Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Police & I

I have reached a very honest conclusion: There is something about me that attracts the Police. Maybe it’s the colour of my car-It’s yellow, it’s so yellow I’ve often been asked if I won it during an MTN promo, or maybe it’s me, I know say I no wowo, lol, or it could also be the way I look- gullible, yeah, until I open my mouth :). There’s a 99-1% chance that I’ll get stopped wherever there’s a congregation of hungry Policemen, check point I meant to say.  Below are my favourite checkpoint stories.
I was driving along the popular Suya-Spot road when I was flagged down by a Policeman flashing the beam of a torchlight in my face in the hot afternoon sun. ‘Park’ he yelled,
standing legs at ease right in the middle of the road. For a fleeting second I was tempted to hit him, just a little, enough to dislocate something; but then I remembered the awful smell of Surulere Police Station, and decided to respect myself and park. He motioned for me to wind down. I did.

Police: Hello fine sister (smiling to reveal tobacco stained teeth)

Me: Good afternoon Sir (Feigning boredom and slight irritation)

When Mr Police guy realised I wasn’t going to play along, he requested for my particulars. After studying my driver’s licence like it was a sheet of papyrus from the Vatican, he said, ‘Why you yellow for real life pass for the picture?’ I looked at him incredulously and said nothing. How do you answer a question like that? And then he snapped ‘Answer me! I’m talking to you, you are looking at me as if you be Kurma (deaf & dumb in Hausa language). Do you know who am I? It took a lot of control for me not to burst into delirious laughter. I was tempted to ask him ‘who you are?’ After ensuring I understood his importance in the equation called Nigeria, he let me go.
Again I got stopped by a lone Policeman further down the same road. I was on a short leash that day and was ready to blow up anything in my path. It takes a lot to catch me in a bad mood, but that day I was BAD itself (put that in font 46, Arial black, in bold, underlined and italicized, lol) seriously. ‘Park!’, he yelled, striking the same pose as his predecessor. I wondered if the pose was part of their training. I parked. He demanded for my particulars; I gave them to him. After flipping through in seconds, he returned them. ‘What’s in your boot?’ he asked. Nothing, I said. Open the boot let me see. It’s open, I replied, my seatbelt still securely fastened. ‘Come down and open it’ he ordered. For some funny reason, I ran out of patience and did a very stupid thing. I hissed and drove off.

I thought about my family and how they would receive the news of my death, about my Clients and how they would manage. I wondered what would be written on my tombstone. It occurred to me that I would die not knowing how much I had in my bank accounts and who I even penned down as next of kin. I pictured my kid sister grieving for six months and then wheeling my collection of jeans to the tailor down the street-to reduce the waist and hip size. I was pained I didn’t even have a chance to get married and be called mummy somebody. All these things I thought of within the fifty meters it took me to connect to Ikorodu road because I was sure the Policeman would kill me and label me a suspected armed robber, never mind that I was driving.

Just as I managed to squeeze into a lane, Bond himself appears without the blond, on a powerbike; Okada I mean. He got down, struck that same pose but this time with his gun pointed at me and screamed, ‘Park’! I smiled. I was already involuntarily parked, thanks to the bumper to fender traffic. I got down, angry, very angry. I yelled right back at a Policeman who had a gun pointed in my face. I’ll save you the drama. I’m alive to tell the story, so it means I sorted it. Till this day I wonder what I was thinking.
I was in a mad rush for my sister’s NYSC passing out parade. I took a turn and noticed a passerby winking at me funny, muttering something. I thought ‘Oh well, I must really be looking nice’, until I drove into the waiting arms of LASTMA and my favourite people-the Police. I was accused of driving the wrong way and slammed with a 75,000 naira fine, payable immediately and without receipt. Thankfully, I had to deal with a woman. I felt I might get off easily, right? Wrong! She asked how much I had, I said I had just 1,800 naira and I was planning to buy petrol from the cash. She laughed, and quipped ‘my pikin abeg no be crayfish we dey sell. Even if you give me 35,000 naira here, na out of pity I go collect am’. Yeah right! I had more money in the car, but just refused to part with my hard earned cash. ‘I will deflate your tyre and tow this vehicle to the station!’ she threatened.

I wore my puppy face look and stood there for all of 15 minutes, and then a miracle happened. She called me and asked me to bring the money I had. I gave her. She tucked 1,500 in her pocket and gave me 300 naira, and with a lot of sympathy said ‘Use the 300 take buy petrol so that you no go miss your sister parade’ I nodded, thanked her and left. As I drove off I saw a commotion through my rear view and slowed down for a little olofoforing:

Police: This is our check point why should we give you 750?

LASTMA: We are in charge of vehicles and traffic violation; it’s because of God that we are even sharing the money with you.

I sighed. My money had caused a breach in the peace. As I turned a bend, I saw the driver of a bread van making the same mistake I had made. I smiled ruefully. At least he can bail himself even if he didn’t have cash. Just dash them One loaf of bread each.
I had a meeting on the Island, and in my rush to get there, I slipped out of my lane and was nabbed by stern looking mopol guys. ‘Park!’ one of them said, again standing at ease. Instinctively I pressed down my central lock. ‘Wind down’, another said. I did, creating enough space to slip an ATM card through. I say wind down; in fact open your door or I’ll deflate your tyre’. I opened the door and he sat down. ‘Drive!’ He ordered. ‘To...?’ I asked. ‘Just drive’ He said menacingly. I drove. His boss followed in a truck. He told me they were a special unit from the Governor’s office called ‘Zero Tolerance to Traffic Violation’ and that the crime I had committed will set me back by about 35,000 naira. He said we were going to their office on Lagos Island to pay.

I called the friend I was to meet, explained what was happening and told him I’ll be late. After driving for about fifteen minutes, he asked what I was going to do about what he told me and warned that once I got to their office, there was no going back, I would have to produce my tax clearance for two years and bla the bla. I told him I had just 120 naira in my purse (which was true). He laughed and asked me to check again. I did and found 32 dollars, odd change I had decided wasn’t worth converting. He asked how much that was in naira, I pegged the exchange rate at 200naira per dollar, multiplied it and told him. He was too excited by the promise of egunje to notice I had inflated the figure. We parked; he got down, spoke with his boss and came back to the car. 'Bring the money, we’ll take it because you are a woman. We don’t want you to go through all that stress'. Defeated, I gave him the money.

He asked for my number. I asked him what for, he said so he can call me!. ‘Call me, Why?’ I asked, and the idiot winked at me. I blinked like 10 times in half a second. Was this guy hitting on me? I was still blinking furiously as he shut my door, blew me a kiss and walked away.

...and then 4 things occurred to me:
1. There was no task force called Zero Tolerance to Traffic Violation.
2. There was no office.
3. Thinking about it, I hadn't really violated any traffic rule.
4. I had just been conned!
 © Naomi Lucas 


Myne Whitman said...

Welcome to Blogger! The last story had me laughing so much! Look forward to more.

Naomi Lucas said...

Aw, thanks ma'am :)

WWJD said...

Lagos na wa!!!

Anonymous said...

Nigerian police!!!

Anonymous said...

Nigerian police!!!

Anonymous said...

Hahahahahaha. Can't stop laffin @ 'y u yellow for real life pass for d picture? Omg! So funny. U don hear am with these yeye police guys

Naomi Lucas said...

Lol. I hear am true true.