We took a minibus the other day as we usually do when we have to go to places on the island. It is inexpensive transportation, though sometimes filled to the rim, always zooming like a bullet, weaving its way in the traffic on the narrow streets. I mostly close my eyes and try not feel claustrophobic. There are times that I enjoy the ride, especially in the mornings when outside is a bit cooler and inside not so full.
That day, our driver, a middle-aged, rugged islander, was trying to fill the bus so, on the look-out for customers. His helper showed a young woman waiting on the side, but the driver said “police”, and kept on going until the bus stop, not more than a hundred meters away. After waiting for a couple of minutes, and realizing that the woman had no intention of walking up, he backed the bus to where she was standing and let her in. While I was thinking the move as counter-productive, the police car that must have been following us, passed us and signalled the driver to stop at the side. Two young police men came out, and told the driver and his helper to come out and wait. No licence/registration was demanded. One of them took his time filling two forms in triplicate, for the driver and the helper, and handed a copy to each. We learned afterwards that each was fined 150 EC, for accommodating customers who did not care about bus stops. It turned out to be not so smart a move, knowingly defying the rule. I guess he thought the police would not fine him because it was the woman’s fault.
This was the only time we saw a police stopping a driver. Usually the police presence is felt in the crowds around the market, tourist shopping areas, places where school children gather.
I felt sorry for the driver, who silently waited and became extremely subdued afterwards while driving. The policemen on the other hand, looked so self-satisfied and in humour that they created a contrast. Power is a dangerous thing!