver's side door on my truck's rear and was sitting in the previously mentioned driver's seat...), so, in the spirit of international amity, I grab the door and try to open the bloody thing and help the old gentleman out.

Big mistake.

He had a cell phone (which here is about as redundant as saying that in it's normal habitat, a 'fish is wet') and was frantically dialing and praying for someone to answer. Not speaking Arabic, and knowing after all my years of being an Internationalist that English is the universal language if you just speak it LOUD ENOUGH; I was yelling to the old man "Hey, buddy. You OK?". This, roughly translated into Arabic, probably translates to "If I get this door open, I'm going to rip your eyes out", at least that's the message the old man got from my trying to be a Good Samaritan.

So, here I am, 2230 at night, dark as can be on a fairly deserted roundabout, trying to rip the door off of a damaged white Land Cruiser when another, blue and white this time, Land Cruiser with these annoying flashing blue lights, screams into the intersection. Fully 3 very large Sudanese gentlemen, brandishing 3 very large automatic weapons, leapt from the illuminly-annoying Land Cruiser and start shouting to me in yet another language I didn't understand.

Fortunately, I did fully understand the unspoken language the AK-74's they carried was, luckily, not speaking.

My hands went up and I tried, vainly, to explain that I thought the old gentleman who had hit me was injured, and I was trying to open the damaged door for him to render aid and assistance. I knew that I did nothing wrong and had nothing to fear...

When I got back up after they ordered me on the ground and searched my wallet, the one that actually spoke some English asked me (1.) what happened and (2.) what was I doing?

So, I recounted the whole sordid tale (not adding the part about the party at the hotel) while my counterpart was explaining to the other 2 in his company, in very animated Arabic, his version of the incident.

Looking at the physical evidence, I still am at a loss to explain just how he could have hit me the way he did. The police also had this problem.

"He says you hit his car.", the officer explained.

"Look, chuckles", I explained "He Hit ME! Look at the damage. What do you think, I was reversing down the bloody road?"

"He says you hit his car", the officer re-intoned.

"That's impossible.", I protested, "there's absolutely no way in this cosmos, with the present laws of physics, that I could have hit him."

"He says you hit his car." the officer continued.

"Well, [exasperatedly <stupid git>], I didn't."

"He also says you assaulted him."

"No. I was trying to help him. Look at the driver's door on his car. It's ruined from the impact HE caused. I thought he was injured. I was trying to help the goofy bastard...um, er, ack, old gentleman..."

"You been drinking?" he asked, switching tacks in midstream.

"Surprisingly, officer, no I have not. I have a cold."

"You smell of alcohol."

<Oh, shit...> "Yes, and there's a good reason for this..."

<segue into the tale of the Doha Sheraton and the ExPat gathering>

"So, you haven't been drinking?"

"No, I have not. Drinking and driving, particularly where alcohol is prohibited, as such is the case in your wonderful, but stern country, is a monumentally stupid thing to do. I don't do monumentally stupid things, so I was not drinking."

"Then you have no objection to a blood alcohol test?"

"Depends. What is it (knowing it can be a Breath-a-lyzer, or other, more invasive procedure)?"

"We simply take a blood sample here and send it to the lab. We can tell if you've been drinking."

"So, let me get this straight. You're going to perform a phlebotomy on me right here, right? Are you a medical professional?"

"No, I am an officer of the Emir's Police Force."

"And where's this needle?"

"It's kept in a kit we use on other suspected of drinking or on drugs."

"So, you want to stick me, in this day of rampant, nasty, FATAL diseases, with a needle. You of questionable medical training want to stick me with a questionable needle to draw blood for this questionable procedure?"


"Forget it. I refuse. No way, chuckles. Ain't gonna happen."

"You may refuse, but your car will be impounded and you will be taken to jail."

"Fine. I'm not guilty! I did nothing wrong! I am not about to let the likes of you start stabbing me with a needle that's been who-knows-where! Stuff it, pal. I'll tell my story to a judge first."

So, off I went to the local lock-up. They took everything, my wallet, Swiss Army knife, belt, etc. They wouldn't even give me a receipt <pricks>. Adios, wallet. Goodbye, Swiss Army knife. And away I was sent into the minimum security lock-up to await the dawn and the judge.

Well, before I could do all this fun stuff, I was informed that if I refused the blood test, it was mandatory that I submit to a urine test. ("Don't I get a chance to study for it first?").

Fine, at least that doesn't involve getting stuck.

I was allowed to go into a room that was home to probably more strains of staph, strep and other infectious diseases than a damp underwear hamper at a leper colony and donated my sample. I was then ushered back to the lockdown.

Sitting there, singing the blues, about 2.5 hours into the festivities, there erupts down the hall, from the deportation crowd (persona non-grata on their way, gluteus first, out of the country) a HUGE row. There are things being thrown about, immense noise and terrific general brouhaha. All the guards run out and down the hall, leaving me and my cell mate (another ExPat (an Aussie) up on similar charges) alone and unguarded.

"Hey, mate. Look at that." He was pointing to the administrators desk, where our urine samples sat, alone, unguarded. There was also our bags of personal property and two sheets of un-filled-out criminal complaints. Seems that with all the ruckus down the hall, the administrator hadn't even gotten around to processing us. We've not been fingerprinted, photographed or anything...

"If we grab our stuff, and saunter out the front door like we own the place, who'll be the wiser?" my cell mate asked.

Not at the time noting any flaws in his logic, we both sally up to the desk, grab out property (restoring it to it's proper homes), pocket the urine samples, dump the paperwork and sidle right out the front door, free and clear as a morning's mist on the moors.

Our cars were neither impounded nor "Denver-booted", so, he hikes over to his and I mine, start them up and drive home; happy for our little uneventful skirmish with the local law enforcement community.

I got home and immediately crashed into the sleep of the soon- to-be-damned. I was awakened by my wife the next morning by her stolidly informing me that there were 2 police persons at the front door and they wanted to speak with me.

Now THERE'S a fine wake-up call. Guaranteed stronger than a quick triple espresso...


I pad downstairs to the ghastly duo and inquire: "Yes, is there a problem, officers?"

"Yes. You were in the lockup last night, were you not?"

"Um...no, no I wasn't. It must have been someone that looked like me or someone else..."

"Now, sir. In case you don't know it, the administrators desk is under constant closed circuit television surveillance. We have the tape of last night here; would you like to see it?"

"No, sir. Yes. I was there. And, yes, I did leave without leave."

"That's not the reason we're here, per se, sir. Do you still have the sample you took last night?"

"Oh, that. Yes. I have it. Give me a minute... <one minute later>...here you go."

"You'll be hearing from the solicitor for the city later today, sir. I suggest you do not leave your home until then."

"Fine. Right. Whatever."

After explaining all this to the wife <another fate worse than death itself>, I awaited the dreaded phone call. Just after 1200, I got the call. Seems that's I was to be arraigned in Circuit Court later in the week.

And the crime with which I was being charged?

Section 137.5, subsection 4b, paragraph 6i:

"Taking a piss."




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