Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Accident? What Accident?

After close to 8 months in the country yesterday we had our first Albanian car accident.  I say first since I know that because we are in Albania, more are sure to follow.  It was just a fender bender and Glenn and I as well as the car escaped injury.

We were heading the short 1/2 mile home from the Embassy. With blinker on we turned left onto our road behind a yellow furgon masquerading as a school bus.  Suddenly the furgon driver stopped, put the van into reverse and proceeded to back into us.  He obviously wasn't using his mirrors and Glenn's insistent honking of the horn did nothing to stop his movements.  All of this took place within sight of our gate and on the corner with cameras and guards from both the Turkish and American Embassies looking on.

While Glenn and the furgon driver spoke I asked our Embassy guard to call the mobile patrol unit.  It seemed that within a matter of seconds a swarm of police, guards, and interested neighbors swarmed the scene. Each offered their opinion of what happened and insisted that our vehicle was o.k. It was in fact o.k. and we were o.k. as well but that wasn't the point.  Last time I looked, drivers are supposed to pay attention to where they are going and not back willl-nilly down the street.  It doesn't matter if you were working (shouldn't you be more careful if you are a school bus driver?) or if you always turned around at that intersection (how are we supposed to know that?).

Upon the mobile patrol unit's arrival the driver admitted he was in the wrong but insisted that we were just making problems because we were Americans.  Yes Mr. Furgon Driver, I do understand enough Albanian to know that's what you and the cadre of police were saying.  Amazingly enough, the commentary stopped once I told you in Albanian that I understood what you were saying and yes the accident was a problem, and no we we were not trying to create problems for you because we are American.  To me, its the principle of the matter.

Principle or not, there is a moral to this story.  Apparently it is legal for a school bus driver who admits he was at fault, to back into a vehicle without looking and walk away free of any changes.  We were advised that we should always blast our horn before taking any corner......just to let people know we are there.......Since the term accident insinuates that a mistake was made maybe this wasn't an accident after all.  Yes my friends, these appear to be the traffic laws in Albania.

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