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.