Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 2: No Beep

It was like the dog that didn't bark. This morning I hopped in my Mitsubishi Lancer (paid product placement!), slipped in the key, and turned it on (Lucky Lancer). I had not yet buckled my seat harness....

And there was silence. That's right, in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, when you start your car you hear that "beep, beep, beep" which means: "I'm going to annoy you until you buckle up. It's for your own good." Much like my blessed mother telling me to put my jacket on, when I was 6 years old (or 36). But now I'm apparently living in the Land of the Wheeee! I'm actually free to drive without protection! Oh, sweet liberty! But don't worry, friends, I buckled up you might recall from last year's blogs (more product placement! You *must* read them!), Qatar has one of the highest motor fatality rates in the world, as traffic laws are treated as mild suggestions. I don't plan to be one of those fatalities but, then again, I suppose no one plans that.....

Ahh, but even here there are limits to freedom. If you drive over the highest posted limit (I believe is is 120 KPH (about 75 MPH) then your car will begin...beeping. And beeping. And beeping. Human ingenuity is marvelous, though, so I'm guessing there is a thriving market for disabling said beepers ("Jeepers! No Beepers! Our Business Is Yours For Keepers!)

So the US tries to keep us safe from DWOP (driving without protection) and Qatar tries to keep us safe from speeding. The same value -- protecting the driver -- with two different tools. And you know what? I'm guessing American drivers would more willingly accept the former than the latter. Driving with belts may be smart, but driving like a rocket is our divine right. The more that I think about it, though, the smarter the Qataris seem to be about this. Seat belt laws are designed to protect us from ourselves, while the Qatar laws are designed to protect us from others. I don't know about you, but I'm more interested in being protected from the other guy than from myself. Yet sometimes I do wonder which person is more likely to harm me....

Back in my apartment, I try again to free the key that is jammed into my locked balcony door. I fiddle with it. I jiggle it. I tug and pull. I give up and call maintenance. The guy comes over, walks in, and immediately pulls it out. Oh. I wonder if he is thinking "That guy sure looks sharp in his starched shirt and silk tie, but he can't even pull a key out of a lock." Education is valuable, no doubt, but right now I'm thinking that this worker was pretty damn valuable, too.


  1. Okay Mark I don't get this one. Now I think seat belts keep us safe from accidents whether caused by ourselves or others. I do not understand your view on that at all. I put my headlights on during the day. That is definitely a measure to make myself more visible to other drivers so maybe some idiot who isn't paying a lot of attention might see me before they decide to make a left turn in front of me or pass someone with only fifty yards before I am going to slam into them, get my drift... Defensive driving. Fast driving works can work both ways. I will drive fast to get away from some idiot drivers that are talking on their phones or falling asleep and keep veering into my lane, or to get away from a semi brigade, or that kind of thing.. But other fast drivers who are not paying attention to what they are doing are dangerous to themselves and others yes.

    I am very happy that my 1991 Honda accord beeps when I turn off the engine and leave my lights on. That is a very good beep.

    Don't worry about the lock. And the way I look at it and I am pretty sure you do too, is most everyone is valuable in their own way. Our societies value different things at different levels--usually the measure being some kind of monetary exchange.... Kind of sad really. Good subject for your ethics class. Because if you look at Maslow's Hierarchy for instance, no one could be on the top without all those on the bottom so who is really the most valuable in terms of what they do. Really shouldn't the ones on the top do what they do for nothing because they are completely supported by all those below?

    Now when I lived in Japan a very long time ago teachers were the most venerable ones in the society. Not doctors and lawyers. And when did so many western cultures begin to worship youth over their elders? What the hell is that all about? Well, I do think I know some of the answers to my own questions but I do think we have it wrong and it should go back to the other. Age and wisdom often go hand and hand. It takes years of life experience to know very much and more amd more years to gain any wisdom...maybe lifetimes if you believe in that. I don't know.... I believe we should respect young people, respect children, they are fresh and untainted, and often honest and have a clarity to their childlike wisdom that goes away at a certain age (around puberty I believe)....Their brains are so plastic and moldable. Oh the things we could do, the places we could go (Ode to Dr. Suess) !!!

    I shouldn't get started. I would overhaul our whole education system. Throw it out and start over again. Too many things have changed. Not so sure it was ever so great in the first place.
    We should all be learning our whole lives... learning and doing and growing... instead of becoming ossified ...Not turn seventy and the only topic of conversation is what our next meal is going to be... SHOOT ME

  2. Hey, Lea Ann...think of it this way. The government says to you "you must not smoke in front of Mark, because your smoking hurts him. We don't care if you get cancer; we just don't want you to give it to him". So the government is protecting me from you. Now the government says to you "you must wear seat belts when driving by Mark". Here, the government isn't telling you what to do to protect ME, but to protect you. See the difference?