Sunday, July 11, 2010

First Time Alone - With The Police

Last night on my way to cross the border to get to work there was a big detour going on because of the flooding here and I didn't know where to go. I was throwing around ideas in my head of which street to take when I noticed an officer across the way directing traffic. My mind said "YAY! Officer Friendly! He'll show me the way! Yippeee!" and over I drove to ask him directions.

He had been directing other people in the same situation pointing here or there and sending them on their way but I... got pulled over to the side. At first I thought he was just being extra friendly because he realized that I'm not from around here and that I don't speak much Spanish but my brain came to an abrupt "Oh Fuck" when he asked to see my license.

All I did was ask for directions and I found my self effectively "pulled over." Another car pulled up to ask him directions and when he turned away to answer them (them and their lucky Mexican non-white asses) I saw the back of his shirt - "TRANSITO" - and proceeded to contemplate shitting my pants.

Instead, I did what I always thought I might do if this situation ever came to pass - me alone with a Transito officer - and I played dumb. I pretended not to understand what the word (I'm going to write everything in English, but we spoke all in Spanish) "license" meant and proceeded to bat my eyelashes and smile and repeat "Where is the border?" "I need to go to the border?" "I'm sorry, I don't understand much Spanish."

He was intent on seeing my license though and I had to figure a way out of it because my license has been LOST for a couple of months now. I keep thinking it's going to pop up somewhere but yeeaahh I'm pretty sure it's long gone. ANYHOO, if I admitted that I didn't have it on me or couldn't find it I would have been in sooo much trouble. SO, I kept playing dumb saying I didn't understand until he got frustrated and said "I.D. Identification" - at which point I smiled REAL big and said "OHHHH I.D.! I have that! Here's my passport!!!" WHEW!!

So, he looked at my passport and started with the questions. "Where are you going?" "What are you doing here?" I told him that my husband lives in Reynosa and his eye's lit up, his next question being "Where does your husband work?" (He was sizing me up for how much I was worth, how much my husband would be able to pay to get me out of Transito-Limbo) I told him the truth and lol - he laughed at me! He was thinking maybe I was with a rich husband from the U.S. that heads a factory or something and that he was going to get a lot of $$ out of me. HAA!!

Anyhoo, on with the questions but at this point they were more out of curiosity like "Why don't you speak Spanish?" "Does your husband speak English?" (DUHHHH) "You live in the U.S. and he lives here?" At one point I think he wanted me to call my husband so he could speak to him - he hadn't quite given up on some $$ but I pretended not to understand and asked for the 20th time "Where is the border?"

The entire time he was asking me questions car after car pulled up and asked him directions - many asking the SAME thing that I was and he'd send them peacefully on their way. I didn't let on that I understood the peoples questions or his answers for a while but soon got tired of the questioning and got confident that he wasn't going to take me in on some trumped up charges and said "Ohhh!! It's THAT way! You told that man it's THAT way to the border! Thank You!" He of course ignored me and went on talking, I think at this point I was a fun diversion for him so I pretended to get worried and urgent and told him that I reeeaaaallllyyy needed to get to the border so I could get to work.

At last he relented, handed me back my passport and sent me on my way. All of that because I forgot that "Officer Friendly" isn't so friendly here. All of that over asking "Which way is the border?"

Gahh. A lot of fellow expats - those of you down South might be freaking out because no, he didn't have the right to ask for my license or take my passport or ask me 50 questions -and I know that - but here on the border things are different. There ARE no rights. "Rights" here on the border belong to who ever has the biggest gun or the best cartel hook-up. Here if you disobey or refuse to pay or lol - ask for a ticket - you might get your ass drug out of your car and beat or robbed or both. No matter how loud you spout out the rights for people in the state of Taumalipas, they'll still drag your ass in, take your money, maybe hold you for ransom and steal your car. That's why we pay the 70 pesos to the Transito officers and bid them good day. Sorry Southern Mexico folks, Chino and I aren't young or naive, we're merely saving our ASS.

But tonight, ahhhh tonight I played my best I-don't-speak-Spanish-but-aren't-I-cute card, got an officer that wasn't feeling too bastardy, and got off lucky and scott free. Tonight for the first time we didn't pay a bribe and I did one hell of a happy dance in the truck on the way to work. Tonight I WON!


JJ said...

I wouldn't give you any shit for what you do, you do what you have to to survive. But, you know, find your license. Make a photocopy, put it in your glove box, and only hand over the copy if it happens again. That's what I'd do.

Marlo said...

Quick thinking! At least you got out unscathed and with whatever money you had still with you and not giving them to someone for the "cokes".

raúl said...

Mark one up for the little 'gal'. :)

Theresa in Mèrida said...

When in doubt you can always start to cry. It's been my motto. tears will help where being upset won't..."my husband will be so upset ...wahhhhh....I'm lost...wah...."
I have paid a multa or two directly to the transito....sometimes it's just easier...I agree with the get a photocopy, get one of your passport and/or visa too. Also don't give it to him, just show him the copies..
You did well!

Carmen said...

And you're going to hit the DMV on Monday, right?
Normally when I don't have something I need like that, I never worry about it until I figure out I really, really need it. I am the biggest procrastinator but when I realize what COULD have happened in whatever situation, I normally then make that my very next priority.
So glad it went well for you though. Cuidate!

Leah Flinn said...

It's not really any better here in Veracruz. If you have US plates, or look like you may have money, you will be pulled over more easily. There aren't as many foreigners coming & going here, but you still have to deal in the corrupt transitos. You played your hand perfectly ;-)

Sunshine said...

A copy is a great idea! I'm going to copy my passport and ID right away. What a great idea. Bless your heart, so glad that you got out of that one ok. I may have had to just drive off. That does sound a bit scary though. Hope you got to work safely tonight. After our COMPLETE MEXICAN DAY! I saw the road block on the way home.....scary for sure!

Larry Prater said...

Congrats, Lindy, you done good.

On Mexican Time said...

Awww...again, I feel sooo bad for you!! I don't know what I would do in the situation. I think I would cry, and not pretending, I actually think I would BAWL!!! I just can't believe it. I mean, I can, because I do hear these things allll the time, but F*CK!!!! You guys need to move to Cancun!!! LOL!!!

Ritamg said...

Hey Lindy, I did the same thing the other day. I was all confused about the bridge so I asked officer friendly which way to the border. He was helpful in my case and I didn´t have to show ID. But you are right about the ¨no hablo espanol¨ bit. It is the best way out of a sticky situation.

Refried Dreamer said...

Kudos to you! F*ck the police. No,they don't have the right to ask you for ur license. I had cops in TJ harassing me relentlessly.... and they'll try to scare the shit outta you. Where's your husband? What does he do? Mostly, I've learned that if you're a woman by yourself, they really don't try to get bribes, only when men are in the car. Machismo shit? Maybe. but I have yet to pay a bribe when I'm riding solo.

and I'm okay with that. keep rocking your white "goodness."

Breezy said...

Starting next summer I will probably be crossing the border daily to work in the US while living in Mexico with my husband. I'm very nervous about the process and since you seem to be quite an expert (truly!!) - would you mind answering some questions I have?? If not, I'd love to hear from you! :)

PuertoVallartaGirl said...

it told you you rock. I'm trying to get caught up. but it is so true.

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

I just realized I didn't reply to any of these comments! CRAP!! But lol I read them and appreciated them!!