Driving, Kabul-Style

In under one month, I’ve managed to accomplish something pretty cool. It took some time, and took a little guts, too. However, I managed to finally get my driver’s license. Yeah, I know, big flippin’ deal, right? Actually, yes: we are talking about an Army form that permits me to operate an up-armored SUV, not your run of the mill, wait-in-a-line-from-hell-at-the-DMV photo ID.

This will make no sense to you whatsoever, but a key element in obtaining this key wallet-size qualification form is actually performing the skill in question. Therein lies the rub, so to speak, although no rubbing was even remotely involved in this. What is confusing is that in order for me to ride in the front passenger seat – being in charge of the vehicle – I have to be able to drive said vehicle. Make sense? No? Tough shit, read on.

The opening efforts involved briefings – of course. You cannot do anything without a briefing. Most of this dry shit was accident avoidance and then what to do when prevention fails. Standard fare. After that, I assumed I’d be handed a form letting me drive and therefore be the Vehicle Commander. Perhaps a test drive where I tool around Camp Morningwood here.

No such luck. I had to successfully complete three low-threat round trips as the driver to qualify me to be in charge of a vehicle. If you’re military or former, you inherently understand the logic. So off I went, a 0200 (2 AM) mission first, then an early-morning trip with little traffic. Today was my graduation event: full-on late-morning Kabul chaos.

To call downtown Kabul traffic chaotic is to overlook the inherent insanity and evil involved. There are some traffic signs, but the tell involved is the fact that they’re not too bothered about the painted lane lines having worn off years ago. All the traffic signals, signs, and paint to an Afghan is more like a gentle suggestion. Throw in the mix that a fucker will just walk straight across a road regardless of the traffic, and of course that pesky IED (that stuff that blows up) problem, and you essentially have Downtown Los Angeles at it’s peak.

I quickly mastered the vehicle – a three-ton SUV with windows two inches thick. Somewhere in the doors, Kevlar plates were bolted in, and the underside was reinforced with steel plate. Tiny compared to a tank. I plowed into traffic, cutting off everyone in my path, speeding like a maniac, and working the gearbox to a rosy, warm red glow.

The dude riding with me and I had a brief conversation as I rocketed into the melee:

Dude: “Hey Rants, you good to drive? Traffic’s pretty insane.”

Me: “Yep. See that Oh-Shit handle up there by your melon? Yeah, grab it.”

Dude: “Wh…”

Me: [laying rubber in a 3-ton SUV]

Later, after my battle buddy recovered:

Dude: “Holy shit! You drive really well! You’re better at driving in Kabul than the Afghans!”

Me: “No shit dude. I learned to drive in Southern California. And they shoot at you there, too.”

I’m totally fucking proud of my license. They laminated it and everything, and it fits in my wallet. Anyone need a lift to the Kabul Airport? Just ask the angry bald guy.

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NOTICE: If you’re drunk, angry, typing something related to this blog, and you’re NOT BrainRants, just stop. Go play on the freeway and come the fuck back when you’re normal. Thanks – the Management
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45 Responses to “Driving, Kabul-Style”

  1. I’m not drunk, angry and I’m not you. Good? K…I enjoyed the post. Stay safe. That’s all.

  2. And now you are qualified to drive in Houston traffic, too – pretty much like LA
    (glad they’ve got those plates in place)
    Proud of that laminate ticket

  3. I do that every day! minus the ied a-hole. And the straight up danger. And the reinforced car. Okay, I don’t do that everyday.

  4. You’re BALD? this ruins my mental image of you! Fuck.

  5. Driving in Kabul kind of fits my recollections of driving in many other foreign locations during my 26 years in the U.S.N. As I recall every single city on shore leave had the reputation of being the wildest traffic in the world, although the one that left the deepest personal impression on me was Japan in the 1960’s. I didn’t drive there but the taxi drivers scared the shit out of us. No armor in those things, obviously. Number 2 on the wild scale was probably Italy.

    Humans are amazingly adaptable, are they not? If this goes on long enough we will no doubt evolve a special breed of high-survival driver with super reflexes. Call it “homo taxicabicus”, maybe?

  6. Awesomesauce! Was happy to see you mentioned downtown LA … as I was reading I kept thinking “Shit, sounds like my daily drive to work”. 🙂

  7. I’m so jealous I want drive a kevlar reinforced car. As for driving skills? ummm….yeah…not so much. As my brother once put it, “I’d rather have a three beer Eric (his friend) drive then a stone cold sober Savor.” Thanks bro.

  8. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    Congratulations on your accomplishment.

  9. Dang, Rants! You’re all growed up! 🙂
    Seriously, driving in the Middle East – I’m totally impressed. Mad props to you, sir!

  10. Watch out for those wandering chickens and/or goats (there are some, aren’t there?)

  11. A clerk at a bookstore recently cut through a Byzantine bureaucratic Gordian knot created by another clerk. The Army may do it best, but they’re not the only ones whose paperwork is redundant and confusing. When she accomplished the improbable, she blurted, “Awesomesauce!” I asked her where she’d got that phrase and she thought it came from The Blogess. If it did, she stole it from BrainRants. Damn, man! You’re famous in Canadia! Stay safe.

  12. A vehicle like that would be so choice here in Lima, Peru – just to hear the satisfying pop-and-squish as I roll over the little taxi cabs that constantly cut me off here.

  13. Really enjoy your blogs. They have revitalized conversation in our house. My husband (Archon’s Den) is forever quoting something you’ve said. Daughter (LadyRyl), and my son who does not blog, can quote all “Did I say that – Part Five”. Favorite being “I’ll slap you so hard God will cry.”

    Take care & come home safe…………& most of all, please keep on blogging.

  14. hahahah xD that was thoroughly entertaining. The next road test I go for, I’m going to go all bamf on the guy…… I have, tried everything else and failed.

  15. Congrats! So are you the 7th or 8th person driving in Kabul with a license now?
    Stay safe out there.

  16. OK, that made me grin. I have a brother who is Army & was in Afghanistan earlier this year & last year, and he’s said it’s pretty crazy too. Glad you have your sense of humor over there, eh? Good job, soldier.

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