mea culpa

mea culpa, mea culpa, i am guilty, i am guilty.

yes, i’m guilty of breaking the law. i do things in traffic here in johannesburg that i wouldn’t dream of in l.a.. i try to keep my bluetooth earpiece for my iphone charged, but yes, sometimes i talk while driving – without it! sometimes i even send texts.  i read emails at traffic lights. often,  i check twitter. and i’ll admit it, i’ve even tweeted.

guilty as charged. i’m not justifying my actions, but when i have to compete with kamikaze taxi drivers hurtling themselves and their passengers towards what seems like guaranteed  oblivion, my actions seem to pale. just saying…

yesterday, though turned out to be way more interesting than it needed to be.

i was doing a friend from work a favor, picking up her kids on my way to the studio. sat outside the school in the rain, getting  a little panicky as the minutes ticked by with no sign of them. little did i know that there’d been a wall-writing incident which necessitated a trip to the principle’s office. numerous phone-calls back and forth and  only 20 minutes later, they come sauntering out the school gate.

so off we race so i could make the one stop i needed to make to finish my business, by which time i was of course, late for work. made my way through cbd traffic and decided that instead of going round the block, i was going to take the one way against traffic seeing that it’s usually blocked by taxis  parked all the way down the street, and the entrance to the parking garage was only 50m away. bad idea. of course the street was parked in and 2 taxi drivers were screaming at each other, both refusing to move their vehicles.

and that’s when the cop-car pulled up behind me with its light flashing and siren blaring. the taxis parked in the middle of the street of course instantly evaporated, while my friend’s kids and i were surrounded by 6 cops, one of whom was sporting the latest in over-sized automatic weapons.

“we’re going to arrest you. you’re going to jail right now,” says the cop as he struts up to my window. “you know you did wrong. why did you do it?” i think for a moment about whether to make up some story, but decide to go with the truth; ” i was late for work.”

Man bribing a police officer

wrong answer. for the next 15 minutes all i hear is how i didn’t apologize – how i’m not even sorry. that i should have apologized, that any normal person would have – the fact that i answered the man’s question with the truth doesn’t count for anything. i send the kids upstairs to their mom and  call the production office to tell them that i’m downstairs, but i’m being arrested so i’ll get back to them about when i might be able to make it to the studio. there’s an interminable back and forth with the cops during which i get the sense that i’m supposed to start offering “cooldrink” (i only learnt last year that that’s saffer code for a bribe), but a snowball has a  better chance of not melting in hawaii, than the chance of me serving up expensive “cokes”.

long story short is that we stand on the side-walk for what seems like ages while i get harangued for my lack of  apology, till the guy finally hands me back my licence with the admonishment that i’ve got to “come right.”

as i sprint to the studio i pass the production manager determinedly making her way to the “scene of the crime”, i suppose to try and persuade the long arm of the law that i really am not such a threat to society, but that i’ll be costing the production a lot of money if i’m not available to film.

i rush upstairs, adrenalin pumping. the make-up artist offers me some rescue remedy, but what i really need is a trip to the restroom where i pee like the proverbial race-horse.

ok, so i may seem unrepentant, but you know, it’s really hard to take the south african police force seriously when there’s so much horrendous crime happening every second, but 6 of them can waste half an hour on someone driving 50m the wrong way down a street.

so yes, mea culpa, mea culpa i am guilty, i am guilty. but so are they.

(i guess i should get ready to get flamed now! whatever.)

*this post was started about 5 days ago, but i’ve been too busy to finish it till now.

7 thoughts on “mea culpa

  1. Yeah, so they make a huge deal out of your tiny transgression because they reckon they are guarunteed a bribe, but they won’t be going anywhere near more serious crimes cos not much chance of a bribe there, just danger. So lame.

    • @po what i hate is that there are times when we absolutely the presence of a police-person and then there’s never one to be found, but one small traffic transgression brings SIX of them to waste some tax-payer money!

  2. Hey Sass

    Everyone in Jozzi feels you and knows exactly what you mean, wish the f*^*&^ would just give us a break and let go… so wish the bribes worked with the right people, but then again it only works with the right people

  3. Had almost exactly the same experience, held up by the cops who were not shy to show me their weapons. They made up a law on the spot threatened I’d go to jail immediately if we didn’t sort the problem out “like men”.

    I ought to have sorted it out like a man, if men operate by a sub-human aggressive code I ought to have landed a punch to his jaw and a kick to his accomplices groin..

    • @vincent thanks for stopping by and yeah, it totally sucks, doesn’t it? now wonder we have no respect for police authority in this country.

  4. I try very hard not to break road rules, because its what I’ve always taught my knucklehead… but what infuriates me is the cops pulling stunts like this when they do pull you over!

  5. Hi Sandi:

    Its been a looonnngg time since we’ve been in contact! You were kind enough to send a black & white autographed pic to my previous home address in NJ around Xmas one year – maybe this will ring a bell? And I’m talking a long time ago!

    I have been reading your blog and many of your latest poems are great. I had to respond to your latest post – I too have had my own dealings – most recently a nice little ticket and now have 4 points on my license – and I really wanted to yell and scream at the cop – you pulled me over? what about all the other assholes out here? I keep telling people I will surely die from a heart attack due to driving in the NYC/NJ Area – its terrible – every day its an adventure – and it sounds like where you live its the same –

    Glad to hear otherwise that all is going very well for you in your home country. Maybe we can “chat” outside of this site.

    Take care – Jessica

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