Abu Dhabi Weather

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Goodbye, Jeep

About three weeks ago, the security guard at the place where I park my Jeep mentioned to me that he had a friend who was interested in buying it. Even though I wasn't really planning on selling my Jeep, I gave him my number and told his friend to call me. This didn't surprise me as I have had people approach me about selling it before. While I really liked it, a 15 year old vehicle in this climate tends to be a bit of a money pit and I was unsure of how much longer I could expect to keep it in good running order. In this case, I figured that this would be a good time to sell and possibly pick up another vehicle cheaply from someone leaving the country for good.

The fellow called me and as it turned out was a representative for the Emirati man who wanted to buy it. While I used the word "representative" just now, but as things progressed I found that perhaps the word "handler" was more appropriate. "Rameesh" the handler spoke impeccable English and was perhaps Indian. His charge was an Emirati man named "Saeed" who spoke no English. Not only did he speak no English, he hardly acknowledged that I was there. He was a younger guy in about his early 20's and likely from the countryside. At first, I mistakenly attributed his demeanor to dislike or arrogance, but I later realized that Saeed didn't see the need to pay attention to anyone or anything not within his immediate focus.

After a short bout of bargaining we agreed on a price and made arrangements to change over the vehicle the next day. That next afternoon, I called Rameesh the handler to arrange a time and was informed that Saeed was not in contact. He was probably in Oman but Rameesh would be in touch. I didn't hold out a lot of hope for that with the scatter-brained way that Saeed seemed to conduct himself. I was a little surprised when on Tuesday at 2:30 Rameesh called me to tell me that Saeed would like to meet me at the car licensing office to buy the Jeep and switch over the registration.

I was expecting drama and wasn't disappointed. Saeed wanted me to switch the insurance into his name, something I was told by my insurance company that they would no do. Then I had to drive him to an office about a mile away that sold insurance even though there are five companies selling insurance on the premises of the department of motor vehicles where we were. (Emirati law states that the person who is buying the vehicle must give proof of insurance before the registration can be switched over) This was when the need for a handler became apparent. Rameesh had to go into the various offices with Saeed to make sure that he was conducting himself in a civil manner (i.e. waiting in line, not making unreasonable demands of the staff). When Saeed didn't get the price he was hoping for, we went back to the place we had just come from.

At this point, Saeed began prying the license plates off my Jeep with no explanation to his handler or me as to what he was doing. Then he told me to get into his car (we were already at the place we needed to do the paperwork). At this point I stopped and demanded that someone tell me what was going on. Even the handler was a little unsure of what we were doing until he stopped to ask. Saeed didn't want to wait and instead wanted to go to the building next door where he was sure the wait would be shorter.

All this while, I was making sure with Rameesh that the price was what we'd agreed on and that Saeed was responsible for insurance, registration and the cost of getting new plates. I was half expecting him to try something like that and was relieved when he counted out the money.  After the paperwork was finished, he took me to the Jeep where I did a final inspection and made sure to remove the Salik (toll pass) tag off it.

My final view of the Jeep with the new plates Saeed had to have.
He said he would give me a ride across the street to the shopping mall where my wife and kids were waiting for me to finish. Although I didn't need the ride, I didn't feel like arguing. While I was making my final check of the Jeep, he made a final display of his tunnel vision by getting into a third car and driving off somewhere without saying anything. Rameesh didn't know what he was up to and when I checked the car with my bag in it, I found it was locked. Luckily, I was able to catch him as he doubled back and got the keys to unlock the car to get my stuff and meet my family a five minute walk away.

The whole thing was probably not much more annoying than the usual experience of selling a car, but it was the departure from what I knew was supposed to happen and the nagging expectation that he was going to try to change the deal somehow that made me nervous. If anything, it gave me a greater understanding of a subgroup of Emiratis that I don't have contact with. I see some of my students and wonder how they survive in their daily lives. Then I realize that there is about a quarter to a third of the population that isn't even with it enough to get into my school and wonder how they survive. I now know. Their families hire someone like Rameesh the handler to follow them around.


  1. And this, my friend, is what peope where I now work find amazing! HERE, they are ABSOLUTELY amazed.

    To be accurate, tho, the Emiratis are much better behaved than the Saudis

  2. Even though I don't have personal experience with the difference, I've heard that Emiratis are easier to deal with than Saudis. Still, this guy caught me off guard.

    On another note, "Saeed" is in the middle of buying a similar model Jeep from a friend of mine. I passed Rameesh's contact information and they are in the middle of the transaction now. Apparently, Saeed is looking to buy 1996 or 1997 Jeep Cherokees or similar models. If you have a vehicle meeting that description and are looking to get rid of it, contact me via this blog and I'll pass along his contact info.

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