Friday, May 1, 2009

Graduated with distinction

Forgot to post the story of my graduation in South Africa. Better late than never:

I have officially acclimatized and done my African graduation! You may also say I’ve been corrupted or come down to the South African level (or up to), or however you may see it. Two years in South Africa has given me the right schooling I believe, and I have done (or committed) my first fully conscious and successful bribe! The politicians here are the best examples. All your friends have exciting stories to tell! It happens on a regular basis but I’ve only been a jealous listener to all the stories up until now. It was only a matter of time…

A family member had a good bribe story from another remote part of Africa. It fascinated me from day one and has stayed with me for a long time. It’s like a true African adventure thing that you have to experience as a proof that you have really had a proper taste of the continent. Very similar to other stupid stuff one may contemplate doing in order to have a proper Africa story to tell your pals back home! “We’ve got a problem, now how can we make this problem go away?” I love that approach! It's true African problem solving, and you haven’t been to Africa without getting yourself out of a shitty situation through a proper bribe!

I’m driving my father in laws car with a trailer hooked up. Down the road, some cops are pulling over vehicles. The most shabby looking cars and taxies are always stopped! Any vehicle with a trailer is also likely to be pulled over. From afar I can see that a police woman jumps out in the middle of the road, pointing at me and the trailer in the back. “F**k, what now?!” To her disappointment the license discs are in order. A foreigner however can be targeted many ways. My driving license that has been more than sufficient in any other police, car and insurance matters is now a BIG PROBLEM! On the 20th time she explains to me her bullshit problem, I’m about to explode. Considering the badge and uniform I go through all the Bruce Banner (Alias HULK) yoga/breathing exercises to not let the monster out! At the same time I’m wondering; “What the hell are you fishing for? ...are you?!” In retrospect I realize I should have picked it up on the 6th or 7th repetition at least. I’m a bit embarrassed about how slow I was, but there is a first time for everything to my defense.
What was that line again? I’m hesitating for a moment before I hear the words come out of my mouth; “How can we make this problem go away?” I burst out laughing as I say it. Maybe I can claim it was a joke now… waiting in anticipation for the lady cop’s next move. It will either be a bribe or a hardcore African prison now I’m sure… The cop smiles and says; “Ok, R100 and we’re quits”. “You’ll have to jail me for bribing too little”; I tell her, “coz I’ve only got R50 in my pockets”. “Ok"; she says and grabs my money. 50 meters further up are two of her colleagues standing. They must know exactly what’s going on. I’m sure they’ve got a little joint bribe pot to add to their salaries. I’m free to go. Very excited now I realize I’ve made my first official bribe, and I even had the guts to haggle with the cop! How much cooler could it get! I would say that a R50 bribe is very cheap, but good for a first timer. With marlin scars and a bribe to brag about, I can safely say that my African journey has been a very successful one. I’ve got stories that will get better by the years and that will keep children and grandchildren glued to my lap!
After sharing my story with people I’ve received more professional bribing advices. You simply plant a small note in the cop’s hands, hiding the real value so that he can’t see it before he is holding it up. When the cop complains about the low amount you threaten to report him! You have bought yourself out of the situation very cheap! This is common for minor traffic offences like drunk driving when you are on a roll.
I also had help to fix a small defect on my car, and to get a roadworthy certificate. During the technical check a new problem was discovered. For all I know it could have been a way to fish for a bribe, but it was in any event a problem that now had to be dealt with. Inspired by my story, my brother in law used the same line; “How can we make this problem go away?” I copied the line myself to be honest, but already people are copying me! How cool isn’t that? In South Africa that qualifies for a MB - Master of Bribery. Its like MBE (Member of the British Empire), a very honorable distinction, but a practical and very useful degree! The problem vanished for only R100, and technically the car does not stick out in the South African car park!


Caroline said...

LOL - I used to play dumb blond in distress. When looking for my driver's license I would 'accidently' turn my purse/bag upside down and let all the money fall out.

I leave the rest to your imagination.

Joanne said...

Believe it or not I have never bribed anybody here, although I once brought out the council to clear the drains since living in Constantia I felt I would get my rates worth. It turned out that the problem was not in 'their' drains but the drain that fell into our responsibility. The guys stood around looking at me for ages and I just didnt 'catch' that they were prepared to fix the drain for a 'payment'. I dismissed them and called plumbers. My DH was seriously pissed off with me as it cost a bomb.

Meghashyam Chirravoori said...

Oh Goodness Gracious. I have been creating a website on South Africa for the past few months and was immersed in its tourist marvels till now. I did not know people took bribes there too like they do in my home country, India.

But I must admit that the way you put it was hilarious. :)