I have never thought of myself as a person who would pay a bribe to get out of a sticky situation, but today that image I had of myself was shattered. I definitely payed a bribe to get out of trouble this morning. However, I swear I didn’t do it intentionally. This morning, as I was casually making my way across town to visit with my language nurturer, I apparently didn’t stop for a pedestrian in the cross walk. Never mind that NO ONE in this country actually follows any of the traffic laws, I still got pulled over. The police officer asked for my license and told me he would have to take it and I would have to go to some office and pay a fine to get it back tomorrow or I could just pay for the ticket now. I suggested that we just take care of it now because I thought if he took my license that I couldn’t drive that day and I HAD to get across town to meet with my language nurturer. Well, he didn’t tell me what I needed to do to pay immediately, but continued telling me I needed to go to this office and pay. I asked him where the office was and he said he would show me and got in the car. This was the first idiotic mistake. Why in the world did I ever let a man in the car with me? I knew better than that! But I also knew I needed to take care of this issue so I didn’t lose my license and this guy was the one who knew how to make that happen, so I figured I should just do what he said. We start driving down the road and talking and he asks why I don’t know the official langauge and I tell him I am learning another language. At that point, I mentioned that I was on the way to language at the moment and was going to be late. He casually suggested that since I was going to be late, why didn’t I just pay him now and I would be finished with it. No need for me to be late. I was thinking why didn’t we just do this back at the stop before he got in the car with me, since that was what I was trying to do in the first place. He told me where to pull over and told me the cost was 350 of their dollars (about $21 USD). Now, I had seen the ticket charges on a list once before and I distintcly remembered that none of them were over 150 of their dollars, but really who was I to argue with this guy? What do I know? I should just pay what he said it was and be done with it. So, I pulled out 400 of their dollars and asked for change. He gets out of the car without giving me change, told me to drive safely, and walked away. At that point, it dawned on me exactly what had just happened. As it began to sink in exactly what I had just done, I realized what an absolute idiot I had been. He never wrote the first ticket or took a tag number. Home boy pocketed that money and neither me nor the government will ever see it again. I’m sure I had G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E written all over my face. I was talking to someone more knowledgeable later in the day and they told me that he got in the car with me so that I could pay him because they can’t be seen doing it on the street. They also told me that I could still drive with my license taken and that when they take your license, it usually takes all of the next day to get it back. Not going to lie, had I known how much of a pain it was to get your license back, I might have gone ahead and payed the bribe anyway. Seems now I am just a contributor to the corrupted system.
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