Less than an hour into our adventure in New Zealand, we got pulled over. For speeding. I would like to preface this story by explaining that both KR and I drive in the NY/NJ/East Coast area. We are used to aggressive drivers, and we drive to get places. That being said, KR happened to be the one behind the wheel when we got flagged to the side of the road.
The officer was very polite as he explained that even though we were only going 15 kilometers over the limit (less than 10 miles over), the limit is the limit. There was no talking our way out; KR was getting a ticket. While the cop went back to his car with KR’s information, another car pulled over in front of us. A man in a bright blue soccer jersey, and a woman with a rather harsh Kate-Plus-Eight haircut got out and walked past us to speak to the cop.
We, of course, were thoroughly confused. Did they recognize the cop and stop to say hi? Were they having some kind of car trouble? They seemed to be chatting for a bit behind us, and we wondered if this is how it was in NZ. The whole thing was confusing. But don’t worry! All became clear when the three of them walked together to the passenger side of our car. The cop looked exhausted/exasperated as he asked us if we passed a car and a truck a couple kilometers back.
KR said she did. “Right,” said the cop, “They said you passed them on a blind curve. I’m only going to give you a warning for that, but that’s two infractions and you’ve only just arrived in the country. If the rental car company knew, they’d take your keys.”
It is at this point that this tattletale cannot keep it together and butts in (to a situation that she had already butted into, keep in mind), and adds a whole lot of, “We don’t come to your country and drive like this,” and “We’ve got kids to think about,” and “We were just about to call you in and report you when we saw you’d been pulled over.”
In our defense to the court of public opinion, yes, KR passed this car and a truck. It was on a dashed line and she had clear visibility. She was safely back in the lane well before we were anywhere close to a curve. This woman probably thought it was a blind curve because they were driving up the truck’s butt.
We were pretty steamed about this incident, and wondered if this was an accurate representation of all New Zealanders. If so, man, we were in for a disappointing couple of weeks. But then the next day was Seafest, and we met so many nice people. More than that, the people we told the story to all couldn’t believe what happened. “Don’t you call them, ‘snitches’ in America?” one guy asked. Why yes. Yes, we do. And if you talk to my brother-in-law, he will tell you that Snitches Get Stitches.
One group of guys told us how there’s this big crack down on foreign drivers, because apparently 1 in 10 accidents involves a foreigner. Then he adds, “But I’m saying, what about the other nine REEE-tards?” (his words, verbatim). (Apparently he isn’t up on PC language… or he just doesn’t care. Probably the latter.) This statistic isn’t actually all that surprising, though. I’m pretty sure that 1 in 10 people I saw there were tourists. And even a lot of the residents seemed to be transient. In a country with only 4 million people, I wouldn’t be surprised if at any given time more than 10% of the people in New Zealand were foreign. It feels to me like saying, “The same mix of people that are in New Zealand are getting into accidents in equal proportions.” A worthless statistic, if you ask me.
One group that we shared the story with couldn’t believe it, either. They agreed with my feelings– if it was me, and I saw someone driving stupidly, and then a few minutes later saw them pulled over, I would think to myself, ‘justice!’ (with a fist in the air for good measure) and keep driving. Some felt pretty strongly about the whole situation. “What a ****!” the one said. “YES!” I agreed. “THEY ARE! If I ever see them again, I will tell them so.”
And then, it turns out that I am a hypocrite, because the very next day WE SAW THEM on a hiking trail. They were WEARING THE SAME EXACT CLOTHES. We thought about passing them. But as it turns out, we just let them walk on. Because it was vacation and we didn’t want to ruin our good mood. And because I am apparently all talk.