In God’s Way – the sequel
One week after our traffic accident on November 7, we were summoned to the police station to close the case involving one big orange truck without brakes and Eric’s unfortunate Twister. Immediately after the accident, the truck owner’s father called upon Eric at his home and pleaded with him to settle out of court. The truck was not properly registered and the un-licensed driver was not supposed to have been operating it.
Eric spent a week and considerable cash getting the back end of his taxi restored. The trucking company had reimbursed Eric for the repairs. All that remained was for the three of us to seal the case shut with statements that we had no further claims against the trucking company.
So Eric fetched us in his newly rehabilitated car, wearing a bright orange shirt and drove us back to the central police station. We got out and made our way back past the truck still sitting in their lot, God’s Way emblazoned across the windshield. We waived our way past a beggar and various vendors and walked past a group of people watching someone clip someone else’s toenails in the shade of a barrack-like building. Soon we were again in the same room as last week, the one with the TV, being ushered into a small office at the far end of the room. Bob took a seat at a table and I settled next to Eric on a plush orange couch.
An older man sat behind a desk in a starched blue uniform with epaulets. A younger officer with an ample torso came and stood in the doorway. Introductions were evidently unnecessary. Following my promise to remain silent, I listened as the uniformed men took turns explaining what they wanted us to do. My eyes wandered to a one hundred pound sack of My Deer Thai Jasmine Rice resting against the wall behind Officer Epaulet’s chair.
It became clear that they were asking us to get back into the car and drive to another location to obtain a typed statement. Bob balked. This was already taking enough of our time and energy on a hot, busy Friday. “I’ll be happy to write something right here and sign whatever I need to.” he offered.
Officer Round Belly began telling Bob he was a stranger and that he didn’t understand. Eric and I shifted uneasily. We are both aware that Bob’s disdain for uniformed authority dates back to a fateful day in 1976 when a cop pushed Bob against a stone step, cracking his right knee cap in half. Bob spent the next couple of months in plaster from ankle to groin, incubating a keen dislike for the police.
“I may be a stranger but I’m still a human being.” Bob asserted and the cops had no choice but to agree. ” You don’t know what I know or don’t know. You don’t know anything about me. I might be a lawyer!” I stared at the floor and waited. Bob was doing a masterful job as promised, of playing the part of a busy man without much patience for bureaucracy.
At the mention of lawyers, the two men began back-peddling. I wondered if they were thinking about how shoddily they had handled the situation a week ago. Officer Round Belly apologized, making Bob smile.
“Show me what you want.” Bob said and Officer Round Belly fetched a stack of dockets, pulled out a folder and opened it. Bob read a typewritten statement which said, in effect, that the incident had never happened. “No, we’re not going to sign something that says this never happened.” he affirmed, folding his hands in his lap and setting his jaw.
“Why can’t I write something out and sign it?” Bob asked. “No,” they answered, “It needs to be typed.” Unable to help myself, I blurted out, “What, you don’t have a typewriter here?” “Please, it’ll only take a few minutes,” Officer Epaulet said. Finally, Bob stood up and said, “Okay, we’ll go get what you want.”
Off we went to the curbside office of the “Commissioner for Oath.” Two old men sat at wooden tables with ancient manual typewriters in front of them, sheaves of carbon paper fluttering slightly in the wake of a steady stream of traffic. We joined the short queue under the ample shade of umbrellas and sat down in a couple of plastic chairs. When it was our turn, Eric acted as intermediary explaining our quest to the older of the two gentlemen. We watched as they took turns trying to rip a page from the Commissioner’s notebook and then Eric brought us a blank piece of paper to write a statement on.
Bob wrote out something like this: I and my wife are fine and we are satisfied that this case has been resolved to our satisfaction. Eric took it over and brought it back. It needs to be from one of you only. Bob crossed out and changed a couple of words and sent it back. “Aren’t they going to ask for our ID?” I asked. “Heck, I could sign my letter as Michelle Obama!” As soon as I said this I realized I’d left my wallet home and began hoping no one would ask for my identification.
“Withdrawal of Case” letters were produced after a few minutes of typing and a little bit of dabbing with yellow colored white out. As you can see, they did not match what Bob wrote.
We noticed that the Commissioner had given us two different addresses but at this point we didn’t care. Back to the office we went and succeeded in closing the case!