The police in most countries are pretty scary, right? I remember when I lived in Munich – whoa, thems were some nasty-looking upholders of the law you wouldn’t dare pick your nose in front of.
Even worse were the fabled Transport Police. What they would occasionally do is randomly pick a U-Bahn station (subway, metro, tube or whatever) and form two lines just outside the platform exits.
See, Munich has a ‘trust’ system in place on the public transport whereby there are no gates and no ticket collectors.
Now to make sure everybody doesn’t just ride for free, they have to put the fear of God into the plebs now and again, and hence the draconian tactics outlined above.
What you have to do upon leaving a targeted station is basically run the gauntlet between the two lines of six foot tall Aryans dressed in black uniforms and black peaked caps with silver braid, and present your papers to the officer at the end of the funnel.
Now I’m neither over seventy nor Jewish, but every time I experienced this treatment I had weird and disturbing flashbacks to another place, another time, if you know what I mean…
Japan, well, there’s another story altogether.
Let’s take a look at what happened last Saturday night. I’m hanging around outside Hiroshima Station with Danny Itoh, waiting for the last train home.
Now all stations seem to be magnets for those on the fringes of society, and this place is no exception. Homeless folks, skanks, the destitute, the insane, the inebriated, old women carrying enormous quantities of toilet paper for no reason, they’re all there.
Well, suddenly a ‘situation‘ develops among a group of homeless drunks; slurred insults are exchanged, there’s some pushing and shoving and a generally unpleasant to-do right there in the station concourse incommoding those folks intent on gaining egress to the iron horses.
But soon our heroes in blue arrive in a cavalcade of flashing lights and fluorescent vests. Wow! What an impressive sight! Of the ten or so cops, not one appears to be over 5ft, most of them are bespectacled, and several are of the female persuasion.
Up they come to the group of warring drunks, and brandish not clubs, guns, arrest warrants or handcuffs, but……clipboards. Ah yes, everything has to be properly notated and recorded in Japan.
So what happens? Are the offenders herded into waiting police vans to spend a night at His Imperial Majesty’s Pleasure? No, sir! There is a polite little chat, a few pens jotting on paper, and the huddle of diminutive coppers are on their way again, unwilling or too scared to take action against our little gang of scumbags.
That’s right, no arrests, nothing! And in fact, straight after the police make their pitiful exit, one of the drunks starts haranguing passers-by and gets into a fight with a young lad.
Nice one, Hiroshima constabulary! Thanks for making the streets safer with your wonderful weedy cop/scaredy cop routine…