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Published: March 25th 2023
A brush with the Law!
After surviving the Clarence expedition Jan and I were due to catch a bus south to Kaikoura whilst Jamie and Ellie drove back to Nelson for work the next day. We had 2 hours to wait for the bus so we decided to try our luck at hitching again. Things were looking bleak after half an hour and few cars, but our saviour appeared in the guise of an old banger which veered off the main highway with some skidding to boot. Jayden welcomed us into his world. As the conversation evolved we learnt that he was currently unemployed. He'd been in and out of prison all his life. Jayden had a perturbing habit of drifting into the middle of the road and then suddenly overstearing into the nearside. He'd been driving most of the previous night. "How do you stay awake then?" Pete asked "gallons of coffee?"
"Something like that" he ominously replied.
A queue of cars appeared in front of us at a red light. Jayden appeared not to have noticed it until he was forced to a dramatic stop. The car in front was festooned with aerials, looking like a Sputnik. Jayden thought it might be a police car for that reason. We passed him later and soon enough we had flashing lights and a police siren behind us flagging us down.
Jayden seemed quite relaxed. A very respectful policeman started asking a few questions about the car; turned out it wasn't taxed or insured. Then we learnt that Jayden was still a learner driver and was driving whilst disqualified. He couldn't remember or maybe didn't know the name of the owner of the car; it was a friend's daughter's. He didn't have a phone number. He wasn't too concerned about any legal sentencing as he can only pay his 30 dollars a week as always or be put back in prison… sad and sobering for us to hear from the first driver to help us at the roadside.
It quickly became clear that we were innocent parties. The policeman recalled passing us hitchhiking.
Another police car appeared. "Our" car was impounded and a pick up truck arrived to take it away. Jayden was left at the roadside after declining a lift from the policemen.
Meanwhile we endeavoured to continue hitching, although we felt handicapped by the presence of two police cars with flashing lights and a recovery truck, creating a bit of a diversion for possible lift-offers.
Jan gamely approached and sweet-talked the recovery truck driver who kindly agreed to take us a little further down the road. Then the policeman pulled up and offered to take us all the way to our next hostel...hooray for the police! We had some great banter with him. He enjoyed our reflection that this experience was why we forbad our children to hitchhike. He lamented that he couldn't drive us to one of our children's houses, to deliver these delinquent oldies into safe hands.
We got to Kaikoura at the same time as the bus would have got there, but with a lot more excitement and drama. BIT embarrassing to be dropped at a hostel by the Rossers......
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