Where I come from the word Police signifies security, protection, justice and hope. They are good people who endanger their lives for the sake of helpless citizens, selfless servants. However, this is not the case in this god-forsaken place. Where corruption is an accepted way of life. “ A goat must eat where it is tied” is the saying used frequently by those who believe and propagate that it is okay to alleviate your own poverty by exploiting and defrauding those that you where called to serve.
Over here the word Police creates feelings of fear and insecurity, helplessness. For who can defend you against those who are supposed to be defending you? As a foreigner it is even worse, the foreign number plate on your car makes you an easy target and most vulnerable. I can’t begin to number the times that I was stopped for some supposed driving error. I normally gave them their “Cool drink money” as they requested, after all, I did not want them to remove my documents, there is nothing worse than driving around in this place without documents. The money that God provided to my husband and I for our ministry to the poor, was robbed from us by those uniformed villains who shamelessly abused their authority.
One day they caught me on a blue Monday. I was on my way to the doctor with two sick toddlers and I did not feel so hot myself. I was trying to comfort my crying, feverish one-year-old son while focusing on the road when he stepped in front of my car signaling me to stop. My heart sank when I saw the dreadful gray uniforms and I sent up a quick prayer for reinforcement.
“ Yes officer?”
“ Madam” he said in his most intimidating voice, “ Are you aware of the fact that you crossed a red traffic light?”
I was taken aback; did I do that? I might have because my children distracted me.
“ I am sorry officer, write me a fine and I will go and pay it today”
“ I am sure that you don’t want to do that madam, are you aware that they remove foreign documents for violation of traffic laws? It is a very difficult process to get your documents back. I am sure you don’t want to go through all of that trouble”
Translated into laymen’s terms that meant: “ No, I don’t want to give you a official fine, I want you to pay me a bribe.”
That was it, I felt very sick and I had two crying toddlers in my car and this criminal, gray devil, was trying to get me to do something that is totally against my principles! I burst out crying. I threw myself over my steering wheel and sobbed as if I had just lost a loved one. The officers where taken aback. This was obviously a new experience for them.
The fist one continued to try and intimidate and threaten me:
“Madam, I don’t’ think you realize the amount of trouble your in…”
“Carlos, can’t you see the lady is troubled?” Officer number two interrupted the intimidator.
“Madam what is your problem?” Officer number two asked kindly
“Huh?” Was the gray devil trying to be nice to me?
“I said; do you have a problem?” He repeated in the same compassionate voice.
“ We are all sick, I think my baby has Malaria” I replied half dumbstruck
“Well than, you’d better get him to a doctor” The friendly officer suggested
“Huh?” seemed to be the most intelligent answer I could come up with at that moment
“ You are free to go madam,” He said as he stepped aside, pulling his disgruntled friend out of the way so that I could pass.
It seemed that even my children were awestruck by the kindness of the officer, the crying stopped and the silence that fell over my car was tangible. Well, what do you know, maybe this place is not as God forsaken as I imagined, I thought as I drove off.
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