..but the Polish cops really are out to get me!
This week I have been stopped three times by the law – and twice within ten minutes! Are we living in a police state?
On my way home from work, near the junction of Pulawska and Odynsa, I regularly see a man, about fifty years old and looking a little grizzled, riding his bicycle, one hand on the handle bars and the other holding on to a cigarette.
He wobbles along the pavement, puffing away and making comments about life, love and Hegelian philosophy to passers by and the flower lady on the corner.
He’s amazing. But I wonder how many laws, by-laws he’s breaking? Certainly, looking grizzled in public is one. But there must be something in the statute books against bike smoking? And if there isn’t then I am sure Brussels can knock one up for us.
Cops though don’t seem to think he’s worth bothering about.
So why do they keep on harassing me?
I was a bit late to meet with a friend who had to do a ‘bar review’ for a magazine. I was to help him with the ‘review’.
I know, tough work but somebody (me, me!) has got to do it. And yes, working conditions are tough and we are going to form a new branch of the Solidarity trade union – Bar Review Chapter - to fight for pay and conditions.
Anyway, I’m standing at the traffic crossing and the little red man has just lit up (no, not a cigarette) and I’m hesitating whether to walk out in front of the tram - hoping it won’t start moving and turn me into spaghetti bolognaise – or wait for the little green man to wink into life.
As I dithered, an old man of about 70 years old hobbled off the pavement and started making his way across the tram rail. Then, to my right, a girl of about 11 calmly walked to the other side. Not wanting to be left behind by the aged and prepubescent children I walked across the tram rail, then the road and over to the other side of Plac Bankowy.
Just then I heard the dreaded “Prosze, Pana!(Excuse me, sir)
It was the cops. I was going to be harassed for jaywalking.
If it’s true that you know when you are getting old when the cops start looking young, then I must be nearing my old age pension. The cop who was now asking for my ID (which, of course, I didn’t have) looked the spitting image of a foetus.
I tried to explain to him that ‘there is no such anti-jaywalking law in the UK, so I just can’t get used to being controlled as to how I cross the street.' And anyway, I was only doing what that ‘old geezer over there was doing’, pointing at the 70 year old, thereby shamelessly trying to distract the officer from my case by stitching up the old and infirm.
He seemed genuinely fascinated that there is no jaywalk laws in Britain, and, I think, in genuine gratitude for providing him with such a tasty bit of traffic trivia, let me go.
Twelve hours later and I am in the park with the dog, 8.30 a.m. and I have a hangover of existential proportions from the bar ‘review’ of the night before. The dog, Chagall, is, as usual, frolicking in the snow and doggy muck, and barking at men on their own (he doesn't seem to mind them in twos) wearing dark clothes - he’s much more particular about who he harasses than the cops are.
Just then, from behind a tree, emerges a traffic cop. “Prosze Pana!” Oh, God, here we go again.
This cop is so young he appears to be a contemporary of an embryo.
“Why is the dog not on a leash and why is he not wearing a muzzle?”
I try to explain to him that ‘we don’t have such laws in the UK and I just can’t get used to … ‘
Meanwhile the dog is barking playfully at the policeman, who, to him, is just another man on his own wearing dark clothes.
Apparently, I could be fined 200 zloty ($70) for the heinous crime of letting my dog off his leash to do what comes natural.
After taking my details – mothers name, fathers name, place of birth, place of birth of mother - the cop let me and the dog go, probably fascinated by the fact that we don’t have dog discrimination laws in the UK.
But we were not free for long. Ten minutes later – ten minutes! – two more cops emerged from behind a tree.
They told me to put the dog on the leash. The only problem was, Chagall does not like going back on the leash once he’s let off it, and would not come anywhere near me or the two men in dark clothes.
So for five minutes, watched closely by the cops – these were older, cynical, more senior officers of about 15 years old - I pursued the dog around the park trying to get hold of him. Dog thought this was a great laugh and let me get close, closer and then dart away again barking his head off.
It must have looked like the end bit of Benny Hill with the bald man in the park(though me and the dog have much more hair).
The cops eventually got bored of this, took my name and left.
In the space of 12 hours my name, address, place of birth, father’s and mother’s name, had gone into three different little black books.
I’m a marked man. Maybe I should write to Human Rights Watch, or Kofi Anan. Anyone got his address?
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Posted by beatroot at 3/01/2006