I consider myself a nice guy (who occasionally can be an idiot) but we all know what happens to nice guys… We finish last and don’t get the girl. However a couple of weeks ago I had some proof that being a nice guy sometimes, and only sometimes does pay off.
Raquel and I were driving back home on the highway after spending the day in Johannesburg for interviews. I try and avoid driving to fast on highways for many reasons, but the main one being the most obvious: Fines. So usually when driving my dad’s car, I switch on cruise control to 120Km/h to avoid accidentally going over the speed limit.
However this day, the cruise control function was not working and a couple times during the drive, I would drift over the speed limit, while in conversation with Raquel, only to then slow down to below again.
It was during one of those lapses of concentration during conversation that in the distance I saw a traffic officer telling me to pull over. I knew immediately I was in the wrong and stopped.
The traffic officer walked over as I opened my window and this ensued:
Traffic Officer: Good afternoon sir. Do you know why I pulled you over?
Tony: Yes… I was over the speed limit.
Traffic Officer: Yes. Can I have your driver’s license please.
Tony: Sure. [I hand her over the license] You know that unfortunately in this car if you are not paying attention to the speedometer, you can go over the limit without really feeling it. You can ask my wife, as we driving I had to slow down a couple of times in conversation when I realized I went over.
Traffic Officer: Ya I know these cars, you don’t really feel how fast you go.
Tony: I usually use the cruise control, but its broken.
Traffic Officer: Eish… That’s bad, but unfortunately you were over and I have to fine you. The fine is R500.
Tony: What?!? [Raquel and I were slightly stunned as we have been saving up for when we get our house etc. so R500 was a big deal for us]
Traffic Officer: Yes. I’m just going to take the registration number.
The traffic officer had been very polite up all the way through
Tony: [I look at the traffic officer and smile saying] See this is the problem of being married to a beautiful woman… She distracts me while I am driving.
Traffic Officer: [She bursts out lauging] Ya I can see but don’t blame her for not being concentrated. But you know, if everybody I stopped on the road was nice like you, my job would be easy… So you know what… I’m not going to write were speeding… I’m going to write you didn’t have a seatbelt and give you a discount of 50% so you will pay a fine of R125.
Both Raquel and I are stunned by her kindness and then I realize I was wearing Raquel’s very feminine sunglasses as mine were at home.
Tony: Thank you so much! But you know what, you didn’t even tell me my sunglasses are nice!
Once the traffic officer bursts out laughing and looks at Raquel and goes…
Traffic Officer: Ehhhe…. You married a funny man. When you are cross with him he makes you laugh doesn’t [and she laughs some more].
She gave us the fine laughing and told us to be careful not go over the speed limit again. We said goodbye and left laughing thinking about how nice she was. I explained to Raquel that many South Africans have a short temper when it comes to traffic officers and usually either bribe them or shout and protest innocence.
Here is a video of South African hidden camera prankster dressed as a traffic officer and how most reactions are aggressive.
The lesson learnt is that being nice sometimes does help.