Thursday, January 22, 2015

An encounter

My first interesting experience in US happened after about a fortnight of landing in this country. Interesting, it may be termed at hindsight, but at that time, it was kind of harrowing and nightmarish.

I along with my friend, who was on the driving seat, were in the University area during daytime. He, has been driving in US for last few months, but inadvertently failed to stop the vehicle at a stop sign. And just in a flash of seconds, a police car appeared behind us, as if it was there just waiting for us to violate the traffic rules. A horn from the police vehicle made my friend slow down the car, so as to wait the police car to cross us. He was perhaps secretly hoping  that either the transgression of the rules might not have been noticed or the horn was for someone else. A second shrill horn made him turn the car towards right and stop. We waited for few minutes, which seemed eternity,  in our car for any action, but nothing happened. The police car had also stopped behind us, but the officers did not chose to come out.

As per practice in India, where law enforcing officers are rule in themselves, and may not like to trouble themselves by moving out of their vehicle for such a small misdemeanor, we thought it better to come out of our car to plead with them to excuse us for our wrongdoing. Both of us, simultaneously came out of the car, and suddenly the officer was out shouting, pointing towards us and directing us to go inside the car, sit there with out hands in front. Not understanding the reason, but having no choice either we complied with his orders.

Thereafter, one officer approached us with look of suspicion and scorn, sought the driving license. My friend handed over his International Diving Permit issued in India, which was kind of a booklet, printed in various languages, authorizing to drive in US. Meanwhile, another officer appeared on the scene, who seemed to be more sympathetic, understanding and willing to listen. We explained him about being government officers, international students at SU, new to this country and also admitted the mistake.

Despite the understanding tone, subsequent light banter and  helpful attitude, the officers went by the book and handed over two tickets, one for not stopping at stop sign and another for driving without license and a date at DA office. We were explained that the ticket regarding driving without license can be argued at DA office as he could not make head and tail of International Driving Permit. The officers also guided us about location of DA office, other procedures and reasons why they behaved so as well as protocol in US in such matters.

My friend would be poorer by handful of dollars, but still it was a learning experience for us. Though we were on the wrong side of the law, but still were impressed with the professional attitude of the police officers.


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