There is a story that goes way back where the comment, “What seems to be the problem officer?” was used when I (John) was pulled over. If you don’t know this story I will have to tell it another day. Of course, I learned my lesson when I spoke those words in college, and did not utter them this day. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to help the situation.
Sometimes things that seem to be just fine in the States don’t work so well in New Zealand. First, going 7 miles over the speed limit doesn’t seem to be ok here in NZ (if you haven’t heard of it in the States, I have always generally understood that 55 doesn’t really mean 55. It could be partly because 15 kilometers sounds worse than 8 or 9 miles an hour over the limit.) So, when the police officer pulled us over I didn’t have to ask, he just said here is your “insta-ticket” (what they give to foreigners) for $80 NZD. And off we went at a slower pace, keeping right to the 100 km speed limit–safety first.
As we went along I was thinking about how this had been my first ticket in 10 years (luckily it doesn’t go on my record back home), but I was not upset seeing as I was for sure speeding. Just about the time I was starting to let go of the money we had lost to the NZ police force, what did I see but another police car. This one was oddly placed up in the curvey moutain roads and actually threw me off, but I thought to myself, “No worries, I am definitley not speeding.” As I came around the next corner I noticed three more police cars and a police officer waving me over and yes I was dying to ask, “What seems to be the problem officer,” but before I could he told me. I guess in New Zealand you aren’t able to “trim the fat” or go over the dotted white line even when there are clearly no cars coming for quite a distance. I find this a nice way to shorten a drive (the shortest distance between two points is a straight line–I learned that from Dukes of Hazard) So to cut down the fours deaths per year from head on collisions they have on the South Island they have gone on a mission to stop this horrible offense. To make a long story short, they gave me another $150 NZD “insta-ticket” and sent me on my way. After this ticket I was starting to understand why the entire police force had such shiny new cars. I believe I had fallen victim to a police force fundraising event. This was confirmed when I got to our campsite and I heard of two other people who had gotten the same ticket on the same corner. After working out my frustration and getting an apology from one of the local kiwis for this scam, I came to terms with it and let it go after writing this blog. Luckily for me the US dollar is doing prettty well against the kiwi dollar and they will be taking a little less money out of our pockets. Also, Erin might drive more often which should help as well.