Things have been calm in Tripoli lately. There have been no mass shootings for Lebanese media not to report. Ramadan had been a more or less safe month on the city and Lebanon as a whole despite some irregularities here and there.
Yet there was something rising to the surface during those days that has apparently become so redundant that the people of that city had become used to: individual shootings.
Two people had a fight or a quarrel in the street? Their natural reaction was to draw weapons at each other. In case weapons were not available on them, their verbal threat to shoot the other person sufficed.
Meanwhile, passerby just passed by.
It’s easy to dismiss Tripoli as something out there in the North which many of you don’t care about.
This “I will shoot you” mentality, however, is not exclusive to there. It’s present in areas and settings where you’d expect such threats never to be issued, let alone possibly carried out.
It is probably my luck for Eid to fall on the day I had chosen to do my hospital duties. As I awaited the X-ray results of a patient with some breathing difficulties, the phone next to me rang. It was almost midnight so I answered out of courtesy as no one was around.
“Are you serving on the obstetrics floor?” The man asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Can you tell the man who just showed up on your floor to come move his car? It’s blocking the hospital’s entrance.”
“Yeah, no problem.” I hung up.
How problematic could such a request be, I figured. Guess again.
I knocked on their room door, got in, introduced myself and relayed to the husband what the security personnel asked of me.
“Can you call them back and tell them to fuck off?” He replied.
“Excuse me?” I said, not quite hearing what he was saying.
“Yeah, call them back and tell them this car belongs to the president.”
“What president?” I asked with a tone of obvious sarcasm in my voice.
“Tell them I’m not moving my car and if they ask again, I’m going downstairs to shoot them all.”
He had a gun on his waist and a Kataeb wallpaper on his iPhone. I simply looked at him sideways, rolled my eyes and left.
I will shoot you has apparently become the go-to threat for a Lebanese who doesn’t like what he’s being asked or getting exposed to. Nothing can justify this man’s outburst. I’ve seen countless women in labor pain. I’ve seen countless men who are standing by their wives supportably, obviously worried but holding it together.
This was a man, a sample of many others in this country, who are armed, brainless, moronic and ready to act out on it. And yes, we are all used to it.
Next time a psychologist wants to give you some tutorship on how to deal with shooting threats, tell them as Lebanese, we simply walk away and shrug our shoulders.