Mam, I think you’re overweight

Mam, I think you’re overweight

One fine Saturday morning, I decided to get a babysitter and go to the hardware store with a friend. They had a gardening section, and we were loading up woodchips, geraniums, and little bits for both of our homes. I had a huge “mama car” at the time. You get the drift; a seven seater and a monster of a car.

We loaded the car with all of our newly purchased goodies. Among them were about seven bags of wood chips. As we were driving out of the parking lot flashing lights appeared behind me. I was puzzled… what could I have done wrong? I was still in the parking lot.

The officer came up to my window and said, “Mam, I think you’re overweight!”

Now if you know me, you will know that that is not the case and it certainly wasn’t then.  I had recently moved from France to Switzerland. In France, you could easily get out of a situation with a police officer by using a bit of charm. This part of Switzerland is French speaking, so I was naive enough to think same language same culture. I answered using all my feminine charm and a smile, “Officer, do I look over weight? Seriously, my husband is going to be angry that you pulled me over for this!” The officers look turned angry and annoyed; he told me it was no joking matter. I was ordered to follow him to a weighing station… police lights flashing.

By the time we got there, I had done the math in my head and knew I wasn't overweight and that my car was not too heavily loaded. I gave the officer the documents to my car and tried to reason with him by doing the math. He was clearly wrong, but he ignored me. I then got out of the car… BIG MISTAKE! He hollered at me to get in the car shouting, "Hands on the wheel." He then explained I was over the allowed weight and I would have to follow him, yet again, to a police station, unload my car and take more than one trip to get my garden supplies home. His last words were that it would cost me over a 1000CHF and that I would be sorry!

I knew I was right and I was; there was never a ticket or a fine, of course not, I wasn’t overweight, and neither was my car. If you are new in a country, read about the laws and ask questions to locals about the customs before joking with an officer. I will never forget that morning; I know now not to fill my car to full, that the Swiss police officers are hanging out at hardware stores and I have a seriously great party story.

—Allison Ochs