Negotiating the fine

22 05 2012

“You stopped but were over the line” the traffic policeman said having pulled me over.

“What line?”, I retorted knowing full well where the line was. “If there is a line it is very badly marked” which was also true.

“Get out of the car and we will walk back and I will show you” he answered.

“I don’t walk” I said, holding up my walking stick. “But if you get in we can drive back and have a look”.

He pondered this new approach for a moment and then saw the biltong on the seat of the Landcruiser. “Ah, I am going to enjoy some chimkuyu” he commented using the Shona word for the biltong. Biltong for those who don’t live in southern Africa is a spicy dried meat cut into sticks. Gary’s son Stuart had given me some that they’d cured from a wildebees that he’d shot the previous week in the Humani Ranch area of the Save Conservancy in the Save Valley of Zimbabwe. From the policeman’s comments I now knew that the whole “fine” was open to negotiation.

“Have you got change for my $50?” he asked holding up the note. Now I knew I could likely get away with the not stopping behind the white line at the stop street on The Chase and College Road. I scratched through my stash of small notes and found the requisite amount.

“You’d better count it” I said handing it over and taking the proffered $50 note. He counted it slowly and getting to the end said “How much do you want to pay for the fine?”.

“Nothing” I replied. “Your line is very badly marked”. The line marking probably wouldn’t have stood up in court but we both knew that neither of us wanted to take it that far.

“How about some chimkuyu?” he hinted.

I reached over to the bag and extracted the smallest stick I could find.

“But there are three of us” he said, trying another angle.

“Well, cut it up then” I said as he surreptitiously pocketed it. Then he waved me on.