I’ve been living here in Saudi for 2 years, 9 months and about 30 days. And this is the first time I have felt the need to sit and write a post to blow off a little steam.
Because women are not allowed to drive here in Saudi, I have been in the car with various drivers. Most of my experiences here have been normal, if not even pleasant. It is nice to not have to drive in a city as crowded as Riyadh.
I remember the Eritrean man who picked me up from the airport when I first arrived to Saudi. He was an older man, but he took my bags and lifted them into his trunk. He drove along, all while pointing out places to me and offering to stop and get me something to eat.
I remember the bus drivers from the recruitment company that carted us to and from work everyday. Once in a while they would stop to drop off some of the girls at one of the supermarkets. Honestly, I couldn’t make a complaint about those guys.
I remember the old Pakistani taxi driver that my friend and I stumbled upon by chance. He took me to work every morning. He picked up my friends kids from school and brought them home. He drove my friend and I in the afternoon from the university. He was probably the driver that I felt most comfortable with here. He was a kind old man. He was punctual and he was safe. Unfortunately, his mother fell ill and he returned to Pakistan.
I remember when I started my current job Y and I were at a loss as to what to do for a driver. He ended up hearing about a company that provides drivers. The first week with my new Egyptian driver was fine. When I walked outside in the morning I would find him waiting for me. In the afternoon he would pull up just as I was leaving the building. The actual car rides were okay as well, although traffic was extremely heavy those days because of construction. After the first week things started to change. He was often late or he would send a different driver to pick me up. That wasn’t a huge problem, but usually the new driver had no idea where to go and I wasn’t confident enough with my Arabic to tell him directions (not to mention that often by the time I realized that he didn’t know where to go I was already lost myself). These guys were nice enough to talk about me while I was sitting in the back seat not realizing that I understood most of what they said, despite my ability to give them directions. Anyways, I could deal with these things. I could also deal with the original driver’s impatience with the traffic, but at some point he stopped driving me because he needed to have surgery and there was quite a long recover time.
I remember that this is when one of the backup drivers he sent started to take me daily. This guy was also Egyptian, but seemed to be the opposite of the first guy. He was quiet and calm. He drove safely and was on time (usually…except the days when I’m pretty sure Y’s phone call woke him up from a sound sleep…morning and afternoon). When I came back from my summer vacation and needed to return to work, Y started to take me in the morning, but this same driver picked me up to go home in the afternoon. Then one day he called to tell us that he was accepting a job with the electricity company in AlQassem. I actually felt a little heartbroken that he was leaving.
I remember a few days later that driver told Y that his “brother” would be willing to take me from work. It seemed that he had given him his car. Let me tell you…it was a nightmare. I hate to complain about these things. It has taken me weeks to get to the point where I feel the need to do so. But the last day that I rode with him was the last straw. I ignored him and used Uber to go home (which happened to be an easy and relaxed ride).
Anyway, this is life and sometimes we don’t get the service that we think we are paying for. At the same time I’m still very positive about the situation here as the majority of my experiences with drivers have been more than fine.