The one where I got stopped by police

I’m 41 and this was the first time I got stopped by police. To set the scene, here’s some background info on the current lockdown situation over here:

Baden Württemberg (where I live) has a curfew of 8pm. Bavaria (where my evening job is) has a curfew of 9pm. My evening job always finishes just after 9pm. Work is of course a valid reason to leave the house and we all have a confirmation letter from our employer that together with our keycard is like a permission slip. That day everyone in the office was saying how they had never been stopped by police and somebody was saying how they’d like to get stopped, so they can show their “permission slip”.


On my way home that same night, I see a police car behind me. No siren. On top of the car they have a sign that alternates between “police” and “stop”. And it’s signalling to the right. I’m driving on a country road and I am unsure what to do. While there are only few cars on the road anyway, if I park at the side of the road, I am basically blocking the whole lane. After a few moments, I figure it might still be best to stop, just in case… The policeman, wearing a mask, comes to my window. So, I also put on my mask. He says it’s a standard traffic stop and asks for my papers. I hand my papers to him.

He looks at them and says: You realize that your MOT has expired.

I say: Yes, I am aware but I still have 2 months to get it renewed.

He says: yes, you do. Then he asks: where are you driving to?

I say: I am going home after work. I have a permission slip from my employer, that I can show you, if you like.

He says: That’s ok. Where do you live?

I’m a little confused about that question but reply with the part of Ulm I live in.

He says: I’m just asking because you have a Rostock (city in the north east of Germany, almost 1000km from here) number plate.

I say: Well, it’s actually RO for Rosenheim (200km from here) and I moved here.

He wishes me a safe drive home and lets me drive on. The End.

Pretty unspectacular, right? And it really was. But it was remarkable in the following ways:

  1. I had never been stopped by police. Nor had I been present for one. But in my mind, police stops occur in either of these two ways: you get waved out of traffic by a stationary police car. Or the police car drives in front of you and gets you to slow down and stop that way. The scenario above was not part of my fixed idea and it threw me. And it made me think how we are so set on something happening in a certain way, that we overlook “it” actually happening, simply in a different way. 

  2. Because of the conversation in the office, I was convinced that the stop had to do with it being past curfew time. Had the police stop happened another day, and certainly outside lockdown, I would have worried myself over my expired MOT and/or having committed a traffic offense. That didn’t even cross my mind in that moment though! Two things about this: how often do we worry pointlessly about things that will never occur? And when you do, what are the consequences? And also: when are we convincing ourselves that we know for sure what is happening in any given situation, when we have no clue and need to acknowledge the subjective lens we are viewing the situation through? Similarly, the policeman probably was sure I was committing an offence by travelling across the whole of Germany during a lockdown, convinced he knew my number plate was from Rostock. (or not, I am not claiming I was able to read his mind ;-)).

Besides, this was the most exciting thing happening to me in recent weeks.

I hope you are all keeping well during these extraordinary times.

(and in case you are worried: I WILL arrange the MOT soon! 😉)

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