Pulverised By a Cop
About four weeks ago, on Thursday 2nd, I was driving from the gym at around 7.00am after having a barnstorming session. My head was clear, my body invigorated. I looked forward to having an electrifying day, one that I had mapped out the previous night, hour by hour. But just as I got to the intersection of Muchai Drive and Ngong Road right after Mimosa Court, I had an encounter with a mean-spirited cop that cast a blight on my day.
This is how my morning was supposed to look like.
7.20am: Get to the office, grab a Long Black from Connect Coffee downstairs. Black, no sugar. Spend 7 minutes going through headlines on Business Daily and Financial Times.
7.30am-8.30am: Wind up on the last chapter of Corporate Finance including the assessment questions.
8.35am- 12.00pm- Review Vodacom Tanzania’s Information Memorandum to decide whether this new kid on the (listing) block is worth buying into.
12.00pm-1.00pm- Finally start reading the next unit (Financial Reporting). I had taken too long on the previous one, had about five more to go and I could smell the exams around the corner. Vicious and unforgiving, like a scorned lover.
You get the drift. The intention was to make the most of my time, but most importantly make time in between work to read for my exams.
Unbeknownst to me, that cop had other plans for me. I think traffic cops thrive on belittling people. Especially women who seem to have the slightest aura of power hanging around them like a piquant scent. They flourish by rendering them helpless. I suspect that at the end of the day, there’s a smoky nyama choma joint that hosts these dastardly cops. I imagine them sitting around a pot, sucking some frothy drink with long straws and chewing gristly pieces of meat. Amidst shrieks of fiendish laughter, they recount how exhilarating it was to reduce grown up women to tears.
Anyway, so this was my encounter with the malevolent cop.
I get off Muchai Drive and turn right to join Ngong Road. Immediately, I see him standing in the middle of the road and flagging me down. Average height, maybe 5” 7, dark and with a face so stern you would need immense fortitude to look him in the eye. Imperturbably, I oblige, imagining that he is conducting a random inspection as I am confident of my driving skills. I pack my car in the middle of the road on this barricaded section.
“Madam, why would you so carelessly break traffic rules? Hand over your driving license.”
Confused, I reach out for my DL in my purse on the passenger seat and hand it over.
“Sir, what traffic rule might I have unknowingly broken?”
“Step out of your car!”
“I am sorry, sir. But I don’t understand what I could possibly have done wrong”
“You ignored the two signs, one of them right in the middle of the road, and made an illegal turn”
I am convinced that this is a bluff, and for a split-second I imagine a bunch of people, perhaps Ashton Kutcher and his team will suddenly appear and inform me that I have been punk’d! The cop, in his demanding voice, rattles me back into reality.
“You need to come with me to the cop station. I was here at 5.30am to control traffic because of people like you who can’t allow traffic to flow seamlessly.”
I am tempted to inform him that I was there at precisely 5.30am heading to the gym and he wasn’t there. He’s a liar, this cop. He has probably lied about my offense too. So, I get off the car and ask him to show me the signs that have marked that intersection as a “no right turn” spot. He points at them, two clear signs that even a blind person would sense their presence.
In my defense, the signs could have been placed the previous day as I have always turned right at least three times a week when heading to the office from the gym. I tell the cop that much and apologize profusely but he gives me a cold shoulder and moves on to arrest some guy in a white pick-up.
The pick-up guy packs next to my car. I walk over towards the cop to give this pleading thing that I clearly suck at one last shot. I overhear the guy saying that he is running late for a meeting and the cop informs him that he should have woken up early, adding that he was on the road at 5.30am controlling traffic. Waking up in the wee hours seems to be his biggest achievement!
I ask the cop to let me go and he says the only place I will be going to is the police station. Defeated, I chuck it in and get into my car. I call a friend and as I explain my situation, I burst into tears. Gallons of tears flowing fervently, like an inexorable volcano. The cop comes to my window. I roll it down. My friend is still on the line.
“Sasa madam umeamua kulia?” loosely translated as “So now you have resorted to crying?”
My friend asks me to hand over the phone to him. He takes my phone and walks away, then comes back after about two minutes. He hands it back to me and for the first time, he looks remorseful, even ashamed of his actions. He apologizes and tells me that I should have told him of my situation from the get go.
Situation? What situation? I also don’t know my situation but I am glad there’s a situation that has softened his cold heart and I am now off the hook.
As I drive off, I look at the time on the dashboard and its 9.00am. That cop wasted 2 hours of my time, time that I had painstakingly planned and now I was totally falling behind my schedule. The sheer realization of the fact that I would not meet my target and possibly never manage to exhaustively cover all the units before the exams sends me into panic mode. I turn on the waterworks yet again and cry all the way to office.
By the time I get there, my head is so heavy my neck almost can’t support it. I am also having a massive migraine. I go through my emails, participate in a conference call at 11.00am and call it a day. I spend the rest of the day in bed, with pocorn, watching Black Mirror.
I am yet to bump into this cop again. Maybe he also had a nasty experience at work, and now, for the life of him, he can’t wake up at 5.00am to control traffic. He tosses and turns in bed, feeling sorry for himself. Karma must surely be at work.
If I ever meet this cop again, I will buy him a hardcover copy of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F***”