Last week I bought a car. After listening carefully to my friends' conflicting advice, I decided on buying an ex-rental. Having taken the car for a quick spin, I agreed on terms with Udi, the moody Avis salesman, and signed a contract. Just before putting pen to paper, we pointed out that the car was dirty and it would be nice to have it sparkling, at least for the next day. Udi relunctantly agreed and radioed one of his colleagues. By the time we had finished the paperwork, the car was as good as new. We thanked the young Arab fellow and gave him a small tip. He was very grateful and wished us good luck with the new car.
As we left the car lot, we noticed that irritatingly, the security code wouldn’t stop bleeping. Conscious that we were at risk of becoming victims of a car-buying disaster story, we turned back ready to shout and scream. Udi shrugged his shoulders and told us that we must be doing it wrong. But my Arab friend showed more concern and came to have a look. He fiddled with some wires and tried again. When he realised that there really was a problem, he went into the office and came out with a voucher for us to go to a local garage for it to be repaired. Grateful for his help, I shook his hand and asked his name. “Abu Mazen”, he replied.
I burst into laughter. “Abu Mazen?”
“Yes. My name is Abu Mazen”.
Thinking for a moment I said, “I get it. They all call you Abu Mazen here because you’re the only Arab member of staff. What’s your real name?”
“No. They call me Abu Mazen because that is my name. I am Abu Mazen.”
Feeling a little embarrassed I thanked Abu Mazen and off we went, thinking to myself that I could now say that Abu Mazen cleaned my car.
Hamas has been giving the real Abu Mazen quite a headache lately so given the choice between being President of the Palestinian Authority or cleaning cars in Jerusalem, I would have thought that it’s a bit of a no-brainer. With Abu Mazen accounted for, if you have wondered why you haven’t heard so much about Yasser Arafat lately, you can see what Abu Mazen’s former boss is up to by clicking here.