In the good ole days, whenever that was, people used to respect police. (Or so I heard!) I heard two stories which are absolutely hilarious. In Asia, we pay our “fines” on the spot when police stop us. The fines are always negotiable.
One pastor friend of mine was recently stopped by the police and as the policeman walked up to his window, my friend Garvic shouted in a commanding voice “Don’t you salute a commanding officer in public!” Immediately the policeman was startled not knowing whether my friend Garvic really was an officer out of uniform or just blowing smoke. The policeman immediately stopped, stood at attention and saluted waving my friend on. No fine that day.
You think that is funny, you will never guess what his brother did! John, also a pastor, was pulled over by police for some irrelevant infraction and the policeman immediately asked for 400 pesos (about $10 fine). John immediately offered 200 Pesos which the police officer agreed too. As John was about to pull his wallet out in full view of other cars, the officer told him to drive down to the next block where he could pay his partner. John obeyed and drove down to the next block where another officer was waiting. Immediately John said to the approaching officer, “Your friend told me to tell you to give me 200 Pesos change.” The officer looked puzzled and signaled to his partner a block down and motioned with his hands the sign for 2. The first officer gave a thumbs-up confirming the amount of 200 Pesos. The officer proceeded to pay John, the pastor, 200 pesos! John immediately drove off after collecting his “bonus”!
Ah, these men are much more experienced than me. For me, I have only one thing going for me in Cambodia. My wife was the secretary of the traffic police commander for many years. She was a Major in the police force so everyone knows here. I have invoked her name on plenty of occasions. The last time I got stopped was for Cambodia’s latest traffic law: “seat belts”. So, the police man tried to pull me over and I pretended to not see him as I almost ran him over. (My first move is always intimidation.) I actually have a staff, named John also, who actually ran over a policeman on his motorcycle! In Cambodia, the cops are not so bright, they actually will step in front of a moving vehicle assuming they will always be able to stop (or want to stop).
Anyway, the officer was not afraid of my bumper, so I relented and stopped just shy of his knee-caps. He signaled for me to pull over to the side of the road where I could negotiate the fine with his partner. As I pulled over, I saw his partner coming toward me. I rolled down my window and commanded, “Why are you bothering me?” (Remember, my first play is intimidation).
Immediately, he saluted me and said, “Are you Noit’s husband?”
“Yes” I replied.
He came closer and said, “Sorry, today they want us to in force seat belts. Can you just quickly put yours on and then go away.”
“Oh sure. I didn’t know that was the latest law.” I put on my seat belt and drove on. Free of charge again. In fact, in 16 years in Cambodia I have only paid $0.50 in fines. As the driver’s license for foreigners in Cambodia costs $50 per year, I have currently saved $799.50 by not having one!! :)
I know, I know. All you Americans are shocked! You are wondering how could a missionary and pastors disrespect the police? Oh, I am sorry about that. I noticed lots of police in the US. I usually see them sitting at every blind corner, or behind billboards or the bottom of steep hills so they can collect more revenue for their towns. I think one day, they are just going to change the signs on their cars to “Mobile Toll Booth”.