March 23, 2009

Could Ya Also Spare A Dime For A Bullet, Hermano?

On Thursday evening of last week, a police car pulled into our driveway. This was surprising for a few reasons:

1: We didn't know that the police came anywhere near Berlín,
2: We didn't know why they had come to our house, and
3: We didn't know the police had a car

In any case, they came by to talk about the car. Their police car, that is. One of the officers reached into his pocket and pulled out a snapshot of a police car with a shattered windshield. He started mentioning that their patrol car (a mid-90s Nissan Pathfinder) had "woken up with" a broken window one morning, and since I was a foreigner and all...

Well, I got a bit concerned there, since I was wondering if they were accusing me. But it turns out they were just asking for money. They had already replaced the windshield, since it's a fairly necessary part of one's car. They had tried to go through the rounds with the INS, the state-monopoly bullshit insurance company. They had almost given up on the INS to reimburse them, even though they had an insurance policy. They said the INS was throwing up some bullshit line about not having the car inspected before performing the labor, or something like that.

There are at least 5 things wrong with this picture:
1: The cops drive a shitty old Pathfinder (at least the ones who didn't get the fancy new Chinese police cars, our payoff for dumping diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switching to relations with China... we also got a free, shiny new National Stadium in the works from that deal)
2: The cops left their shitty old Pathfinder unattended long enough to get the windshield broken
3: They had to pay for it with their own money because the insurance company wouldn't reimburse them
4: They had to go door-to-door begging for money, and since they (somehow, since I'd never seen these guys) knew I was a foreigner, they thought I might be able to help, since their own nation's institutions--including the police force, apparently!!--weren't doing shit to help them
5: Let me recap: police officers came to our house asking for money to pay to replace their patrol car's windshield

We gave them 1,000 colones, worth about 2 bucks. Not much, but they were happy and genuinely thanked us. We told them that they should really demand that the INS pay for their windshield, and that they couldn't give up after only a few weeks of dealing with the insurance monopoly; after all, it took us months and months of dealing with those soulless, insurance-mongering bureaucrats before we reached that level of desperation.

So why give them money? To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, I decided long ago that I would do everything I could do to help out a person in need, if that person in need is carrying a gun.
Plus I hate the fucking INS.

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Annie said...

Your life is God's gift to the internet, I think.

Sitzman said...

Hey Annie!
It took me a few moments to figure out that that was a compliment, so thanks!
PS that was a compliment, right?

Annie said...

Yes, it was ... albeit one that probably made more sense in my head than in print. (go figure)