If you’re faced with a discussion on this with a gendarme, I’d suggest the ever popular “shouldn’t you be chasing real criminals” retort. That should get them on your side
Ha ha… it wasn’t that big… and OH has confirmed it was meant for folks taking a quick dip. In those days one didn’t go to the beach armed with passports and other stuff, just the car keys and a note/change for a coffee afterwards.
I have a friend who treats all Police enquiries with disdain…
Hello Sir, where are you going at this hour?
What’s it got to do with you???
Do you mind telling me where you are going Sir…?
Yes, I do mind, it’s nothing to do with you.
Using varying phrases, he treats any Police questioning as rudely as that… and yet, he’s a lovely man at any other time. Very Strange…
Has he tried that on a French gendarme?
This is one occasion when I am glad that a very dear friend does NOT live in France.
Although the French gendarmes/police etc do have a sense of humour. I’ve spent some happy times at the local clink…
Hummmm I recall reading an account on a now long defunct expat forum where there were problems with motorcyclists posing as Gendarmes stopping UK regn cars and demanding on the spot fines… On one occasion, a UK driver was stopped and the driver asked the Gendarme “but how do I know you are a genuine cop?” to which the said Gendarme replied… “but messieur, I am the one with the pistolet!”
Some of my best friends (read drinking buddies) a retired gendarme colonels . I must say in the rare and infrequent interactions (thank goodness) I’ve had with the police and gendarmes they have always been very pleasant. I was stopped once and the Gendarme asked why I hadn’t exchanged my licence for a French one and I explained one didn’t need to unless one had committed an offence. He very kindly offered to sort that out for me. It’s only the butch ones in shirtsleeves driving at speed in formation on BMW bikes that scare me. Them and the CRS hiding around Parisian corners in in riot vans of course.
We were in Calais and stayed at the same hotel as the law and order brigade … all those extras who’d been brought in to deal with riots or whatever round the port/tunnel.
At first, I was reticent (yes, it has been known) but their good manners and friendliness soon had us all chatting over our breakfasts. They didn’t turn a hair at our accents… although they were probably just glad we weren’t using 4-letter words at them.
did you take him up on his generous offer?
What, 5 minutes & the cost? 13.76€ by the way.
A photocopy is still a photocopy…
I made my excuses and left, as they used to say in the News of the World
I appreciate you are jesting - I do hope you are.
I have never forgotten what my boss came up with as we pulled away from the border between CH and IT, where the CH douane had really gone overboard with checking off the list of camera equipment against the physical objects.
It had been long day in the sun at the top of a mountain shooting pics of yoof slurping Coca Cola in the snow … “Show me this lens. Show me that lens. Show me these motor drives …”
“Kid. You were kinda salty with that guy. Remember - they have ALL the power.”
And another thing to remember - they don’t have to be right, at the time. Being wrong doesn’t mean they won’t give you plenty grief. That they turned out to be wrong doesn’t give you back the time they took to mess you about and if you were ‘a bit salty’ with them, a quiet word to their superior when presenting the report “Smart arse thinks he knows … plenty of attitude with this guy.” And things have suddenly got worse.
Exactly the sort of quip that would get you in deeper.
But we know you are jesting, no?
I’m positive that we all do the right thing, when the occasion demands it…
That’s the problem with being at a “difficult age”
Well, Stella, I just gave you an example where I did not. We were all tired from hours at Xk metres altitude, in hot sun. We’d passed thru’ IT and CH customs with no more than a cheery wave, on the way there.
Now, on the way back there’s this guy picking over the equipment cases, me having to pretty much unload the entire lot from the back of the bus … “Show me this … show me that …”
Circumstances can get the better of one. Or, worse still, one could have the notion, complete with added attitude, that the official in question does not know the rules and launch into a disputation [see Scully, above]
There are occasions and parts of the world were simply being stopped means you’re already in a hole. It’s vital to remember not to start digging.
Passing thru Customs on the way back to London from Nairobi, I noticed that they were weighing our equipment cases. Heavy stuff, camera gear. They told me they were going to base ‘export duty’ on the result. We paid nothing on the way in. Would have been a telephone number, especially in Kenyan £. I am sure it will have been some sort of addendum to the official salary …
I happened to mention, in a pathetic sort of way, that coming from UK to Kenya to work with Dr Michael Woods, the creator of The East African Flying Doctor Service and then find we had to pay a massive amount to take our equipment home … Suddenly we were VIPs. No mention of paying anything. In fact we would be boarding first, as top priority and our luggage taken by a special team and loaded before everybody else’s stuff…
We had this sort of caper in Brazil where two cops had set up a ‘freelance’ roadblock on a remote part of the Rio - San Paulo coast road. Our producer had the wit to buy ‘season tickets’ for our fleet of vehicles, which passed thru’ this point twice a day for a month.
Arguing with the local Commandant would have been disastrous. He would undoubtedly have been in for a cut.
They have ALL the power.
Driving from LA to Miami on my own, I was not so much scared of being car-jacked - just a tad nervous of that. What I was really scared of was being stopped by the cops.
I am not going to try this, as although gendarmes can be lovely people socially they also can forget this niceness at work!
However in the age of dematerialised documents I wonder whether a photo on my phone would suffice? The mairie is accepting a dematerialised état civil for my passport application….
seems to me that you did exactly the right thing… in that situation…
I tend not to antagonise nor argue with anyone. Particularly if they are carrying a gun.
In all seriousness though, keeping things polite (no matter the provocation) is my preferred course of action, though I rarely need to practice that. I can count on one hand my dealings with the police - and one of those times was reporting my motorcycle stolen. I’m no saint nor goody-goody, I just like an easy life.
That seems a reasonable idea… especially when dealing with gun-toting officers … even though our locals are “gentle giants”.
Fortunately, my lovely friend lives in UK (well away from us)… and it’s his own local force he is treating with such disdain and bloody-mindedness, so no guns involved.
I have various dealings with our gendarmes… for all the right reasons… honestly… and they are a good bunch.