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  1. #1
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    Default Chiri in AMETland

    I have tried to go through life as an expatriate resident of the DR without having to experience too much of the Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare side of life here. One notable exception was my immersion into the residency process a couple of years ago, which I catalogued for the benefit and amusement of fellow posters here.

    In fact, this reminds me of a friend whose intricate and often lurid personal problems would make for very good dinner table conversation, and she would say - often through sobs - "I only do these things to amuse my friends". The lesson for me has been, in times of adversity, however frustrating, never lose sight of the fact that it will make for a great anecdote, or at very the least a mediocre DR1 post, some time in the future.

    Anyway, the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed my passing reference to having been fined for a minor traffic offence in AZB's recent AMET thread.

    This happened last week, on a main Santo Domingo intersection where, apparently, it is forbidden to turn left. In the dimension I inhabit there is no indication that such a manoeuvre is prohibited, so when the light changed to green, I swung my little tin box leftwards, only to realise my mistake when I saw the stream of oncoming traffic. The AMET chappie on duty asked for my licence, and before I could deftly extract the photocopy I keep handy in my wallet, he got his paws on the real thing, also tucked into my wallet. Anyway to cut a long story short, and swiftly skimming over the bits where I lose my usual ice-cool demeanour and start kicking inanimate objects on the roadside, he wrote me a ticket and retained my licence.

    On closer inspection, it turns out I don't just have to pay a fine (amount to be determined) but I had to attend a tribunal on Friday 29th October. Great! I think. That gives me time to prepare my case!

    My attorney (well, my husband) and I marched into the AMET HQ this morning in full courtroom drama attire and armed with photos of the intersection that demonstrate the absence of any 'no left turn' signpost, and showing the road surface markings with a big arrow pointing left. This, BTW, had been dismissed by my AMET buddy as 'the responsibility of Obras Publicas'.

    We were met with total pandemonium. Forget Kafka. Think Dante. A dimly-lit sweaty entrance hall with a sizeable horde of angry men waving traffic tickets in the air, in the direction of an official standing on a small flight of stairs. A helpful bystander points me towards the court room, explaining that women don't have to go through this indignity. Lesson no. 1: if you are careless enough to get fined, make sure you are not a man. My husband was prevented from entering the court room with me, even when I tried to persuade the man at the door that I needed him to interpret for me. He wasn't having any of it.

    The courtroom was crowded but a little less chaotic, in that my details were swiftly taken by a polite and sympathetic clerk, and the official who fixes the amount of the fine took his time to listen to my case and agreed that I should have had a verbal warning from the AMET cop, and not a fine. He said that the judge was not there today, otherwise she had the power to cancel the fine, but that he would fine me the symbolic minimum of RD$25. I don't know how common this is, but sneaking peeks at other people's slips of paper they were getting fines of RD$250, 500 or more.

    The people in the courtroom were - if you can go by appearances - from the lower end of the social-economic spectrum. There was no-one there who resembled the people I see violating traffic laws on a daily basis. You know the types: the baseball cap wearing jevitos in new cars, the elegant ladies with big hair and long nails, expensive cellphones and luxury cars or SUVs, or the bigshot men in similar vehicles. These people were not represented in this group, which appeared to consist mainly of carro publico drivers, commercial vehicle drivers and the odd middle-income professional who just about manages to afford a 15 year old car. Few of the people there looked smart enough even to be a chauffeur or messenger for a wealthy person. Lesson no. 2, as if we needed to be told, is that if you want to do whatever you want in this country, don't make the mistake of being poor.

    The impression one gets is that if an AMET official has the temerity to stop some powerful, wealthy or well-connected individual, they face getting into trouble, or at the very least the offender manages to get off the hook with a quick cellphone call to the corridors of power and influence. Who is left then? The small fish. Not that concho drivers are blameless, on the contrary, but I am sure many of the people there were in the same category as me. I wonder if in the recent AMET crackdowns they have to fulfil a quota of fines, because fining me was really scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of traffic offenders.

    I was too angry to post about this until today. Now, having only wasted a few hours of my time, and just RD$25 poorer, I can just about see the funny side. I hope you did too.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Next time, try fainting dramatically during the hearing while your doctor from the Clinica Abreu rushes to your side yelling something about your heart condition. Or is that reserved for blueblood murder cases and Baninter elites only?

  3. #3
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    Default Chiri

    Thank you for sharing. I am sure AMET court is one place none of us wants to go. I always enjoy your view on things

    JD

  4. #4
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    Default Just curious...

    "The AMET chappie on duty asked for my licence, and before I could deftly extract the photocopy I keep handy in my wallet, he got his paws on the real thing, also tucked into my wallet."

    Is it normal for people to give them a photocopy instead of the original?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dominicangirl
    Is it normal for people to give them a photocopy instead of the original?
    For people who don't want to be extorted from it is. Dominican police are known to demand $$ in exchange for one's own license.

  6. #6
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    Loved it Chiri! Next time (hope there never is) try the cushion under the dress routine & go into full labour in the courtroom. Well, they believed I was pregnant when I mistakenly parked in the expectant mothers' spot at Tropical & you know how old I am! They even saw me across 27 de febrero with elaborate concern.......probably thought I was going to 'drop' any minute! At least you're the right age.

  7. #7
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    Great post Chirimoya. Very imformative and easy to visualize. I do get a kick out of the photocopy thing though. That would never fly here in Canada.

  8. #8
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    If you can't beat the devil then join it. I have become friendly with a few AMET police and personally know a supervisor who is in charge of my area where my office is. Santiago is small so they all know each other. Whenever I get stopped by one, I make them call my buddy on the walkie talkie and I am set free the next minute. I even Hit an AMET with my car while driving and was able to go free with a smile and a hand shake. I was looking at something and didn't notice AMET police had come in the middle of the street stopping traffic. By the time I realized he was in front of my car, I slammed on my brakes but still managed to hit him. All hell broke loose and I was about to get arrested. I was able to calm him down and convinced him that I was his supervisor's friend. I was let go with a hand shake.
    So get to know a supervisor and make your life easy.
    AZB

  9. #9
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    Next time? There'd better not be a next time. The fine is the least of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lambada
    Well, they believed I was pregnant when I mistakenly parked in the expectant mothers' spot at Tropical & you know how old I am!
    More to the point, I know how slim you are. I long for the day when I am flattered at being mistaken for a pregnant woman.

    Without wanting to hijack my own thread, am I the only person who thinks that those 'pregnant women' parking spaces are ridiculous? Since when does pregnancy prevent anyone from being able to cross a car park? It would be more helpful to have 'parent and child' parking spaces that are nearer the exit, and wider to make it easier to strap them in their child seats. I know. All together now: "What child seats?"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZB
    If you can't beat the devil then join it. I have become friendly with a few AMET police and personally know a supervisor who is in charge of my area where my office is. Santiago is small so they all know each other. Whenever I get stopped by one, I make them call my buddy on the walkie talkie and I am set free the next minute. I even Hit an AMET with my car while driving and was able to go free with a smile and a hand shake. I was looking at something and didn't notice AMET police had come in the middle of the street stopping traffic. By the time I realized he was in front of my car, I slammed on my brakes but still managed to hit him. All hell broke loose and I was about to get arrested. I was able to calm him down and convinced him that I was his supervisor's friend. I was let go with a hand shake.
    So get to know a supervisor and make your life easy.
    AZB

    Chiri, you have a gift for storytelling. Interesting, informative, humorous, educational.

    However, it appears that AZB has the proper mindset when it comes to things like this. His approach would save one all the inconvenience and annoyance and reflection. I mean, who needs it?

    Larry

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