Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Pam breaks the law...

If you keep up to speed with this blog, you know that last week I backed my car into a tree on the CMF Training center property where Scott and Annelle (my team leaders) will be living.

On Saturday, one of the girls who works with us went to the insurance company to find out what needed to be done to get my car fixed. (back window shattered and back door crinkled)
She called me saturday afternoon to let me know I needed to go to the Police Station to fill out a police report and get several documents from them. We made plans to meet up with one of the guys who works at the center who saw the humbling moment to go with us this morning. (New Years holiday caused us to delay a few days.)

So we go to the main police station downtown. We walk through to the office we are told to go to, and they say we need to go to the inspection office across the street. Mind you, the office was a cart (much like an old hot dog vendor cart) across the street in a dirt parking lot. We ask the guy for the inspection. He tells us we have to talk to someone at the station first, the person we just spoke too. We informed them that she told us to come to him first. He responded with a firm "no" and told me to go across the street again.

We cross the street. Go into another office filled with police officers. They ask why we are there. Another humbling moment occurs. We are there because white girl over there ran her car into a tree and needs a police report. (I don't let on that I know swahili at this point, I am told it is to my advantage, the cops are supposed to know English.) Listening in, they argue over who has to fill out the form. Then someone asks us where it happened. we tell them. they say we have to go the police station nearest to the center, which is a tiny station along the road. Off we go.

We arrive. Much of the same occurs. Greetings. Explanations. Laughter and comments...she hit a tree? How did she do that? The difference in this station is that I get an offer for marriage. Flattered I turn them down and continue with our task. The police officer seems a little annoyed at the fact that we are interupting his afternoon, but agrees to help us, sending us outside to wait. We wait. Then he comes out and says he wants to see the tree I hit.

We drive him to the center. Whereas he refuses to speak to me in English. I tell him I am learning but don't know enough, please help me to understand better by using English. He doesn't. He sees the tree and draws up a report. (A picture on a piece of printing paper. stick figures and all.) He makes me initial it and then says, you know, this tree is in a bad place, but it is your fault. I agree. MISTAKE! He says "You know it is your fault then?" Yes sir. I hit the tree with my car. MISTAKE #2! He then reverts back to swahili and tells the two Tanzanians I am with that I will have to go to court because I broke the law. One of them says "which law?" He informs us that I broke the law because I hit the tree. Apparently it is illegal to run your own car, into your own tree, on your own property! He goes on and on and on about how I broke the law and will have to go to court and face fines andsuch. We disagree, but not verbally. We head back to the station. (it is way after lunch time at this point. We have spent 3+ hours trying to get a report!)

To shorten this story that is way too long already, after nearly 5 hours trying to get a report and a non-corrupt cop, we head back to town, get the inspection we tried to get before the accident and get a paper that says we have to write a letter and sign it and bring it with us tomorrow.

Not without the lecture I might add: "Mam you also broke the law because you did not pay attention (does he ever watch Tanzanians drive???) and if you had hit a person it would have been much much worse. The reason you must go to court is to face your punishment, cause if that tree had been a person, it would have been real bad."

Translation: You are white. You own a car. You must have money. I want to scare you into offering me a bribe to let you off. If that doesn't work, I will try to guilt you instead.

Stay tuned....returning to the police station tomorrow!

(all this to say, I still haven't made it to Tanesco yet...maybe thursday.)

1 comment:

Kristy and Ken said...

Pam, I have not fully understood your mission until this week. I feel so helpless and most Germans speak English. I can't imagine trying to deal with police.