Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pulled Over

I’ve just made it through the worst of the potholes on Prince Charles Drive in first gear. I shift into second, up a small hill, into third gear as the last of the potholes passes underneath the car’s carriage, and I’m about to really open the old Escudo up in anticipation of the good, long stretch of pothole-free pavement all the way to the bottom of the hill and the turn onto Kololo Hill Road. But then there are three police trucks on the crest of the hill and one of the policemen standing on the side of the road is waving for me to pull over.

It’s my first stop by a policeman! (J has been pulled over four times—more on that in a future post.) Will he ask for a bribe? I’m tingly with anticipation.

“Hi,” I say.
“Fine, thanks,” he says.
I have yet to figure out a response to this so I just sit there.
“Routine check,” he says.
“Okay,” I say.
Again, I sit there. It’s unclear what is expected of me. In the past this has simply meant they look in all our windows.
“May I see a photocopy of your driver’s license?” he says.

No one carries the original. It would just get stolen.

He studies my international driver’s license and looks unconvinced of its validity. My game plan is to be cheerful so I continue to smile.

“Safe journey,” he says and hands back the photocopy.
“Thanks,” I say and am almost disappointed that he has not asked for a bribe. Not that I would have given him one, but I am slightly offended that he didn’t even ask. However, unlike some of the other experiences, this appears to be a legitimate operation. The vehicles are all clearly marked as police vehicles. The officer wears a uniform with a name tag. There is not a rifle in sight.

Before I finish replacing my license in its envelope, the officer says, “Wait! Not yet,” and looks in the way back where I have three jugs of water I have not yet carried into the house from an earlier excursion to the grocery store. Can these be considered dangerous? Is he going to take my water into custody?

But no, he says, “Safe journey,” again and sends me on my way. I barely get the car into fourth before it's time to go back up the hill.

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