This blog is the second installation of ‘How Samara Lost Her Cool’. I hope you laugh and cry and laugh again.
It is a universally known fact that the police in Thailand are corrupt. The Thais know it, the expats know it, the police know it. There is no escaping this truth.
One of the most outward expressions of said corruption is the ‘traffic stops’ that liter the city when the government is short on cash. Out of seemingly nowhere, these traffic stops will pop up in various, tourist-heavy locations. The police manning these stops target westerners, Chinese and Burmese–checking for proper helmet usage, appropriate driver’s licensing and updated motorbike registration.
These stops become a part of life in Thailand. I have been pulled over countless times (as non-helmet wearing Thais zoom by), my only infraction being that I am a foreigner. Usually I don’t have a problem. I’m an avid helmet wearer, I keep my registration up-to-date and I am the proud owner of a THAI driver’s license. Because of this, when (not if) I get pulled over, regardless of how much of an injustice I believe the scenario to be, I pull out my documents and am on my way in a matter of a few minutes.
The day of our story, I had just left from a not-so-favorable doctor appointment. I was driving to CMU, processing the health information, when I came upon a traffic stop (on the highway nonetheless). I was not in the mood for this, but such is life, so I pulled over as directed and keeping my earbuds blaring, I handed over my driver’s license.
Now this happens All. The. Time. and is really not that big of a deal, but this day…thiiissss day, I noticed it was taking a bit longer than usual for my license to be returned. Looking up at the officer for the first time, I realize that he had been talking to me, but due to Regina Spektor singing about lost wallets, I hadn’t noticed.
Whelp, it turns out my motorbike registration expired two days prior. (shit.) While I knew the time to renew was approaching, I had completely blanked on the date and hadn’t realized that my sticker was expired. Now typically there is a grace period for this kind of thing (at least there is in my head,) so I started entreating the officer for grace.
But, the fact that the curly-headed foreigner could speak Thai was just too astonishing for the officer, so instead of letting me go, he called over a second officer.
This didn’t look promising.
The second officer started serenading me with a series of very condescending, very childish Thai questions to test my ‘skills’ while the first officer held my license in his hands smiling on.
Well, as this series of blogs is called “How Samara Lost Her Cool,” one can only imagine that I do not sweetly answer the second officers’ questions like I (maybe) should have. No. I did not. Instead, I very clearly -in Thai- told the second officer “ห้ามคุยกับฉัน” (don’t talk to me!”) and demanded that the first officer write me my ticket and give me back my license so that I could be on my way.
Well that was just too freaking cute! The upstanding police officers just could not handle it and continued repeating “ห้ามคุยกับฉัน” “ห้ามคุยกับฉัน’ (“don’t talk to me” “don’t talk to me”) back and forth to each other.
I was shaking with pent up anger.
In the end, I found out that in Thailand, when you get a ticket, the police officers keep your license until you pay off your ticket. So, despite my demands my license was not returned, my ticket, however, was issued.
Myself fuming and the officers laughing uncontrollably, I finally drove off shouting “ฉันรักเมืองไทย” (“I LOVE THAILAND!”) as my tires squealed. This only made them laugh harder.
I got about 50 meters before I found myself crying so uncontrollably I was now in danger of getting yet another ticket for endangering myself and other drivers on the road, so I pulled over and cried on the side of the highway.
This was not a ‘pretty cry’ by any means. Oh no. I had snot running out of my nose, down my face without anything to wipe it off and my mascara was decidedly not waterproof, so it was running down my eyes in the blur and black mess, intermingling with the snot. I was a literal hot mess.
Thirty minutes passed and the tears kept coming. At this point I started to feel a little ridiculous and was actually laughing at myself while I was crying. The tears, however, would not stop, so I did the only logical thing I could think of and started taking selfies. This needed to be documented.
^^ this is for your benefit.
So I just sat there crying and laughing at myself as I waited the storm of my tears out.
And you know what, I did eventually pull myself together and go to work. I was fine. I paid my $7 fine, renewed my registration and got my license back.
This was all just one big episode of Samara losing her cool.