HUMOR IN UNIFORM
Since we are a ‘Nation of Immigrants’ (hopefully legal), it is not rare that many of us are bi or even tri-lingual. Growing up in an Italian household, I heard Italian and the Sicilian dialect spoken constantly.
Even though both my parents were born here in the United States, they were fluent in Italian and also the Sicilian dialect. My father, a pharmacist, spoke not only Italian, but German and French. Foreign languages were not ‘foreign’ in my home growing up.
Later on, I attended summer school every summer as an undergraduate. Rather than graduate early, I was accepted into an exchange program at the University of Pisa in Italy.
THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A GOOD SURPRISE
As a police officer today, speaking Spanish, is almost a requirement. While not completely fluent, I can make my intentions known concerning directions, interrogation and comprehension. I stopped a pick-up truck that was hauling hay for one of the estates. There were six people in the cab, which is a strict violation.
I asked of them all to exit. While complying with my request, they had some not-very-nice comments to make about my mother, my family and my department. I said nothing.
I have written appearance tickets for this kind of infraction in the past. The problem with this group is that the undocumented immigrants keep changing their names. They would incorporate their mother’s maiden name, then their grandmother’s name, with the result being nothing like what was on their state issued ID.
My chief directed me to take them all to headquarters and we’d figure it all out there. As these undocumented workers were being seated in our police vehicles, the invectives again poured out of them. Their ugly statements were against me, my mother, and cursing my family all the way back to the member who was a Pope.
I showed no reaction.
When we arrived at headquarters, the doors were opened and they filed out and into our holding area for processing. I turned to them, pointed to the bench and said, “Sientase aqui” (sit here).
I wish I had an 8×10 glossy of the look of fear and regret on their faces as if to say “Oh no! He understands what we were saying! God help us now!”
They were all released, except for the driver – he was brought before a judge. The rest were all very mindful and apologized to me. Then, they thanked me profusely for the courteous treatment I gave them.
THE WEDDING LESSON
Another time, I stopped a car going a little too fast on the major public highway through town. The car was full of people on their way to a wedding reception at a very exclusive restaurant up the road.
I stopped the car, approached it and asked the driver, “Do you know why I stopped you?” He said (with a thick Italian accent), “I’m ma sorry, Officer. Was I go ina too fast?” I agreed and asked to see his driver’s license and car’s registration.
The driver agreed to find it. While he was looking, I could hear him say under his breath, “Questo strunze, porca misaria, filgio di butane, questo bastardo.”
Basically, he was calling me a piece of excrement, suggesting that I should suffer miserably and that my parents were not married to each other when I was born. Not wanting to spoil the festive mood of the upcoming reception, I returned to his car with his information and no traffic ticket for the speed.
He was relieved. Then he said, “Oh thanka you, officer. Thanka you very mucha.”
I looked at him and replied, “Ora adesso, non sono una filgio di butane?” (So now I’m not a son of a bitch?” He turned beet-red, apologized approximately eight times and shook my hand with BOTH OF HIS HANDS.
The lesson is that you never know who understands what you are saying.
DON’T ASSUME THAT HE’S A DUMB COP
I recall another circumstance when I had fun with a different driver who was going to that same French restaurant. It happened when their vehicle, full of wedding guests, was traveling much too fast (66 in a 45).
As I approached the car, their first words were, “Where is that fancy French restaurant around here?” (It has always amazed me that if you are lost, driving faster will not make you LESS LOST.)
So, I answered in French: “Oui, c’est pres d’ici. Vous devez d’alle deue kilometre dans cette rue e le restaurante que vous voudrais de trouver e sulle gauche. ” (Translated: Yes, it’s near here. You must go two kilometers on this road and the restaurant you are looking for is on the left.).
They were SHOCKED. I never saw six people all with their mouths open all at the same time!
Let them all think of these incidents when someone says that ‘all cops are dumb.’
At the bottom line, it all comes down to saving just ONE life.
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