A can of coke and a car bomb, is just what I needed whilst on a job in Bahrain. Funny thing about this job, was that there was no “danger pay” included. Well why would there be? It was deemed perfectly safe. Or so we thought.
The job was working on a jack up rig in the ASRY shipyard. I ended up being there for 3 months (2 months longer than I was supposed to). But that is besides the point.
Due to the nature of the job and the heat, I went through heaps of technicians. Some couldn’t cut it at work, while others couldn’t stand the heat. Nevertheless, we continued on with the work.
Are we getting danger pay?
I was in about 2 months of the job and one of the new starts asked me, “Are we getting danger pay out here?”. I said, “Not as far as I’m aware. It’s not classed as a danger zone. But if you want I will ask the office?”. He requested that I did. So the following day I phoned regarding the matter.
The answer was a no (as expected) and so I told him. He said that we should be getting it and I said to him that I had been out here for 2 months and there has been no issue. However, if he felt that it was, then we could send him back.
He decided to stay, but let me know that he wasn’t happy about it (as if I was going to lose sleep over his dilemma).
The days went on
Over the next few days, preparations were being made in the city for the Formula 1 that was being hosted in Bahrain and many people were excited about it.
We however, just continued on with our work. We were getting paid after all. Every now and then he would pass a comment to me about how we should be getting paid extra for being in a danger zone. “How many more times must I tell this man that we are fine?”.
A few days later, we finished up for the day and made our way back to the hotel in the bus. Some of the guys were chatting and suggesting going out for a few drinks in the city. Others suggested a few drinks at the bar in our hotel.
I wasn’t too bothered to be honest. I would go to my room, finish my paperwork and have a shower. Then see what time it was and decide from there.
Getting ready for the night
After my shower, I decided to go get some food in the hotel bar and a drink. Couldn’t really be bothered going out. So I made my way down and ordered my meal. One of the other subcontractors asked if I wanted to play some pool while we waited. A few games down (and pints to suit), our food arrived and we ate.
Once we had finished, some of the guys at the bar said they were going down the street to the other bar we would go to. A popular place for many as they had a pretty decent live band that played every night. Normally I would have gone with, but it was getting a little late and I decided to go watch a film instead.
I made my way up to my room and turned on my laptop. Placed my laptop on the table next to my bed and put on a film. “Perhaps a can of coke with this film would be good?”, I thought (because sugar at 23:00 is always a good idea).
So I got up and went to my fridge. Grabbed a can and sat back down on my bed. I decided to rather watch Dexter, so I put it on. I must of been about half way through the episode and leant over to put my can on the table and that’s when it happened.
A can of coke and a car bomb
As I placed the can of coke on the table next to my laptop and leant back, everything went silent. Then I heard it. I was on the third floor of the hotel and all of a sudden there was a loud bang and my windows bent inwards. One of the windows was open (facing inside) and was blown off the latch, slamming into the wall.
There was a bright white flash, then silence. I levitated off my bed in a horizontal position and came crashing back down. I just lay there stunned. Then the screaming began and car horns started going off.
I had no idea what just happened, but I started to smell a rancid burning smell. Slowly I made my way to the window to look. I got to the window and paused. “Should I really be looking out this window right now?”, I thought to myself.
Well I had to find out what happened didn’t I? So I slowly picked myself up and had a look. There was a car burning in the car park. It must of been a minute after I looked out the window, when the car next to it exploded in flames.
What is he doing?
Next thing I saw, was a guy running towards the third car parked in the row. Everyone was shouting at him to stop. He kept running towards it. It became very apparent that it was his car and he wanted to move it.
Hotel security were running after him, but he was determined. He got to the car, but the drivers side was next to the burning car. But this point flames were licking the side of his car. “Surely he wasn’t going to try it”, I thought. But he opened the passenger seat and made his way across to the drivers side.
The flames were now over the roof of his car and I didn’t think that he was going to get out in time. It felt like hours, but the next thing the tyres started spinning and he drove out. “What a determined idiot!”
Are you sure we aren’t getting danger pay?
So this was the talk of the shipyard the next day. You can guess what happened next? Guess who came walking up to me first thing? “Don’t worry mate, I’m already on it. The minute the office opens, I’m calling them!”
Opening time came and I was straight on the phone to the office. I explained the situation to them and they said they would look at bringing us back.
As it turns out, the reason behind the bombing was not aimed at expatriates or tourists, but at trying to sabotage the Formula 1. Apparently the city residents were divided about the Formula 1. One half was for it, while the other were against it.
The reason for the bombing was to scare people from coming to Bahrain, thus hopefully forcing the organizers to cancel the event.
So I stayed for another month, then went home.