We have decided to take a year’s “sabbatical” based in Thailand; learn Thai, experience a different culture, explore the neighbouring countries and write. So our first priority was to obtain the correct visa for our stay and, after much debate, we finally settled on a retirement visa, as the main requirement is for one of us to be over fifty. One of us is, and it’s not me!(yet) This means that we can stay for a year without having to do a visa run every three months.
We also needed a Police Clearance Certificate and, never having run afoul of the law, this would seem to be a simple process. But, I did not factor in Darling Daughter, who I had left in charge of changing her car into her name before we left South Africa for our extended travels last year.
It came to my attention, just before I was due back in South Africa, that I had six warrants out for my arrest and thirty-two unpaid traffic fines against my name. Sister informed me that she no longer needed to fetch me from the airport as the police would be picking me up as I came though passport control. But she did kindly offer to visit me in jail and bring food!
You see, on opening my post box, Sister had discovered this large pile of notices and summons for me. She knew that these were not for my old car, so she raised me urgently on Skype (as I was in United States at the time) and we were both incensed by the fact that someone had stolen my identity. We devised plans and schemed how to catch the bugger, and the second-hand car dealership, where I had sold my car, was deemed to be the culprit. It was only by chance that Sister mentioned these fines to Darling Daughter a little while later.
“Are any of them for me?” Darling Daughter sweetly asked.
And why did Darling Daughter not pay these fines, you may well ask? Well, a student friend told her to just ignore them, and throw them away, (students can be very helpful in this way) and she happily did just that – for a year! And, because she received none of the follow-up notices, (of course she wouldn’t as her car was still in my name) she thought she was in the clear.
But by now it was late in the day, and Darling Daughter had final exams to prepare for and massive projects to hand in. It was no longer a simple task of just paying the fines, but required her going personally to more than one venue and queuing for a very long time, and time was a commodity in short supply.
In the meantime I needed to sort out our Thai visa, and could wait no longer, so I went ahead and applied for my Police Clearance Certificate, having sleepless nights that instead of getting Clearance, I would get Caught.
In the end the warrants and fines were all paid, the exams were passed and the Police Clearance Certificate obtained.
And, the upside of this story? Yes, there is an upside; you see in severing all ties with Darling Daughter’s car, I managed to snatch some valuable hours from Darling Daughter’s hectic schedule, meeting up with her at the local municipal offices to stand in long queues. Although this may not have been the quality time I had envisaged while travelling around the world, any time spent with Darling Daughter is always appreciated. And, for once, the lethargy of our S.A. Police was very much appreciated.
FRANSCHHOEK, SOUTH AFRICA: 19-12-2014