Today, our blog followers are in for a treat, this is Rich and I am writing this chapter. As you know, it has been several weeks since the last posting and we both apologize for that but the reason there has been a delay is twofold. 1) My wife (of whom I am very proud of for writing this blog) has been under the weather having a bout of bronchitis and just not feeling quite up to herself to writing of some of our adventures or misadventures and 2) With all the political stuff going on in the USA, we have been glued to the TV watching the news/elections and no, we are not going to make any political statements, but as appalling as the issues and behavior of all parties it felt like a book we just could not put down.
For this post, I am going to make a different point of view. All too often, we watch the news or read the paper and there is a story about the police, all too often about police corruption or police brutality. It doesn’t matter where you live, but we are all too quick to condemn. Very recently, there have been so many reports of how bad it is in Mexico and travel alerts and restrictions so I decided I would like to look at the other side of the coin. This is strictly an article that is my opinion unlike Karen’s articles where she researches things, I am just voicing an opinion from personal experience.
I am forever impressed with the police presence here in Mexico and Merida is no exception. In Centro, a section like we know from our hometowns as “Downtown” or “Center City”, an area with a heavy concentration of traffic and cars not to mention people crowding the sidewalks and what seems like coming out of the woodwork. What also amazes me are all the bicycles, motorcycles, 3 wheel bikes and 3 wheel cycles used like small pickup trucks, family vehicles, and taxis and of course, buses of all shapes and sizes. With all of that in Centro, many intersections have (besides traffic lights) police directing traffic. The police presence is amazing to me with the patrols.
You say that that is Centro so that is why the Police are so prevalent, well that is not true because the patrols are all over. Living most of my life in Philadelphia (obviously a very large metropolitan city), I am shocked. Knocking on wood (tapping on my head) the crime rate is very low. From what we have read, the police, as well as other professions, are not paid very well (especially from the pay scales I am used to in the States).
So, back to my story which has my personal opinion laced throughout my story, a true story.
Several weeks ago, I opened a checking account here in Mexico, the account also has a debit card with online ability. Of course, I find it very difficult since it is all in Spanish, and we are still learning very slowly! I thought it would be easier since my computer has a Google Translator programmed and it translates to English. Turns out, for security reasons, only the opening welcoming page will translate. So after many hours of playing around with it, I had to go back to the bank for help. After all the computer/bank issues, I went out and my car was dead!!! I was certain that it was the battery, even though I know nothing about cars.
My first inclination was what I would do in the states and that would be to call AAA. Yes, a call to AAA Road Service, put in a report, be promised service within 30 to 45 minutes with the truck showing up 2 hours later — no honestly they were pretty good. Of course, I was standing in the parking lot looking around thinking “great, who can I call for service that will understand me in English? I called Karen who was expecting me to pick her up as we had plans to go somewhere. I figure she would be able to Google who I could call and using the computer to translate while talking to me. While on the phone with her, a few minutes later, I saw a police officer at the other end of the parking lot. So I told her I would call her back since I was going to the officer for a suggestion of who to call for road service. I got to the police who, of course, did not speak English but using Google translator I was able to convey the situation I was in. He asked where my car was and I pointed to it and he said he would be right over and he will meet me there.
He came right over on his motorcycle. Since I did not have jumper cables, he radioed to his dispatch for someone to bring jumper cables and then he told me that he would have cables delivered within 30 minutes. Not bad I thought as the cop got ready, he was taking his motorcycle apart so he could get to his battery terminals. After an hour and a half, he called again and was told again at least 30 minutes. The cop began asking people in the parking lot if they had jumper cables, finally, a guy pulled up in a pickup truck and he had cables. All right!!! The cop took the cables and tried to give me a jump from the motorcycle. Like I said, I know nothing about cars but I thought that there was no way that this would work. Well, just as I thought, it did not work. The cop gave him the cables back and the guy was off to the bank. I hollered to him “Muchas Gracias”. He stopped and turned and was so touched that I was grateful and I let him know.
When the man came out of the bank, he approached the cop and spoke to him. The cop then told me that the guy was going to try giving me a jump with his truck instead of the cop’s motorcycle—– AND SUCCESS!!!!!!!! I went over to the guy and thanked him, shook his hand and gave him a very nice tip. He was so grateful, not so much for the tip but that I truly appreciated how he helped me.
Well, the policeman ended up staying with me and making sure that I was okay. Like I said before, the police are not paid very well and I offered him a tip, which he did not want to take it. I asked him if he was married with kids and he said he was. I told him to take his wife and kids out to dinner and shook his hand (where I had palmed the tip). Of course, I kept thinking that I’ll be arrested for bribing a cop, but he did take it and I was off for another adventure!!
Unlike many of the stories we hear and the reputations of the corruption, that is not always the case.
Thanks to all the State Police, City Police, Tourist Police, and Federales that keep our home of Merida safe and sound.