Riding home from our radio show. Karo had just subbed for Kate, having as well thought up the brilliant ‘outer space’ theme which inspired this little ääh? and also managed to postpone the telling of this tale until now.
After the broadcast, friend and programme director Séamus asked if we’d like to check out this new place he had heard about called “Panke”. A friend of his had a studio there, I believe. At any rate, it’s the same place where we – Olivia and Nexus and I – played last night to some success. Classic courtyard ateliers. Just beautiful. Typical Berlin “use it ’til we don’t need you anymore now that you’ve established its worth” kind of real estate.
The three of us, Séamus, Karolidas, and I, sought out this little gem, they ordered their drinks but, I, not being the drinking type just smoked some of Karo’s weed, which he was all too willing to share (of course, right?)
So we were riding home together, you would say, since we both had to ride for some time in the same general direction. Chatting happy-go-lucky, stoned, Karo asked if I would mind if we stopped for a moment, as the bike-lock he had wrapped around his waist (as was the style at the time) was digging into his side (fashion can be so cruel!). The manner of his asking is of particular interest to me, because I found it cute and odd that he would’ve so politely explained himself in this way, one. And two, that he would be explaining it again, in that same reasoning manner, in just a few moments.
We stopped. He stowed it. We chatted. Happy-go-lucky, stoned. We might have even laughed at our musing occurrences. But, Lo!, dear reader of my diary, even in the middle of this great fun & fury, we couldn’t help but notice the motorized police vehicle sniffing our assholes after getting a gander of our smiling halves as they slowed past heading the other way. My thought: I only have a rear light, Karo has none. I don’t wanna get fined. Let’s wait a moment.
They drive on.
We’ve hardly achieved momentum when they creep up beside us, having pulled a U-turn, and ask us to halt. Literally: “Halten Sie, bitte an.” To appreciate the full-German, imagine it pronounced like the name ‘Hal’ drawn out just long enough and then with a ‘tn’ to finish the word before ‘Zee bitta ahn.’
Don’t get me wrong. They were being perfectly polite. Per Procedure. By the Book. But there is a pattern here and it is my function at this moment to present it to you, dear reader, in as specific detail as possible without boring you first.
“Procedure” equals “Just polite enough” while “demonstrating clearly every authority that you can’t do shit about if you know what’s good for you” in the process. Some say this is justifiable. I say it is the justifiable justifying their justice.
There were two of them: The older, I’ve-seen-it-all-already, just gimme-a-friggin’ break guy; and his partner, the rarin’-to-go, by-the-book while justifying her existence as a pain-in-the-ass from, where else but, the working class. That’s the part that hurts the most: The class. We’re us ferchrissakes!
She starts right in with the justification: “Es wird Autos in Berlin abgefackelt, vielleicht haben Sie etwas davon mitbekommen? Vielleicht haben Sie etwas in der Zeitung geleeeesen?” Those extra ee’s represent just a bit more than a hint of sarcasm.
Previous quote per my English translation: “Cars are being torched in Berlin, perhaps you’ve heard something about that? Maybe you’ve read about it in the paper?”
You see her justification doubles as the beginning of her interrogation. Brilliant, this one.
Now I could give fuck-all-hell what motivated her ironic tone, be it genuine suspicion or a simple haughtiness. The fact is, we were at that very moment stopped from moving forward in the joyous part of our lives because we were suspects: Even if our having a clandestine laugh on the side of the road were not enough, we were both wearing black hooded sweatshirts and had rucksacks on. She thought she just might have nabbed a pair of ’em. And this, dear reader of my diary, is ALL THE JUSTIFICATION SHE NEEDED:
SHE THINKS. THEREFORE, WE ARE.
But here is where they really had us from the get-go: They didn’t say shit about our bike lights. With this they establish the con: Our indentured gratitude.
I know what some of you are thinking: If they’d both had full lights, etc. would they have been in a stronger position?
They ask for identification…. and then, of course, to search our bags.
“What were we doing there just then, stopped at the side of the road?”
“What are we doing here now, stopped at the side of the road?” would have been my answer were I not the guy to whom nobody ever has to say, “Fuck, man. Be cool!”
Mark that a point against me.
So Karo has his opportunity to retell the tale of his desire to alleviate the pain in his side (minus the part about a bike-lock around the waste being the style), rendered all the more adorable with hand gestures – and in Canuck German this time.
So, anyway, in and amongst her rooting through – or, more accurately – forcing Karo to root through his bag with curt instructions: “Hier.” “Da.” And having him emptying his pockets and lifting his shirt, etcetera etcetera, we are being told how we’ll soon be on our merry little way, just as soon as we cooperate with this little procedure, which at no point suffers a lack of detail, at least insofar as the justifiable justifying their justice is concerned.
Now at this point, our bike lights, or lack thereof, or the merciful non-acknowledgement of the same, were the furthest from my mind. I could only think about K’s weed. Right around the lifting-of-the-shirt I was getting a bit uneasy.
Make no mistake. While this was otherwise an annoyance and a huge hassle, it was also an injustice. And in case you are confused about the injustice bit, I am talking about MY MOTHER FUCKING RULES NOW, alright? Just so we get that straight before moving forward.
Now the veteran cop character can clearly sense – as he probably already had before this all began anyway – that this is going nowhere, but he’s just playing along, because that’s his role in this production.
He was sure to be the one to make references to our being on our way after mere formalities. But this was no Mutt & Jeff routine. You see, that’s how they pair ’em up: The farce is cast from headquarters, and he (and she, for that matter) ain’t laughin’ a one of ’em.
So she’s startin’ to call in our I.D.s, eye-balling us for what can only be our benefit. Now it’s Hans-Heinrich’s turn to rifle – excuse me – have me rifle through my bag.
It’s clear at this point that he doesn’t give a fuck about what’s in my bag or in our bags or that we don’t have bike lights the-both-of-us, or any such shit. He wouldn’t care if Karolidis had a whole damn kilo in his tobacco pouch…
Of heroin. Gentech and highly explosive. Out of Kandahar by way of a laboratory just outside but not quite beyond the Euro Monetary Kingdom. A country that just happens to double as a secret schlepping point. Or torture chamber.
He doesn’t give a fuck about any of that shit right now. Because, at the end of the day, he, like us, just wants to get the fuck home.
Unfortunately for him, he knows that once Karolidis and I are back on the road, he’ll be back in the squad car with Officer Gruff Gudrun. So he’s playing it out. But like any good actor, he remains focused on his intention from moment to moment.
His resignation comes through loud and clear (for her benefit this time, as much as mine) as he tells me “that’s okay” before I have a chance to show him what he asked for. Basically the same routine as her search of Karo’s bag, but even more superficial than hers was thorough (and thank goodness for small miracles).
Now time passes. Or is gonna pass. Cuz she’s waiting for a return on our particulars, with an ear to the phone trying to look as if it’s gonna pop up in any second now – and he doesn’t have anything better to do than stand around looking like a cop with nothing to do. Procedure.
I guess I must have blinked first.
When I am focused, with a purpose, my German can flow like it was meant to be… I basically took
“what is the opportunity to ask a question I have wondered about for some time, which would be ‘Is this valid identification for our purposes?’ [producing my relatively new German driver’s license] Because, of course, I happen to know that the photo copy of my passport and residence visa that I just gave you could have been grounds for making me lock my bike up here and carting me home to get my actual passport and booking me at the station and releasing me there, so that I have to come back here and get my bike, and so on, so, yeah, of course, I don’t carry the ol’ passport proper with me, not wanting to lose it an’ all, and anyway I heard.. [I shouldn’t be saying this] that a photo copy is enough under ‘standard’ circumstances, but if I were to, say, be doing something, uh, ill… hm. If I were… Well, anyway, it could be that sometimes you’d wanna see the original, so I was wondering whether or not this driver’s license was, um, valid as my sole I.D. as far as what I had to have with me, and all.”
He quite matter-of-factly told me that it was. By this I mean that he said something to the effect of “As a matter of fact, sure. It’s got your photo and name. It’s got what we need.” But that wasn’t enough for me, I was on a roll, and the partner still hadn’t gotten the dirt on us yet, so I continued with a monologue about how
“I had to buy glasses to get the license, though I don’t drive, I just wanted it for valid I.D. so sure am glad that it was valid and, whoo boy, how I had to get an eye test, which was conveniently done at the Crafters of All Things Eyeware located in the very same building downstairs from the license branch, and how I failed the test, making the only way that the lady’d give me a certification – which would’ve cost a mere few euro-bucks – would be to purchase a pair of brand new peeper-goggles, courtesy of hers truly.. and, again, I don’t drive, so I am happy that it serves as a valid I.D.”
Justifying the unexpected cost, as it were.
Boy-Cop seemed to be stimulated, so that led to a debate about the difference between the American and German right-of-way rules, the sign-age thereof, my belief that tourists shouldn’t be allowed to rent cars (playing the old “I’m for sensible law & order, too” card to compensate for my having just said that the German right-of-way is all wrong).
It was right about here that I saw a look in his eye that said “This guy is really fucking high!” and I shut up. This coincidently coincided with our being cleared to go and sent about our merry way.
So what is the moral to this story?
Theater. The law is no more real than the Chancellor’s billions more where that came from: We put up with it because we just wanna go home.
The catch: At some point somewhere, somebody else is gonna say “Halt.”
Now you tell me which one of those two working stiffs is looking forward to that day, and which one already regrets it.
Das Rad dreht weiter…
Posterior Scripture: As to the specifics of how the F.A.R. concert and event went last night: Most importantly, the concert performance was a triumph. There are details. And of these we have evidence. This will, in due time, present itself. That, too, is theater. But more pleasant, somehow.