"Regimes may fall and fail, but I do not."
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Disclaimer: This story is like totally fictional, and I totally did not break a bunch of laws.
The first time I was ever pulled over by the fuzz was when I just passed my driving test. I went out for supper at 2:00 AM in the morning and the copper thought I looked too young to be driving - but I was let off after he had seen my papers. The second time that happened was when I was the designated driver of a car-ful of drunks (your truly included). However, I tended to sound strangely coherent when I'm under the influence so I got off free-of-scot once more. The third time happened just last week, and there's a story in that.
Once, when I was a kid, I remember being in my mother's car when she was pulled over by a traffic cop. She was not wearing her seat belt, methinks and I can still recall that dreadful feeling of powerlessness that pervaded the interior of our vehicle as the paunchy, mustachioed officer took his time to dismount from his tricked out police bike and strut to the driver-side window. I remembered how he slyly impressed on my mother the amount that she would have to pay if he issues her a summons, indirectly angling for a bribe - one which my mother paid. The price was a fraction of the hefty official fine plus a fraction of dignity. I remember that sharp, metallic tang of hatred I tasted at how casually that despicable cop abused his authority to extort a quick buck off the citizenry he had sworn to protect. That early experience completely tainted my respect for the law and of authority - they are just the club and the brass knuckles bullies wield to to get what they want.
Last week, I was coming back from my second viewing of Pixar's Brave and just as I was entering the roundabout right outside my house, two traffic cops materialised into view from behind some shrubbery. One of them had spotted the lack of a safety belt across my chest, and gestured for me to stop. What he did not spot was my phone on my lap from which I was browsing the web, and my 20-ounce Starbuck tumbler on the passenger seat, recently denudated of its homemade spirited content (specifically a Mudslide; a delicious blend of vodka, coffee liqueur, Bailey's Irish Cream and vanilla ice-cream). You see, movies are twice as good when I'm well-liquoured.
As he swaggered towards my passenger side car window, I furtively rolled my tumbler down my seat in case he catches the scent of booze from it and positioned my phone innocently on the passenger seat. Then, I braced myself for the incoming confrontation.
"Do you know what you have done wrong?" he asked rhetorically in Malay, leaning in on the passenger side window and requesting to see my identification card and driving license. He looked like he was in his late twenties and stank of too many cigarettes.
'Being caught by you' was an answer that I contemplated but wisely discarded as I hunted through my wallet for the ID's he wanted - I needed to be in control of how the show goes. It was then I realised that my driver's license had expired months ago. Yeah. It was at this point that I realised I must have been subconsciously trying to win the Traffic Misdemeanour Olympics all along. To sum it up, I was driving without a valid license, intoxicated and surfing the web on my phone without wearing a seat belt. The only way I could have made it any worse is if I was also hiding a couple of dead bodies in the trunk.
"That's two offences. Driving without wearing your safety belt and not having a valid license," the cop said smugly. "That would cost you RM 600 if I write you both the summons."
"Okay," I said.
Then, there was a pause.
"Do you understand that you would have to pay RM 600?" he said emphatically, breaking the mini-silence. Then, giving me a look as if I'm the densest retard in the world, he added: "Don't you want to ask me to help you out?"
"Help how?" I asked stupidly. He looked as if he was using every ounce of his self control to stop himself from rolling his eyeballs into the back of his head.
"If you pay me RM 150, I can help you pay the fine, and you won't need to drive all the way to the police station to settle it," he told me.
I nearly laughed out loud; the long thieving arm of the law finally showed its filthy, filthy hand. At this point, I picked up my phone and stopped the video recording of the entire conversation. Looking at him squarely in the eyes, I played a little of what I've surreptiously filmed. Shah mat, motherfucker. The features of his face changed subtly; his lips tightened and his eyes widened in realisation as he saw himself talking on my phone. For the briefest of moment, I feared that he might just dive into my car and snatch it right out of my hand.
"Let's not make a big deal out of this, alright?" I spoke before he did. "I'll renew my driving license and wear my seat belt from now on. So what do you say? Can you give me another chance?"
"Please don't upload that to YouTube or show anyone," he asked limply like a used condom trying to hold in a monster-load of ejaculate. "Delete it, please." I told him that it was also a video recording of my own transgressions, and assured him that I honestly didn't want to make this any more inconvenient for myself than it already had. He was clearly staking out the roundabout to squeeze a few motorists for some easy cash, and I bet he's not terribly excited about being inconvenienced either.
He thought about it for a few seconds, eyeing my phone the whole time. Finally, he wordlessly signaled for me to go - and went I did, feeling like a real magnificent bastard.
Remember all those times you were flagged down by a cop for something minor and you were glad that you lucked out by meeting a corrupt officer (which is odd considering that that's a statistical certainty) and got away by bribing the guy who pulled you over in the first place? Well, you're the worst. They are not doing you a favour; they are doing themselves one. You're the reason why our police force is stuffed full of dirty uniformed extortionists. These profligates proliferate and prosper because you encourage them and reward them for being on the take. Unless you're impoverished (unlikely as you own a fucking car), giving in to profiteering pricks who abuse the power our state had granted them is a betrayal of your dignity and honour. I would sooner pay my fines than pay those thugs. And I would even sooner pay nothing.
Related post: Something's Rotten in the State of Malacca
Related post: Something's Rotten in the State of Malacca
Tries to have a contingency plan for anything,
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