Sometimes you need a hero. Sometimes, as Dalia Awad finds out, you get three. Even in ridiculous situations...
I love it when it rains in Egypt. The whole scene is pretty novel to me having, for the first 21 years of my life, only visited the motherland in summer holidays. So you can bet I was pretty excited this morning when I heard the wind and looked up into the grey skies. I needed the right outfit, of course. Something with hood. Boots, for sure. Maybe a hat? Definitely a hat. Today is definitely a hat day, I thought, as I gave myself a mental pat on the back for leaving my house on time.
So there I was, driving along my regular route, blasting Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die and singing along like I was in some epic music video where it rains in the desert and the heroine wears a super cool hat. At one point, somewhere between the Ring Road and the Saft El Laban Corridor (I.E in the middle of nowhere) the sun broke through the clouds and I got to wear my sunglasses as well as my hat. It felt awesome. Feeling like a rock star, it wasn’t long before someone noticed – or so I thought – my tasteful use of head and face accessories and my brilliant singing and started beeping at me and waving from his car. Just as I slowed down and opened the window to give him a piece of my mind, I heard a terrifying noise. I was driving, pretty fast, on a fully-deflated tire.
I pulled over in the middle of the middle of nowhere, as quickly as my flat tire would take me. I stepped out and into a puddle (so much for the right outfit) and rushed to the trunk of my car, only to find that my spare was flat too. They say that when it rains, it pours and this felt like the start of monsoon season. Helpless, cold and stranded on probably the most desolate spot on all of Cairo’s highway infrastructure, I was about to break-down and cry. Then I thought about the epic music video and the heroine with the super cool hat. What would she do? Before I had an answer, someone pulled over to help. A young guy with tinted windows, I should have been a little apprehensive. Instead, I opened up the trunk, pulled out the flat spare, locked the doors and hitched a ride to civilisation, while sending a couple of oddly-calm text messages. Music video heroine would stay calm, I thought. Music video heroine has hitchhiked, carrying a spare tire loads of times.
Thankfully, I had no reason to panic. The young guy and his tinted windows were perfectly polite, discreet and efficient. He dropped me off at the first tire shop we found and got on his way. I didn’t ask his name, busy responding to the understandably alarmed texts I got back, but today his name is Hero #1.
At the tire shop, the handy little owner saw the sight of my muddy jeans, my lack of car and my stupid hat (Now that I was out of the confines of my car-based fantasies, the hat was looking pretty silly. I quickly took it off.) and brought me straight to the front of the queue. He didn’t ask any questions, he didn’t rip me off and he got my tire back to top form in 15-minutes flat. His shop said Abdel Rahman on it, but today his name is Hero #2.
I was miles away from my car, which was parked on the one-way portion of the usually-convenient Saft El Laban corridor, meaning I had to take the long way round to get to the beginning of the route. It was only then that I started to panic a little. Music video heroine might get into cars with strangers and get shit done, but she sure didn’t know how to change a tire. I explained the situation to Hero #2 who quickly got on his phone and made some calls. Before I knew a taxi pulled up in front of me, and the middle-aged driver told me not to worry, he’d change the tire for me.Hero #3 loaded up my tire, which I’d began to refer to as Wilson in another fantasy that I was as heroic as Tom Hanks in Castaway, and we were on our way to my car.
That’s if my car was still there. With no hard shoulder, I’d blocked the left lane with my lame car, where it was just begging to be towed or broken into or stolen all together. Hero #3 offered some friendly advice about tire pressure and the such without over-talking the way taxi drivers do. But the closer we got, the more closer I was to losing my cool. Car troubles I can deal with, a missing car was too much to handle. The highway seemed longer than ever, and Hero #3 saw me put my hat back on and realised I was preparing myself for the dramatic disappearance of my car.“Matkhafeesh,” he said and, like magic, we turned a bend in the road to find the car, just as I’d left it. In a few minutes, my car had regained mobility and I was on my way, with Hero #3 refusing to take money but graciously accepting a box of tissues for his muddy hands.
So yes, when it rains, it pours. But you can always count on a few heroes to save the day, especially if you act like a hero too.