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Author Topic: March 11th, 2009: "Moving Violation"  (Read 3251 times)
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« on: March 11, 2009, 10:51:45 AM »

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This is another story that was inspired by actual events. Back in 1990 after the Gulf War was "officially" over I got left behind by my unit. Apparently the Department of Agriculture is pretty anal about vehicles and equipment returning to the U.S. from foreign countries. Each of our armored personnel carriers had to pass a ridiculously rigorous inspection for cleanliness before the DoA would allow us to load it on the Merchant Marine ships for the return trip home.

Since our equipment had to be cleaned, someone had to stay behind to clean it. Everyone else got to go home. Our company First Sergeant passed down an order than only single men with no family around Fort Benning were to be left behind. There had been break ins in the barracks where the single people lived and there had been break ins and accidents at the motor pool where our vehicles were stored (thank you very much lame ass Georgia National Guardsman). The married folks had families taking care of their stuff. Their lives were in order, they simply had to resume living them.

So I volunteered to stay behind and then I vehemently opposed the order. In fact, the First Sergeant had been wrong to do what he did. We were all soldiers and no one should have been singled out for extended duty, married or not. He conceded the point and offered that I could file a complaint should I desire to once I returned to Fort Benning. Then I was dressed down by my Lieutenant (truly the worst officer I had ever known). I could see I wasn't going to get anywhere and my only option was to file charges against my First Sergeant. A man I respected and liked quite a bit despite disagreeing with him.

So I let the matter drop.

While I was doing this extended duty with the steam cleaners and the scrubbing, I did have occasion for a couple days off here and there to explore Saudi Arabia. Frankly there wasn't much to explore. I spent a great deal of time trying to find something, anything that was produced or was indicative of the region. They had this huge mall with dozens of stores and thousands of items for sale and the closest I could come was a clear, sealed mini barrel of oil. The oil was from Saudi oil fields. It was packaged in Taiwan.

I was actually pretty surprised to discover that they make nothing, they import everything and when the oil runs out... and it will happen one day... they will be well and truly screwed.

So I was leaving the mall and I grabbed a taxi to take me back to the base. At the same moment, a soldier I didn't know did the same thing. We heard each other but since we didn't know each other neither of us offered to share the ride. Plus the two cabbies were obviously trying to rush the matter since two fares are better than one.

I don't know many Turkish people and I don't know many cabbies but I have lived most of my life very close to New York City and I've driven in cabs many times. No cab ride I had taken before or since has equaled the terror I felt on that ride. The guys in my unit came up with a theory that nine months in an armored personnel carrier that could only hit 32 miles an hour if it was going down hill and had a good wind behind it left us oversensitive to speed.

All I know is that those sons of bitches were racing and with the exception of the goat everything that happened in this comic happened to me. Yes, he ran a cop off the road and got away with it. Beware Turkish cab drivers my friends. Beware.

On a side note, when I got home I discovered everything I owned had been stolen while I was in Iraq except my clothes (lost a computer, CD's, stereo, TV/VCR combo, some jewelry and my remote control car collection and all the accessories that went with it). Also my car that I owned literally one week before getting shipped out to the war got all smacked up in the motor pool and needed body work and a complete paint job. So I was really glad I got to spend three extra weeks in Saudi Arabia steam cleaning engine blocks. Thanks Top. Sure am glad you got that bronze star and promotion to Sergeant Major once we got back.

How appropriate it is that today's comic is about reckless driving and here I got my first moving violation in about a decade. Here in San Felipe they have some of the nicest police trucks I've ever seen. The stop signs on the other hand could seriously use a coat of paint. There are tons of stop signs here in San Felipe and the cops like to hang out near the dark and particularly faded ones to give out tickets. They got me tonight. I didn't see it until I was already driving past it and he lit me up before I even cleared the intersection.

Now you think that a smart person might feel a bit of fear getting pulled over by police who don't speak your language in a foreign country. I was just pissed. Royally, royally pissed. I felt like I was getting scammed and I also felt like the cop knew it.

So here in San Felipe there is no waiting for ticket payment. They make you follow them to the police station where they write out your ticket and then lead you to the cashier window to make payment. I was furious the whole time I was there and as I'm about a foot taller than the largest cop here I think they knew it, not that they cared.

The last time I got a ticket for running a red light was a really long time ago but I remember it cost me about sixty bucks. I figured that was what I was in for and I was bracing myself for the bill, getting angrier by the minute when the cop who couldn't speak English slips a piece of paper in front of me that said 137 on it.

I thought to myself "$137 dollars... that's completely outrageous." I was about to argue when he said "cente y trecente siete pesos."

I said "Pesos?"

He said "Si."

Guys, the ticket for running a stop sign was like, nine bucks. I completely deflated. It was all I could do not to start giggling right there in the police station. If they had posted a sign outside that said "Tour the San Felipe Police Station and meet some of our officers $9" I can honestly say I would have bought a ticket. I have two degrees in law enforcement. I'm always curious about that kind of stuff. I would totally tour the police station for nine bucks. And I got to.

See you back here one Friday. Have a great humpday.
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