In the name of the law

By Fawzi Adam

At half past eight in the morning I was driving from Shepparton to Melbourne to be on time for a course in journalism at Melbourne University.

I needed to fill up the tank with petrol. There is a petrol station on the edge of the Shepparton, about seven kilometres away from where I live. I stopped there. I had $25 in my pocket and I wasn’t paying attention when I was putting in the petrol. My hand slipped and I accidentally put in $7 more petrol than I could pay for.

It was really embarrassing. I didn’t quite know how to deal with this. Anyway, I went to the petrol station attendant and asked if there was an ATM. He pointed one out to me. I tried to withdraw money from the machine but I had forgotten my pin number because I don’t use my card very often.

So I went back to him and asked him if I could try EFTPOS. But that wasn’t working either. So I asked him if I could go to the car and check if there was any money lying around in there. Unfortunately, there was nothing. I came back into the shop I told him I couldn’t find any more money and asked him what I should do.

At that moment, I saw a huge policeman, with his full uniform and gun in its holster. He looked as though he was browsing for a newspaper, but I knew in an instant that he was there for me.

I told the petrol station attendant I would call my wife to ask her to help me. As I was beside my car trying to call, the policeman, who had gone outside without buying anything and seemed to be waiting for me, snatched the eftpos card from my hand. He started to question me about my licence and saw that the surname on my bank card was not the same as on my licence. I tried to explain to him that the Department of Immigration had given me different surnames on different visas because in Arabic countries we have multiple surnames in our passports so they get confused.

I was feeling really annoyed about the policeman because he was treating me really badly. I felt he was very rude. He was treating me like a criminal, as if I had robbed the shop, but I had never tried to avoid paying and it was only $7. He didn’t give me a chance to call my wife or to explain the situation.

The policeman took my details from my licence and my bank card and told me I should change the name on the licence. When he handing them back, he said nothing. I went over to the service station attendant again and told him I would be back next weekend to pay the $7.

Next week, I returned to give the attendant the $7. He seemed very surprised. He thanked me a lot. I apologised to him about what had happened and told him it really was an accident.

I heard no more from the police about this. But I learnt my lesson. Next time I have limited money in my pocket I’ll be using the pre-set buttons on the petrol pump.

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