Friday, March 27, 2009

So I had my first encounter with a Peruvian policia

I was on my way home from the office when it all began. I was simply driving through the chaotic flow of unbridled traffic near the center of town, when, in the most inopportune time, my cell phone began screaming at me to pick it up. It happened to be my lovely wife. Should I answer? Of course. Or maybe not. The traffic is daunting, I am almost home, she can surely wait a few minutes…right? Not really. I answered the phone thinking that there might potentially be some need that she had. I would much rather take care of it now.

In that fleeting moment when I drew the phone to my ear, I arrived at the one intersection that I fear the most. I quickly told my wife that I had to get off the phone and that I will be home in a few minutes. In essence, I hung up on my wife. As soon as I could remove the phone from my ear and toss it into the passenger seat, I heard the sound of a whistle calling out my name. I glanced over at the uniformed policeman and watched him as he raised his arm, drew out his finger, and began pointing through the hordes of traffic precisely at me.

The last place I want to end up is in a Peruvian incarceration camp. It sounds as fun as a sticking a needle into the center of your eye. Not something I want to try out for an afternoon. So I respectfully pulled over as soon as I could get over and out of the way of traffic.

I had rehearsed this process in my mind as it was bound to happen. It was game time and so on with my plan I went. He graciously said good day in his good Peruvian Spanish. I quickly replied with the most nonsensical response of ignorance. I did nothing but act like a numbskull alien with zero knowledge of his language. He tried to explain the process of paying for the ticket, how much it would cost, and how it might impact me. I gave him nothing but blank stares and jumbled Spanish phrases. My plan was in full swing. It took only seconds for him to realize that he was sending a message that was never going to be received with any clarity.

And just as I had visualized in my head many times over, the policeman gave up. He threw in the towel. He slowed down his Spanish in hopes that it would help. It didn’t. Moments later, he finally realized that he could neither give me a ticket to keep me from doing the same action, nor could he even explain to me what I had done wrong.
What had I done? Well, it was the cell phone. I am not supposed to talk on the cell while driving. I had broken a rule.

Within a few short moments, he gave me the universal wave; you know the one that says, “get outta here!” He was done with me.

I got off Scott free…excuse the pun. He checked my documents, tried to explain why he was pulling me over, then he realized that it was a lost cause. Acting dumb never felt so good. I never thought there would be a benefit to not knowing the language here. I have now discovered the benefits not knowing. I now know.
No ticket, no fine. Just a lesson learned; don’t talk on the cell phone while driving.

1 comment:

Mike & Sydney

said...

That's great, Scott. I just laughed really hard. :)