It being the silly season, the police are currently out in force with random roadblocks popping up everywhere - quickly moving on before the word spreads where they are.
Thus it was I was toodling home from the mall this week and a bloke with a reflective vest jumped out into the road to wave me over. Along with a few other vehicles.
Normally we as drivers try to avoid police stopping us. We change lanes, we turn off and go another route before we reach them, we generally expect much unpleasantness.
Well this time I pulled over, opened the window and greeted the obvious boss of the group who walked up to Olivia. Large, white and Afrikaans, he looked like a typical traffic cop in South Africa. But instead of asking for my licence etc, he started peering at, walking around and gesturing toward my Landy with a few people in tow!
I jumped out to see what he was up to - and found out he's busy rebuilding a Series vehicle. He asked what engine I had - he's got the same. Then it was a general look-in as I had to unlock the bonnet, show him what was in there - yup, same engine - and chat through the joys of replacing and fixing various bits, who to get them from locally, how it's hard to find some parts but not others. He informed me he's redone the diffs, he's changed this and that, and it's nearly done.
Meanwhile his tiny, ancient, coloured colleague was doing the usual police stuff - writing down registration, make/model - and finally got a word in to ask for my licence. When I handed it to him, he got this funny look on his face.
Oh dear.. I know it hasn't expired, what's the problem?
No, nothing - it seems we have the same birthday! He's 48, I'm 39 (hmmm... he's not as ancient as I thought at first). So it was handshakes and birthday wishes for last weekend all round, "and my name's Nick", "pleased to meet you!".
Final look at my registration, and an "oh, you're from here! see you around", then it was a wave back on my way with smiles and greetings.
Now I know police are merely humans like the rest of us. In fact I know quite a few of them pretty well as we provide wireless internet to the crime scene investigation unit's guys in their offices. We're on first-name basis with the entire floor. And by association, when we stop off at the police station for various reasons, the guys there know who we are too.
But guess what - my perception of roadblocks has been completely changed by this one event. Traffic cops doing their festive season duty indeed, but with a lot more in common than we could ever have imagined.