“And can you now pass me your driving license,” added the police officer in the near darkness. This was going from bad to worse; it was only the next step in a list of things that I was missing. To be fair it wasn’t my entire fault, well 90 percent, but that isn’t 100 percent. They say that bad things, and maybe good things, always come in threes. This was definitely the case as my driving experience last week proved.
It wasn’t that late at night, around nine o’clock in the evening, when I was pulled over with a wave of a police sign. I slid down the window and the moment the large policeman asked “license and registration please,” I knew I had a problems. I was one of those standard police checks, the ones they run every now and again to catch unsuspecting drivers without their seatbelts on or blind drunk.
“Ah, I have a slight problem,” I said to the officer. The problem began last week when I took a rent-a-car on Mljet. I had, as if often the case, forgotten to take everything out of the car when I returned it…well I forgot my driving license. “Well my license is on Mljet, well not on Mljet but in another bag, you see I…” I started to explain, realizing that I was probably sounding drunk. “Can I just stop you, do you have your driving license or not,” said the officer. “Well yes and no, yes I have it, meaning it isn’t on Mljet, but no I don’t have it with me,” I was sounding even more drunk. “So the answer to my question is no,” said the officer. “Well yes, the answer is no, although I can go and get it as I only live 200 metres away,” I said.
I wasn’t being dishonest. This police check was set within a stone’s throw of my house. “Did you also know that it is legal requirement to wear your seatbelt,” he started. This was strange I always wear my seatbelt, but then I saw he was directing his question at my mother-in-law in the back seat. “Excuse me Sir!,” came an ear deafening cry from the back seat. The officer made a motion, like he was playing pantomime, to her to do her seatbelt up. “What does he want,” she asked me. I could see that this could take some time. “Is it the law to wear a seat belt in the back seat then,” added my wife. Oh no, this was turning into a full blown debate.
“If it wasn’t the law then why would I mention it,” came the reply. “I knew it was the law in the front but not the back,” argued my wife even more. I just wanted to get away from the situation; we had been waiting for ten minutes now having a discussion with a police officer who was standing almost in the middle of the road. “Is he talking to me,” came the familiar voice from the back seat. She still didn’t have her seat belt on.
And just as the conversation was still unfolding, with the police officer slowly losing patience, my wife arguing why people didn’t have to wear seatbelts on buses and my mother-in-law struggling to find her seat belt, I heard a familiar noise...beep, beep, beep, and one of my headlights stopped working. The third offence, three strikes and you are out.
“Either you will have to drive in the day or you will need to fix that tomorrow,” said the officer, he probably thought he was in the middle of a comedy show. “I will fix the light, find my driving license and promise to tie my mother-in-law to the seat the next time I drive her,” I said hoping he would feel sorry for me and let me go. “I found it!!” exclaimed my mother-in-law from behind me. She had actually only found the belt and not the hole to stick it into. Raised eyebrows from the officer, “you can’t just hang onto it, find where to secure it.” This was going to take a long time, it would have been much quicker if she had just got out of the car and walked home, I thought to myself. Again the officer looked at me, there seemed to be a look of sorrow in his eyes, as if he felt sorry for me. “I have to ask this question, have you been drinking tonight,” he looked at me as if to say I wouldn’t blame you if you had. “No, not tonight but maybe when I get home I will have a couple,” came my answer. And just then the car bounced from left to right...”done it, its in.” Yes she had found the right place to fix the seat belt.
From the three offences I had committed one had been solved. Well one offence, leaving my license on Mljet, the other was not my fault and the last one had happened when I was stopped. All I can say in my defence it that we were lucky to get such an understanding officer, and if he ever reads this I would like to take this opportunity to say sorry for taking up so much of his time.