Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Hello Mr Policeman

It's happened again, another real live encounter with a policeman, a traffic policeman to be more specific. I had my first encounter with one of these in the 1980s when I was apparently driving without one headlight. I would have got an Oscar for my surprised look, I suspect that even Meg Ryan would have struggled to look that surprised. No officer, I didn't know, I lied through my teeth. The bulb had blown months before and I wasn't sure I could afford a new one. Got off the fine with my fine acting.

My next encounter was much later, about 2004, when I was regularly driving a route for work. A three hour drive through the mountains on a relatively quiet road. I enjoy Top Gear so given I had a much faster rental car than usual i decided to do a small speed test. Now New Zealand has a strictly monitored speed limit of 100kph on the open road. I thought 100mph may have been achievable in that car on this road. It almost was, I was slowing down when caught at 134kph.

Again the surprised look, this time it was actually a relieved look to see he had not got me going any faster. We had a bit of a chat, he was away out from civilisation and there was no point in me being cross at him. He was quite kind, telling me that if I'd been going a few ks faster I'd have been walking. Phew! That cost me a bit and slowed down after that because of the points on my license something I couldn't afford to lose.

While in the UAE I've had two such experiences. The first was on my way to work very early in the morning. I was in a queue of others also getting ticketed, the road is one you have to keep to the speed of others to keep safe. The officer asked for my license and made small talk. He wanted to know if I had a family here, a husband here, all the details. He asked if I wanted a husband here when I said I didn't have one. No thank you, I don't think so. That cost me 800dhs, I did smile and chat hoping he'd be kind, to no avail. Apparently I was on the computer so it couldn't be changed, damn technology.

But last nights effort really took the cake. I was out doing some school shopping and I pulled around a group of trucks and cars thinking they had parked. I went to the turn in and no they were not parked, there was a bit of a traffic jam. Okay, I'll turn the other way at the turn in. The policeman waved, I waved back as you do and carried on. He banged on my truck, I stopped. License, registration? Well I suspect that's what he asked because my Arabic was about as good as his English. We worked that part out but not why I was being ticketed.

The ticket writer and I had the same issues and a pantomine followed that drew a crowd. There was much gesturing then they found a man that spoke some English, oh did I mention that I was the only woman in sight and I was in my walking gear? This man explained to me about what I knew I did, fair cop really. I did mention, as I would have in New Zealand in the same situation, that they should be out on the road I drive to school catching the real criminals who speed past me in the mornings. Luckily no one understood. I duly got the ticket, all in Arabic so I have to get it translated so I know how much. Whatever the fine, the sheer entertainment value of the situation was worth it, I giggled all the way home, driving very carefully.

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