I’m shopping somewhere in a neighborhood in Beirut. When I get back to where I parked my car, I am blocked from the back, ie. someone has parked his car right behind mine. This is a rather common occurrence in this town.
The procedure then is to walk around the other car, look around if the owner is around somewhere, and if not, you open the car, and honk its horn a couple of times.
Just like mommy seals, who recognize the call of their young out of a thousand yelping little baby seals, it seems people do recognize the horn of their own car out of many.
And so I walk around the car twice, look around, sigh annoyed, and then proceed to open the car door, which is - of course - unlocked, because I can see those little door knob things popped up high.
But just as I am about to open the door, I see, between the two front seats, a huge wad of paper money. Like a bit fat stack of thousands.
For those not familiar with Lebanese money, a thousand pound is the equivalent of 50 euro cents, or about 66 dollar cents. The only people carrying 1,000 bank notes in stacks are cab drivers, so I go back to the front to see if this is a cab (cabs have red license plates).
No, it’s a regular, albeit rather shabby Peugeot, it has seen its best years.
But there it is; an unlocked car, and a huge stack of money in the front. What idiot would leave his money out there in the open?
There’s no way on Earth I am going to open that car, I am thinking. They’ re going to think I’m about to steal his money. But what infinite idiot would leave all that money, right in the open, in an unlocked car? And so I wait some more for the owner to appear.
I don’t have to wait long. A rather heavy set man comes to the rescue; it is his car, and he proceeds to get in.
“Do you know your car is unlocked and you have all that money in the front? You think that is a very wise decision?” I ask him.
“Don’t worry, it has a camera.”
Yeah, right. A camera. The car is from 1600 BC if you ask me. The upholstery is in stitches, it’s got 3 different colors, and the doors are not locked because I am guessing they cannot lock anymore. That kind of car. And you have a camera?
“Yeah, right, you have a camera,” is my reply.
“Don’t worry, nobody will take the money,” he says to me, and gestures me to come look at the front window shield. It’s got a black beret on the dashboard with a silver cedar tree on it. That’s the sign of internal security. It’s not army, and it’s not police, but something in between.
Really, now. You think a thief will survey your dashboard before he helps himself to an easy catch? But there it was. The guy must have had over $60 there, right up for grabs, in clear daylight, in an unlocked car, in an incredibly busy neighborhood, and nobody touches it.