Most of you already know I’m coming to you from the island of Bali in Indonesia.
As I’m sure you can imagine, being a police officer in a place like Indonesia is an incredibly lucrative gig! Very few minor infractions ever make it into court. Most are settled on the spot with the arresting officer, in the form of a… well… let’s just call it a cash donation. That’s what they call it! 🤣😂🤣
And as a foreigner in Indonesia—a bule—you’re an attractive target for all kinds of reasons. Best to stay out of trouble
So yesterday morning I went out to breakfast. I was in my head on the way out of the restaurant, so distracted I hardly remember hopping on my bike and riding away. So it wasn’t until I reached the main intersection near my house and locked eyes with the cop directing traffic that I realized I had forgot to put on my face mask.
For a bule, that is a serious infraction! People literally get deported for it every week. So when this cop pulled me over, his eyes were rolling like he’d won the freaking lottery.
Now some of you also know that I’ve been studying the local language, Bahasa Indonesia. Really serious study for the past three months: two classes a week and an hour or two daily of flash cards (I use AnkiApp) and Duolingo.
So when the guy pulled me over, I started babbling as fast as I could.
I apologized profusely. I said I’d just left breakfast and forgot to put on my mask but had it in my bag. He asked me where I’d been and I remembered that Indonesians ask nosy questions when they’re trying to be friendly, so I told him where and what I ate and just for good measure I told him that the puppy one table over chased the local cat.
And—trust me, this was astonishing to both of us—I said it all in Bahasa Indonesia.
So while all this was going on, I removed my helmet, pulled out my mask and put it on, and replaced my helmet. Then I thanked the officer profusely for stopping me, cranked my throttle, and rocketed back into traffic and away. I caught a glimpse of my guy as I rounded the corner: speechless and empty-handed.
Now THAT felt like a language-learning milestone! And in under sixty seconds it completely paid for my last three months of language classes.
So for anybody out there who thinks you can’t teach an old dog a new trick… WOOF.