Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stopped by the rendőrség

I can't believe it's November already. The weather has been pretty good here lately, after a rotten September. I was so ready to go home; it rained every day. November has been unseasonably warm according to the locals, and I'll take it. We finally got a car a couple of weeks ago-- you have to have a resident card before you can buy a car and that takes immigration quite a while. Kent rightly has said that my freak out about the house delayed our visit to the immigration office, but I think that the delay is about the same for everyone. The school arranges car transfers for some teachers who know they are buying another teacher's car, and so some people showed up and a car was waiting for them. I think they didn't officially own it until their immigration papers come through, but have the use of the car as if it was theirs. That would have been a good thing. 

The driving here is very similar to Boston, so since I'm used to people driving like jerks, I have a leg up. People from other, more polite parts of the US, are appalled by the drivers. One thing that's quite different is the passing. We call it Hungarian Roulette. They will zoom past on a blind hill, and then dodge in front of you to avoid the oncoming traffic, then take the first right, as if those extra 11 seconds are going to make a difference. I keep telling myself that maybe they are speeding to the hospital or something like that. It helps me not hate them and curse them for being asses. 

We had the car for about one week when I got stopped and screamed at by the police- the rendőrség. He came over to the car and started talking really fast. I asked (in Hungarian) if he spoke English and then-- he started yelling at me. Most of it  I couldn't understand, but the main point was that I was in Hungary and should speak Hungarian. (Of course, he had a point there, but I told him- in Hungarian-  that I was learning Hungarian but that I didn't speak well.) 

It didn't matter-- he ranted for a while and then screamed "Pass-a-port!!!" which I understood well enough. When I handed over my international driving license (I don't actually carry my passport) he went on in this horrible taunting voice "America, America, nem beszelsz Magyarul." (you don't speak Hungarian). I kept my hands on the wheel, and just kept saying "I'm sorry, I don't understand." 

Finally, his calmer, younger partner said in English "You cannot take a left hand turn from Pasareti Utca."  Oh--- didn't know that. So, I apologized a bunch more, and the older guy continued to  say "USA, USA.... " and carry on his general rant. It was pretty ugly. But I think they could tell that we had only had the car for a week.  Then "bad cop" kind of threw the papers back at me and left the said of the car to go back to the police car. I wasn't sure if I was getting a ticket, or if they were getting the stun gun out to detain me. Then they drove off.... I haven't driven in the city since then; it kind of freaked me out. 

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