Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crime: A Working Definition

On any given day, I usually feel safer and more secure than I did on any given day living in the States. In the States I was always waiting to get robbed at an ATM, mugged in a dark parking lot, or walk into my dark house to find an intruder. I don't usually have a dooms day personality. That was just how I felt in the States. And we lived in a pretty 'safe' town!

I move to the Middle East (mental image: wars, terrorists, bombs) and I feel safer. Go figure.

Here are some reasons why:

We have some friends who live on a very busy road in town. The lock on their front door has been broken since Christmas. They have not been very motivated to fix it. Why? Because break-in crimes are quite rare. But they are considering hiring an armed guard to sit in their backyard. Their mango tree is fuller than ever this year and EVERY YEAR someone comes into their yard in the middle of the night and picks the whole tree bare, right when they have become perfectly ripe. There are enough mangoes on that tree (given the market price) to buy two flat screen tv's. When money really does grow on trees it is worth protecting!

Another example:

I do a lot of the banking for my husbands business. I am usually walking into the bank with thousands of dinars in cash. We live in a very cash based society! The guy next to me in line usually has a ziploc or suitcase full of cash. The guy in front of me is usually taking out thousands of dinars in cash, putting it into his bag and walking right out onto the street - with cash in view. No one seems alarmed by this...so I don't either. BUT, back at home, we ALWAYS lock up the kids soccer ball on the porch. That thing would 'walk away' faster than you could say 'LOOK I HAVE THOUSANDS OF DINAR IN CASH RIGHT HERE!!'

And a final example.

Getting pulled over is a pretty common occurrence around here. Especially on the highway. There are a lot of check points, speed traps, etc. etc. When we brought our car from the States, we were able to drive around on the Michigan plates for 9 months.
Here was the problem: in Michigan, we were only required to have a license plate on the back of the car. In Jordan, you have to have plates on the front and the back. We got pulled over ALL THE TIME.
Solution: My smart hubby took the back plate off, took it to the print shop, made a color copy, laminated it, and stuck it on the front of the car. HA! Never got pulled over again (well, at least for that problem).
Once again proving that criminal activity is defined a bit differently in different cultures.