Sunday, February 20, 2011

liberian po po.

On Thursday Seren and I had a little run in with the Liberian police. A few run ins, actually.

Getting pulled over by the police for no apparent reason happens frequently in Liberia. Officers often pull drivers over and ask for money, and because Liberians assume all white people have money coming out their ears, being white means getting pulled over a lot.

On our way to the grocery store, a police officer waved us over to the side of the road. Seren was driving and I was in the passenger seat.

"Hello mah man," Seren says in Liberian English. "What news?" she asks.

After a few friendly words are exchanged, the officer looks at the vehicle's registration and lets us go about our business.

No big, I thought. Getting pulled over is kinda entertaining!


On our way back from the store we are pulled over again by a different officer. This time, however, we don't get off so easy. Because we had just bought a new car, our vehicle didn't have metal plates on it, only temporary paper ones. This is unacceptable to this particular police officer, and apparently a violaiton punishable by seizing the vehicle. The officer instructs us to pull the car around, park it, get out and leave it there.

"But how am I going to walk home with all my groceries?" Seren asks the officer, totally calm and collected.

WHAT?! I am thinking. Who CARES about the groceries?! We are losing our NEW CAR!

The officer and Seren talk for a bit before a few other officers come over and get involved in the conversation. Seren shoots me an annoyed look, as if this whole ordeal was simply inconvenient.

In the mean I am in panic mode in the passenger seat. A million things run through my head: We are losing our car. We'll have to walk home! How far is home? I don't have any water. But I can buy some water! But I spent all my money at the grocery store. WE ARE LOSING OUR CAR!!

Fast forward 15 minutes and the conversation has gone no where. The police still want to take our car and Seren is still complaining about walking home with the groceries.

An officer walks up the the driver's side window. "You whine too much," he says to Seren. "Go ahead and leave."

And just like that, on our way we go.

I let out the breath that I've been holding for the last 15 minutes, thrilled and relieved we didn't just get our new car taken away.

Seren looks excited as well. Probably because she's not carrying home the groceries.

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