I had a very bizarre experience, which I shall share. It was about 1.30am and I was on my way home. I think they stopped me because I didn’t wait for the traffic lights to change. But, as far as I could see I was the only car on the road, and as I understand it I’m allowed to treat the traffic lights like stop streets if I am a woman alone driving at 1.30am.
There were two policemen. One came to the window of the car and asked why I hadn’t stopped. I explained that it was 1.30 in the morning and since I was, apart from him who appeared seemingly out of nowhere, the only car on the road, there didn’t seem to be any point. He asked to see my drivers license; but my license was in my wallet which was at home. I only had a little evening purse with me.
“Well then I’m going to arrest you for not having your drivers license on you”.
“Oh no, you are not going to arrest me. I have 24hrs to produce my driver’s license at any police station”.
“Who told you that?”
“It’s the law”.
“I am the police. Are you telling me the law?” He is barking at me.
“Well, yes, I guess I am”.
“How do you know the law?”
“Everyone knows that. That stuff gets published. I read it.”
The policeman tells me to wait and goes off to consult with his colleague. After what seems to me an unreasonable time I get out of the car and approach them.
“Have you been drinking?”
“You are lying, you have been drinking, I’m going to breathalyse you”.
“Fine”. Except that it transpires that he doesn’t have a breathalyser kit. So we must wait while he sends for one. Now, he’s calling the police station from his cell to get someone to come out with a breathalyser kit, but the police station won’t answer the phones. I mean can you imagine such a thing. He’s the police, and he can’t get through to the police station. Shouldn’t they have walkie-talkies or something?
“I haven’t been drinking”. I tell him. He ignores me and focuses on his phone, dialing and listening and dialing and listening. My high heels are killing me. But I wait.
“You must drive behind me to the police station.” He tells me. No, I’m not going to do that, besides, if he thinks that I’ve been drinking then would it make sense for him to be encouraging me to drive. He pauses. He thinks. “My colleague will drive your car.” Hell to the No! That is not going to happen. I am not handing over my car keys. No!
Then, after a little thought he decides that he’s going to call the district surgeon. I have been here for about half an hour. I’m just tired, and tired makes me cranky and I don’t even know why I’m here. But, I go back to my car and I wait. After a while I ask him if he’s managed to get through to the district surgeon. No, there’s no response. Of course there’s no response. The district surgeon – whoever that is – must be nicely tucked up in bed, just like I’m longing to be.
I venture to suggest that it doesn’t really matter because I’ll bring my licence to the police station of his choice in the morning, and I haven’t been drinking anyway, as he can see, so that is a moot point, so can we all go home now? No, I must wait.
We wait. Why am I here? I’m asking myself. What am I actually waiting for? And then it dawns on me. The light goes on. He wants a bribe. Oh, my goodness. How could I be so dumb? That’s why we’re still here. But how do I approach the subject? I’ve never done this before. I’ve been quite confrontational up until now, so if I adopt a schmoozing tone it’ll be a bit ridiculous. I decide to be direct.
“Excuse me, is the reason that we’re standing here in the middle of the night for the last hour because you want me to bribe you? Because if it is, I do have some money, it’s not much, but if giving it to you will get me home, it’s yours”.
His eyes go big in his head, he becomes blustery. He says something loud and expletive and then he explodes. “How dare you say I want a bribe. Did I tell you I want a bribe? I am a policeman. You can’t bribe me. You are insulting me. I did not ask you for a bribe?”
“I’m sorry. Really, I appologise. I didn’t mean to insult you. I wasn’t saying that you want a bribe, I was just enquiring because we’ve been here for almost an hour, now and I don’t understand what we are doing here”.
“Voetsek man!” He yells at me, then gets into his car and drives off.