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Entered By: Mark
Entry Date: 2010-08-09 17:49:49
Subject: Seat Belt Police

Saturday was David's birthday and also a school day. We made his dinner of choice: breakfast tacos and strawberry shortcake for his dessert. I drove him to school because we had other errands to run. After one particular errand, checking on the washing machine that has been under repair for the last six weeks, we started driving David to school. I watched as David reached back to put his seat belt on but did not notice that he did not finish fastening it UNTIL the "transito" police motioned us off the street. At that point, David quickly reached back and secured his seat belt; by then it was too late. Oh well, it was his birthday, accidents happen so I did my best to conceal my anger throughout the event.

The policeman asked why my friend did not put his seat belt on. I just told him I'm sorry and waited for him to write the ticket. Instead, he called his superior over and the superior started laying into me about David's seat belt. He repeatedly told me that the ticket would be 1000 Lempiras ($52) and that he would have to take my license. I responded several times with a simple "OK". Finally he got down to it and told me he could let me go for 300 Lempiras ($16) if I paid him on the spot. I told him I could not do this because I had to obey the law. At that point, according to David, he started making fun of me and asked someone off the street to translate. I heard the same thing; the policeman would have to write a ticket for 1000L unless I paid 300L. I told him that I have to obey the law because I am a Christian. They could not understand why I was so stupid as to pass up a 300L offer for 1000L as well as time/hassle to pay the ticket.

Often when this is done, the officer just tells you to go away without issuing a ticket because he really just wants cash without any hassle of writing a ticket and returning it to the home station, but not this time. He wrote the ticket, took my license and sent me on my way. I went to the police station a couple hours later to see if my ticket and license were ready yet, but they were closed for the weekend. Today I went to pay the fine and get my license back. Thankfully the fine was 400L ($21) rather than 1000L. After the policeman in charge asked if I wanted to pay him directly (which is also a bribe, illegal), I declined, took the ticket to the bank to pay the fine in the proper, legal place.

I sincerely hope that if the boys learn anything from us, it's that there are absolutes and that we are obligated to obey the law, even when it costs us. I don't think David completely understood why I didn't just pay the bribe, but I hope it left an impression. After it was all said and done, I am hopeful that paying $21 for David's mistake is one birthday gift/lesson he'll never forget; as it could last much longer than anything we bought for him or he bought with the money we gave.

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