Hello! It is great to see you all here, welcome to corruption scho…. uhhh.. Kazakhstan police academy. During this full day course, we’ll make sure you learn all the necessary skills to function as an official Kazakh police officer! Don’t worry it’s not difficult, even that guy sitting next to you can do it! And, even though your salary will be abysmal, the ‘bonus system’ will allow you to supplement your income generously, more on this topic during the morning main session.
At the end of the day you will be presented with a complete toolkit for your new job, it will include:
- a gun, obviously
- a dildo shaped stick, to wave at traffic stops
- 15 blank traffic tickets, don’t worry, you learn you’ll never need them, they will last you a lifetime
- A broad and confusing set of speed limit signs
- And, of course, your very own handheld speed camera. (actually, these are expensive, you’ll need to share it with that guy sitting next to you).
The afternoon will be divided in to several workshops: ‘How to hide my IQ behind a scowl’, ‘personal hygiene: how to wash your uniform and yourself at least once a month’, ‘hospitality: the words ‘fine’ and ticket’ in six languages’, ‘Digging potholes: the ideal trap’ and ‘Passing the time: how to fondle yourself in the back of a police car’. But, that’s all after lunch. Now let’s get started with the foundation of your career, ‘Threats, bribes and screwing tourists: The bonus system’.
Ahhh… that felt good. It’s my meagre revenge… Just because kicking a police officer in the balls and then spitting him in the face is frowned upon, even in Kazakhstan.
I always knew that on a trip like this, getting robbed was a risk. We are rich tourists, walking around with a sign saying ‘ATM’ on our backs. We prepared for this, having ‘fake wallets’ and hiding our money in our underwear. I always envisioned myself headbutting the would-be robber in the face, Jack Reacher style, before dragging him to the nearest police officer. That doesn’t really work when the robber is a state sponsored and armed moron, just like all his colleagues your like to report him to. So, twice in two days we received outrages fines for ‘speeding’. If the order of the speed limit signs is ’50-90-70’ then obviously, you should have been doing no more then 50 after the last sign. We argued for all we were worth, but the fine officer was going to take our licences for 30 days and we could argue the case at some later date with some other corrupts asshole, or pay a fine on the spot without having to bother with the paperwork.
It left me seething and from that point onward instead of dividing our attention between potholes and our surroundings it become potholes, exact speed, potential places to hide a police car and speed limit memory, effectively ruining the remainder of the day.
But, when we weren’t worrying about the police Kazakhstan was beautiful. Endless plains, hour after hour of empty rolling hills, maybe two villages per day before ending the days in increasingly Soviet-era towns.