Wednesday, 1 August 2007

I get busted twice: Metro cops on stop-street blitz in Jozi

I got a R500 snotklap from the Metro police yesterday for failing to stop at a stop street. I had slowed down and treated the stop as a yield sign (it's on a street that abruptly turns left, with no going forward or right), but I hadn't actually stopped dead. I accepted the fine with long teeth and no quibbling, because I was in the wrong, and I knew it. Besides, the (female) officer was cheery and efficient, and I was pleased to note that the cops were stoppng every taxi that flew through the said stop street, and meting out the same fine.

Then, bless my zimmer frame, I was stopped again today, in Craighall Park, when I executed the same manoeuvre: ie, slow right down, look left and right, and accelerate into a gap in the traffic. Big mistake. There they were, right round the corner, and they pulled me off with triumphant waves.

This time the attitude was different.

'You didn't stop at that stop street!' yelled a burly Metro cop.

'I slowed down and then crept forward!' I protested, a bit feebly.

This seemed to enrage the cop, who was clearly in a foul mood. 'Don't say that! I saw you! You DIDN'T STOP!'

'Ok, I admit it, I didn't stop.' (I was late for a meeting, and had realised that there was no point in arguing with this person, who had a large shiny gun strapped to his belt).

'AND!' roared the cop, 'YOU'RE AN ELDERLY PERSON! You are not a young person!'

'I am not elderly!' I squeaked. 'I'm only 45!'

'YOU ARE ELDERLY!' thundered the cop (who was a grizzled chap not a day under 65), 'and you should know better!'

'But 45 isn't elderly!' I protested. (I was quite annoyed by this, considering that the cop who busted me the day before had said, charmingly, when she asked me my age, that I looked 'like I was thirty-three'.)

He shook his head at my vanity. 'Now,' he said, whipping out his pen. 'Are you happy with this R500 fine?'

'Of course I'm not happy. But if I have to pay it, I will.'

A long silence and a pursing of lips. And then, craftily, 'So how much would you like to pay?'

My wizened jaw dropped. 'I. BEG. YOUR. PARDON.?'

'No, no, no, I'm not asking you for a bribe!' Now it was the cop's turn to look sheepish.

'Oh really?' I raised one grizzled eyebrow and took a long hard stare at his badge.

The cop reeled back, clearly withered by my sarcasm. 'No, in fact, you can go! Go on! This is just a warning!'

He shooed me away with a wave of his hand, and I roared away, feeling R500 richer.

When I thought about the incident later, I realised that, once again, the universe is trying to tell me something. I'm a law-abiding motorist (and an insufferably self-righteous one, at least when it comes to other drivers' misdemeanours) but I'm terribly dozy. It's so easy to slip into that Zen-like right-brain mode when you're driving, especially if it's along a route you've worn a groove in over 10 years and you're listening to music or 702 as you pootle along.

I hardly ever get speeding fines and in the 27 years (eina!) I've had a driver's license I've never been in a single accident or even a bumper bashing (touch wood). But I realised that I am dozy, and complacent, in the traffic (except when roused from my reverie to shake my fist at taxi drivers dicing with death) and that's a dangerous thing. So I have decided to smarten up my driving act. I might be 'elderly', but old bitches can learn new tricks.

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meggie said...

I loved this post! It reminds me of when I got 'busted' for performing an 'intersection choke'. Hitherto unheard of demeanor! And I felt so menaced by the huge thuggish cop, with thighs like tree trunks, & huge gun at my eye level as he lectured me about my sin. Dry mouthed squeaks emitted from my mouth, & tears sprang to my daughter's eyes, as we cowered in the car, in early morning peak hour traffic, where a bus had broken down, & blocked my lane. FFS where could I have gone??
His tone softened, as he told me where & how, I could pay. I hope his day went to hell in a handbasket!! And I would have been about 43 then too, so I suppose he found it easy to menace an 'elderly'!

Muriel said...

I had a similar experience in a pharmacy recently. I asked the heavily powdered saleslady for some multivitamins, and without missing a beat she turned around, snatched a box off the shelf and presented it to me.
I looked at it in surprise: ‘Multivitamins for over-45’s’ it said on the label.
‘No, they’re for me,’ I said.
‘And what age are you, dear?’ she asked.
‘Forty-three,’ I said.
‘Ah,’ she said.
There was something about her tone I didn’t like, so I said to her, ‘What age did you think I was?’
She looked pointedly at the box she was still holding in her hand and said, slowly and clearly, ‘Over 45.’
I bought the multivitamins for over-45’s. Clearly, I needed them.

angel said...

oh my effing word!!!
what a jerk!!!
i stick to the rules as much as i possibly can... and i know everyone says that- but i do, i try to set an example for damien! i can't "lecture" him about theft if i speed on the highway...