Car Trouble and Patriarchy in Palestine Part 2
Unsettled, I excuse myself and call my cousin who lives in Beit Jala, explaining the situation to her. She calls me back within minutes and assures me that her cousin is on his way to help me out. “Karam knows all the policemen in the district. Do not worry.”
At this point, the policeman has managed to sit in a chair comfortably while we wait for my cousin to arrive so we can resolve this.
Karam parks his car and comes to where we are waiting. He bypasses me, going directly to Abu Hisham to shake his hand. Abu Hisham’s face changed instantly, as it was obvious he knew my cousin. “Oh! She is related to you…” exclaims Abu Hisham as he kisses Karam on the cheek.
Karam approaches the policeman and gives him a strong, friendly handshake and a kiss on the cheek. He tells him to go on his way because he has it sorted out.
Turning back to us, “What seems to be the problem?” asks Karam.
“She hit my car.”
“Ok, what do you want?”
“She is going to fix the damage.”
“Ok, no problem.”
Karam takes me aside to check the damage on Abu Hisham’s car. “How much are you willing to pay to fix this? $250?”
“Sounds reasonable to me,” I reply.
“Okay, Abu Hisham, let’s go to the garage for an estimate.” They both get in their cars, leaving me. Karam tells me that he will be in touch my cousin when he knows more.
“Thank you,” I say.
A few hours pass and I hear from Karam that Abu Hisham insists that his car be fixed at his friend’s garage and that garage wants more than what we agreed on. I am furious because not only did I have to resort to minimizing my position as a woman to bring a man to negotiate for me, but Abu Hisham did not have the decency to admit that he too could have prevented this accident had he decided to break instead of trying to pass my car on a one-lane street. These thoughts pour through my mind on a loop -- why is it that an impatient man places all blame on me, why is it that I am not considered authoritative enough to speak for myself, why do I have to wait for more men to arrive, more men to speak, and more men to decide on the price of this headache?
After all of this, I still had to assess the damage done to my car. A broken corner and a slashed front bumper.