"Fucking asshole cop", I thought to myself. I sneered and scowled towards the strutting peacock with the whistle.... "A typical corrupt idiot Thai policeman", I whispered under my breath and shook my head.
He was a tall man with a rough face... somewhat potmarked. He wore a tight brown uniform, a brown helmet, long brown polyester pants, and tall black boots. He was blowing on his whistle like a runaway train and waving his arms frantically at slowing cars. Standing at the entrance of Khao San Road-- he ran towards any car or taxi that dared to stop and block the road. While a sign clearly indicated that this was a no-dropoff zone, the rule (like most in Thailand) was routinely ignored. But now super cop was on the beat. "Gestapo bastard", I thought to myself.
He stared menacingly and threatened drivers who started to slow.
Since that first day, I've seen him many times. Always blowing on that damn whistle nonstop. Always strutting and waving frantically.... keeping the goddam traffic moving. He's relentless. And every time I"d curse under my breath and rehearse a mental diatribe about cops in general: the evil cop mentality, the abuse of power, the arrogance, the corruption, etc...
A few days ago I was strolling by with Kristin and she too noticed super cop. She started to laugh and said, "He's not a real policeman you know".
"Yeah, Wat told me he has been here for years. He's mentally ill. He wanted to be a cop, so the police gave him a uniform and let him direct traffic"
I laughed, widened my eyes, and gave him a good look. Sure enough, he did not have a gun or nightstick-- standard issue for all Thai police. I shook my head and laughed louder.
All my nasty preconceptions evaporated. I now saw a humorous and sympathetic figure... here is one guy in a cop uniform who takes his job seriously..., "probably the only honest cop in Thailand", I chuckled. I crossed the street to Burger King, clogged my arteries with french fries, and watched him earnestly direct traffic: a man on a mission!
"Only in Thailand", I thought. This could never happen in America. Never in a million years would a police force let a mentally unbalanced man wear a uniform- just to give him a sense of purpose.
Now I felt like an asshole. All my nasty judgements were wrong. This was not a power hungry bastard. And the local police also seemed to have hearts... at least in relation to this man. The Thai merchants on Khao San tolerated him too. They smiled to the man, chatted with him. Only the tourists and quick-to-judge expats, like me, snarled.
All is not always as it seems.