HUSTLED by the POLIZEI

Give me your money.

Police officers can be intimidating. Especially when they're pissed at you and they speak a different language. Yes, I know what you're thinking....I tend to attract pissed off people, but this time I was in a BAD SITUATION.

HERE'S THE STORY:

ME: Driving freely into Austria headed for the toll booth. I'm a couple of miles across the border and I have the music blaring, windows down - LIFE IS GOOD. 

POLICE: Sitting along side the autobahn. They flash some sort of lighted paddle sign in my general direction.

ME: Shysa, was that for me? Was I speeding? (staring out the rear view window, turning radio down and rolling up the window)

POLICE: Slowly pulls onto the autobahn and starts following me. Gradually changes lanes and catches up to my car. When they were even with my drivers window, an officer (there are 2 of them) pulledout a HAND HELD PADDLE (it looked like a ping-pong paddle with flashing lights. It reads "HALT").
ME: CONFUSED. Do they want me to HALT so they can get by? Or do they want me to pull over?

POLICE: They speeds past my car and are now driving in front of me.

ME: Awesome, they want someone else

POLICE: Suddenly braking, and now there is a pissed-off hand gesture out the passenger window (obviously aimed at me) to pull off the autobahn and onto a ramp.

ME:  What? What is going on?  Do I get off here? (In America, cops pull up BEHIND you and turn on their lights.) Shysa, what do I do? I make a flash decision to cooperate and  pull off the autobahn into a residential area.

POLICE: Driving erratically in front of me, they finally stop and two officers get out of their car. One looks perplexed and the other looks like he wants to RIP MY HEAD OFF.  (yes, they had their hands on their weapons). They both walk cautiously to my car and flank each side.

ME: OMG, this is like the KGB. I'm going to get abducted and held for ransom. This is it, I should have never wandered into Austria alone. (quietly hyperventilating).

POLICE: "Blah-blah-blah in German" . When they realize I only speak English, they get even more pissed. "Where is your sticker to enter Austria? Why don't you have a sticker? Why didnt' you pull over immediately, we told you to pull over and you ignored us! Didn't you see the sign? Where is your international drivers license?"

ME: "Oh, I'm  sorry - I didn't know". I was looking for the toll booth, I didn't see where I was supposed to buy a sticker. I saw a sign that indicated a toll, but I couldn't read it the sign so I figured it was just up ahead. I really didn't know - I'm so sorry.
 '
POLICE: - INSERT 'MAJOR ASS CHEWING' HERE-......and then one officer says, "You owe 150 euros ($225), and YOU WILL PAY NOW.

ME: OMG, I'm screwed. I'm being HUSTLED and there is nothing I can do about it. They didn't have to charge me, but I was the isolated tourist that didn't know how to read the foreign instructions and was getting hosed.

Being stuck - I politely handed them all of my money to AVOID A BEAT DOWN, and he gave me a 24-hour pass to stay in the country.

I drove away in shock. I was in shock for what had just happened, and two - for what could have happened. Stupid, stupid, stupid.  That will never happen again.


MORAL OF THE STORY:
  • Research the entry fees  or sticker requirement before you drive into a foreign country
  • Always be sure you have an international license (I had mine -thank god, could you imagine how much that would have been? They probably would  have impounded my rental car)
  • Carry plenty of cash
  • If you see the Polizie paddle, pull over immediately to avoid pissing them off. Apparently the task of 'pulling over cars' is not their thing.

9 comments:

Gawgus things... said...

How frightening for you. I got pulled over by the police once in France for speeding and I honestly thought they were trying to rip me off when they said I had to pay the fine there and then. Thank god I had my cheque book as I never carry that much cash. I too thought they were after someone else and merrily carried on! XX

Lindsey said...

ummm I'm scared for you just reading this. WTF ... I'm never going to another country. Hah just kidding, but how scary!!! I see you learned a valuable lesson though and will not be doing that again. Thanks for the tips (if I ever do decide to brave Austria). HALTTT!

Miss K said...

ohmygosh. i would have peed or even crapped my pants!!!

i'm so happy you're ok!

Claudia Moser said...

Well, well, if you would have shared your destination with us I could have told you :) but hey! in the end it all went well!

Green Tea and Cupcakes said...

Oh Honey, how scarey I would have been freaking out.

Megan said...

oh my goodness!!!!!!

i would have been really upset first off. but secondly, who would have just randomly known those kinds of things!? seriously?!?!

ive been hustled driving in mexico alot of times, but near the border towns i kind of expected it. i wouldnt particularly expect it in austria...

Nikki's World said...

You handled yourself very well. I probably would have cried.

Lisa said...

I.would.have.died. No, really. I don't know how you managed to hold it together. I'm glad you're alright and they didn't throw you in the clink, or would that be the gefyngnisse? ;)

Andi said...

It is not uncommon to have to immediately pay a policeman - it is often legit, although sometimes it is not, however, usually they escort to the nearest office where you pay and receive a receipt!