cohn17

December 3, 2008

Those Darn Albanians

Filed under: general — cohn17 @ 1:59 pm

I’ve titled this posting gently, instead of calling it “Those F—–g Albanians” as I would have liked to have done. The reason for this is that my nieces or nephews might see this blog entry, and I don’t want them to get the right impression of how I deal with annoying people. The subject of this entry is, of course (and possibly again), traffic in Albania. Albanians are the warmest, friendliest people when they in the open air. Even around cars, they’re helpful, for example, guiding you into a parking space. But put them into automobiles themselves, and they become nihilistic, egotistical bastards whose only concern is to get in front of you, no matter what it takes to cut you off.

Last night I was driving through town to pick up Abby from work. It was rush hour, and bad weather, so the roads were more congested than normal. Unpleasant, but not unexpected, so I inched my way up the boulevard without too much impatience. However, when I was waiting at the intersection of one of the side streets – two lanes in each direction – I saw how a fleet of oncoming cars had lined up on the opposite side of the road, i.e., in my lane, to turn left rather than wait behind the cars that were continuing straight. Worse, there was a traffic cop standing on the corner, and he didn’t see anything wrong with this. When the light changed, I naturally charged in, horn blaring, and I yelled to the cop “Janë në rradhën time!” (they’re in my lane), with the hope that he might actually control the traffic and force the drivers back into their own lanes; instead, he just told me “Avash, avash” (relax, take it easy), and let them all through the intersection – except that he made a token show of yelling at the last guy in the line for talking on his cell phone as he drove. I was tempted to risk arrest by simply parking my car in the intersection and picking a fight over his traffic direction skills, but I couldn’t imagine the embassy brass, not to mention my wife, having much sympathy for me if I had gone ahead and done it.

Surprisingly, traffic was not tied up by the factory fire that we saw on the highway as we came back from the airport after our Munich vacation, about which I’ll write more later. A hidrosanitaire factory, whatever that is, caught fire just before we landed; we reached it about half an hour later. People pulled to the side of the road to watch the action, but they didn’t just slow to a crawl and block traffic while they viewed the disaster, as rubberneckers would have done in the States. Go figure.

Fire at Henry Hidrosanitaire; smoke billows into the sky as spectators watch; a lone firetruck parked to the right had made it to the scene after half an hour; people watching from the pedestrian bridge.

I tried to contact a news service through an acquaintance at Reuters so I could sell these to the local papers, but he was unable to find anyone to take my photos. Still, it was great fun to run up and down capturing news in the making.

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