I could not believe my luck. About 50 feet in front of us, a police officer was standing next to his car, waving me over. As I pulled off the road a few feet behind the police car, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that my vacation to Morocco was not going to go as smoothly as expected. As I sat in the car with my sister, we waited to see what the officer had waved us over for. After the officer finished explaining the offense to my sister in Arabic, and she interpreted the meaning back to me, I learned that I had been excessively speeding. He walked to the back of our car to write down our license plate number.
The good thing about growing up in Colombia is it taught me that everything is always negotiable. I jumped out of the car, and in a combination of broken English and Spanish, I began to defend myself.
Broken English, you might ask? Well, Americans don’t typically have a great reputation overseas, especially in developing nations, so I tried to disguise my American blood and focused on a common ground: soccer and Falcao. After a few minutes of talking about soccer, the officer came clean; he had no interest in writing me a ticket, but he wanted a bribe. Although I was caught off guard, I was relieved to realize that a ticket was not in my future. Using the dusty back window of the car as a chalkboard, I drew out a compelling argument that the money he wanted for the bribe was better spent in the pockets of those who cater to tourists than in his pocket.
After going back and forth about who would benefit the most from the bribe, the officer agreed to let us go on our way! As I jumped into the car with my sister and drove away as quickly as possible (we did not want him to change his mind), we tried to process what had happened.
Communication is the ability to transfer an idea from one person to another, which I was able to do in Spanglish. I was able to explain that I was visiting my sister in Morocco and that we were taking a 10-day road trip around the country. What I believe to have been the difference was transference of feeling. Did the officer feel the same feelings I felt of traveling Morocco and spending my tourist money on tourist attractions? We shall never know for certain. What we do know is that…the same tactic worked not once more…but three more times while on our 10-day trip!