In February 2012, the story about how a Zaatar w Zeit valet parking hassled and then hit someone who was trying to park in front of ZwZ in the early AM hours made the rounds. It sparked outrage (which naturally eventually died away) and even made it to the news. You can read all about it here.
The time of the following story is a few months later, on December 29th 2012, when a friend of mine named Jad Rahme tried to park in front of 3enab in Gemmayze and was hassled by the valet parking person and then by the restaurant’s manager. His story is currently gaining attention on Facebook (link) and I figured I’d help with sharing it as well:
Yesterday night at 0:45AM we parked in front of the restaurant Enab Beirut in Mar Mikhael. The valets come to us and tell us that we can’t park here because they keep this place empty for the restaurant. That’s the second time I face the same issue in front of the same restaurant and the first time I called the manager who apologized and told the valet to let me park. So that’s what I did yesterday but it seems like this time the manager took it as a personal issue against the restaurant.
The manager made it clear that I can legally park here but that he don’t want me to park here because he wants to keep the place empty in front of the restaurant. To make it short, after hearing lovely words from the manager like “Akalna khara haydik el marra” and after he shouted “Iza 3ambtethaddene soff hon w fell” we left because we suspected that this will lead to the valet scratching the car or doing any similar vandal act.
I don’t know how many clients they will lose if we park in front of their restaurant at 1 in the morning but what’s sure is that they lost me as a future customer because I was planning to try this restaurant after hearing some good stuff about it in a family lunch few months ago.
To all the older generation who keeps on telling us “We count on the younger Lebanese generation to make this country a better place”, what do you expect from us if we can’t even park on a public parking spot? If we can’t park in a public spot that is meant to be for anyone how do you expect us to solve bigger problems like infrastructure and electricity?
With the hope that one day Lebanon will be run by a state and a government rather than valets and NGOs.
3enab is a restaurant that has been mentioned on my blog before to point out its severe breach of the smoking ban, despite sporting a sticker on its main door advertising a non-smoking environment. You can check the pictures here.
Despite reporting the place, the authorities didn’t even bother which is proof enough – at least to me – that our so called tourism police is in with our restaurants to violate the smoking ban. How many restaurants actually respected the no-smoking law on New Year’s Eve? Almost none.
Regarding the issue at hand, I personally always try to find a place to park without resorting to Valet Parking. But anyone would tell you that trying to park anywhere in Achrafieh on a Saturday (or any other day for that matter) is a near impossible task. I know it shouldn’t be this way but what can you do?
If, by some stroke of bad luck, I end up having to park somewhere in front of a shop, the least that I should theoretically expect is not to be bad-mouthed or hassled or even beaten. But Lebanon is all except theoretical. The police which couldn’t care less about the smoking ban won’t care about an issue that’s been going on for far longer. The authorities which have no problem eating away your rights whenever they feel like it won’t be bothered by some valet parking employee hassling you.
Sometimes things are just the way they are and you can’t really hope to change any of them. With each passing day, this is becoming my realization towards my country. I may love it to pieces but how can I expect to make those needed massive changes when a parking spot has become a commodity, when demanding for a law to be applied is met with apathy, where regulatory laws are always met with ridicule and where those who should look after you only care about looking after themselves?
This is 3enab’s Facebook page (here) if you feel like complaining.
Very Good Piece Elie. I hope you had a great holiday break. In my brief stay in Lebanon for the holidays, I too have encountered an interesting experience. My family and I decided to watch comedy night at playroom Zalka. I drove them there and when I arrived I found several parking spots that were about a 5 minute walk. For reasons we all know I did not want to park with the valet, so I decided to drop off my family in front of the place and then go back to park. However, the valet rules seem to be much stricter than any of us think! While I was walking back to playroom,one of the valets came to me and told me: “Bit7esibne fiya?” For the non-arabic readers, it means “Will you please pay the parking fee?” At first I thought he was kidding, but he was dead serious. He wanted me to pay him at least 3 dollars because, and according to him: “Everyone pays us when they park on this street.” Of course I refused to pay him and I reminded him that I parked legally. The questions always is, will they scratch your car and make sure they cost you at least 100 dollars? Is it worth it? There is something very very wrong with this country….First of all, it seems like walking to your destination, be it dinner,drinks or anything else, is totally unacceptable. I guess this meme does describe how some Lebanese people think (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=184393281664659&set=a.183024498468204.31722.183017615135559&type=1&theater).
Its a pity…..
Second, we pay a lot of taxes to the Lebanese government to protect us, and our rights. If I call the police and report this valet, what do you think they would tell me? But what if I was an American, Arab or European tourist? Do you think I would even consider coming back to this country? Do you think I won’t tell my cousins, friends etc… that in this place, laws are not respected AT ALL?? I leave it to you to judge….When will we set off to become a better safer country, and touristic hub?
I have a similar story Gilbert. I was with my cousin in Kaslik on a Saturday and by some stroke of random luck, we found a place to park. So we did.
Next thing you know, this man appears out of nowhere asking us to pay him $2 because the spot – which is on the side of the road – was his.
I didn’t let it slide. I made sure he knew exactly what I thought of him and people like him. But we moved the car because there was nothing else we could do.
I think we can all agree that the situation is miserable – and it all starts with these tiny laws that people overlook. Where’s the municipality of Kaslik in all of this? I’m sure they have some under the table dealing with the parking services.
This applies to the rest of the country as well and its “more famous” places. Te3tir is the word.
It seems that we all have our encounters with the valets guys. Which brings up a question, who do you resort to in this case? Who protects our rights?
Last time I was in Lebanon was in January 2012. A close friend invited me to join at their Kaslik nightclub party. I do not remember the name but I know it is in the same street as Akil Bros, to the left.
It is worth mentioning that this is mainly a residential area and clothes stores, it was a week day and there was ample parking on the whole street where the night club is located.
With a lot of friends who work as ‘valet’ and having a car that is nothing to brag about, I knew it would not get the best attention. Also, I think I am a very healthy young man who can park his car on his own, I do not care about the ‘prestige’ of handing my car to a valet in front of the entrance. I asked my friend if she minded walking a minute or two and she understood.
I drove about 300 or 400 meters away from the club, parked in a dark alley in front of a building that was still under construction. Please note that the valet gang had the yellow tapes, the crime scene ones, all over the street until where I parked. I made sure I was not parking in their RESERVED spots.
I walk with my friend towards the club and then one of them runs to me asking me to move the car. I asked him for a reason, he said they need to park. I explained that I was going to the same night club he works for, he replied saying that in such a case I have to give it to them.
Last thing I checked, a valet is supposed to be voluntary not compulsory. Any way, I told him I am not moving the car. As I take the steps on the stairs leading to the club, the gang boss, the manager of the valets it seems shouts out “Ya M3allim” which is slang and definitely inappropriate to be used with customers, not even strangers. All he way across the street, this guy was shouting and making a scene, one that I was not willing to include my female friend in. I replied, having to shout across the street, ” There is no need to shout, come and talk to me, and don’t call me M3allim”.
I guess there is not point in showing respect to people who do not appreciate it, he replied with a stronger voice saying : ” 3asa t3allim” – not sure how to translate that and maintain integrity of disrespect.
Anyway, I avoided the scence, walked my friend in to her friends then apologized and came out with fear of having my car hit, since it had happened to me once before, in front of the police.
I went straight to the man, asked him what he wanted : ” He insisted that I remove my car.”
As naive as I was, I kept referring to rights and laws, explaining that I was parked in a legal spot and that he needed a municipality order to reserve all the street. He replied : ” We are the municipality here and started cursing”.
At that point, not wanting to resort to retaliation with curse words, I replied: ” It is my fault to steep down to your level and try to reason with you. People like you do not deserve respect.”
I have to admit that I was starting to get threatened as the rest of the valet gang gathered around us and I was saved by an old man working with them. He must have understood my situation, approached me saying; “give him 5,000 L.L. equivalent to $3” and they will let it all go.
Despite not approving to succumb to the tyranny of outlaws, I wanted to enjoy the rest of my night, save my car and get out of there safe.
I paid my dues and was left in peace.
In this country, there is nothing to protect us from outlaws. If I, as a Lebanese, cannot get my rights I wonder how the tourists are treated.
Please keep in mind that I have not been living abroad fora long time. I was born and raised on the streets of Beirut but hate to resort to those methods….
It is a pity that things like that happen in Lebanon…I am wondering if this blog can somehow encourage the laws to be applied. Elie do you think there is something you can do given that your blog is well read?