Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cairo's Champions

Now that it's a punishing 42 degrees outside, and promising to get hotter, props must be given to the men in white formerly known as the men in black. These men are true Cairo Champions. No one else in the city can claim complete control of traffic. In a phrase, the Cairo traffic cops have their fingers on the pulse of the city.

The health risks are immense. Pollution, traffic, heat, sun, deranged drivers, just to name a few. The financial reward is most likely low, however it is reported that some traffic cops make thousands of pounds a month through "tips." But the power is intoxicating. In a city so heavily dependent on cars, these guys have the ability to create traffic jams of epic proportions.

The job is simple enough, I suppose. Stand in the middle of the road, piss a bunch of drivers off by making them wait, and then collect tips from any car that expects preferential treatment the next time. You see, traffic cops tend to be stationed at the same corner. Sometimes for their whole career. Drivers get to know them and learn the secret to preferential treatment. A pack of cigarettes here, a 5 LE note there. It all adds up.

But throw in the heat and you have one debilitating job. I can only imagine what the temperature on the asphalt is when it's 42 in the shade. In an act of decency, the higher-ups allow the cops to change from their "winter black" to "summer white" once the temperature gets to hot. I should also mention that these same men that have to sweat it out in the summer, also freeze their asses off in the winter.

My favourite traffic cop has to be the guy that looks more like a South American dictator or drug lord. And I would argue that he has presidente-like power over his intersection. 


At 8:27 AM, Blogger Miss Canthus said...

Sounds like a terrible job!! But is it a coveted one due to the possibility of receiving bribes? Have you ever heard of any of them fainting due to the heat?


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