Police Pockets Are for Payoffs (AtoZ Travel Tips)

Police pocket are for payoffsPolice pockets are for payoffs, and there is no hiding it in Morocco.

As we drove through the interior we frequently came upon road blocks.  Our tale is best shared in a short story I recently took 2nd place for in a writing contest.  The rules: maximum 250 words  starting “I laughed silently”

Dad Knows What He’s Doing

I laughed silently as the officer instructed my husband to exit the car.  It felt odd to be on the ill-treated side of racial profiling.  Yet, I was intrigued by the corruption and blatant assumption that Europeans were prepared to pay “fines” for imaginary offenses.

The roadblocks were frequent in this African nation, and we were familiar with the drill. As we approached I reminded my husband to appear disinterested. However, his unintentional eye contact and gentle smile resulted in our being stopped.

I hoped this was going to cost us less than yesterday’s 300dh fine.

My daughter’s worried voice interrupted my thoughts, “Mom, dad’s arguing with the police and he looks mad.”

“Keep your eyes forward,” I reminded her. We were out of our comfort zone, but we knew that a woman’s place was silence.

“Dad knows what he is doing,” I assured her.

We breathed a sigh as he returned to the car smiling.  Today’s fictitious infraction was passing a truck on a curve, which carries a 700dh fine.  This was all written in Arabic for him to confirm, a language we don’t speak.

My husband simply announced to the officer “That’s too much.”

A brief negotiation resulted in 100dh paid directly into the officer’s pocket, a deal my husband happily took.

We were on our way until the next day’s roadblock, when I laughed silently as the officer stopped our car.

* * * * * *

Fiction or non-fiction?  Mostly true, I took liberties to stay within the 250 word limit.

Laugh Quote’s Travel Tips for the Day:

  • Talk to the locals, read, and know the protocol before you get pulled over. Police pocket are for payoffs in some places, however in most other countries hubby would have ended up in jail. He understood how it worked in this part of Morocco, so I am proud of hubby!
  • Negotiate, pay the price and go on with your day. We met a couple that refused to participate in a “payoff” so insisted on paperwork.  In their quest for honesty they ended up paying a 2,000dh fine.

 Police Pocket Are for Payoffs Pictures:

Are you kidding me?  No way was I taking police photos.  I wasn’t about to do anything that would upset the men who determined how much our fictitious fines would cost.

Instead, here are some roadside photos – all taken in the interior or in the Sahara from Marrakesh traveling east towards the border with Algeria.  If you are wondering, Morocco is one of my favorite places. The payoffs are just a part of their culture that seems easy to poke fun at for the letter P.

Police pocket are for payoffs

driving in marrakesh

Police pocket are for payoffs

driving in morocco


women carrying packs in Morocco

kasbah on the roadside

All photos ©Rhonda Albom 2011-2012.  All rights Reserved.

Have you been stopped for something you didn’t do?

What about a payoff, have you done it?  Would you do it?

I am participating in the A to Z challenge during April 2013. My topic: Travel Tips I Learned the Hard Way


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  1. Mike says

    Al lot of my misspent youth was on the streets of Juarez. “Mordida” (Spanish for ‘greasing the palm,’) is just a fact of life. I look at is as a tip, and budget accordingly.
    Oh, Joyce, it works in Kansas too.
    Mike recently posted…The Horror Of Hate

  2. says

    Yes! Once on Costa Rica for “speeding.” (Over those potholes? Seriously??) Twice so far in Mexico. One Mexican cop was nice & turned us loose. The other one was a dick who made my daughter cry. We weren’t going to pay, until we discovered we’d cleaned out the glove box and forgotten to return the insurance and registration paperwork. Gulp.

    Great story!
    Renee — RambleCrunch recently posted…Meet the barking parrot

  3. says

    I was a cop for 25 years and I never took a bribe. I would have been ashamed to do so and it’s against the law too. I don’t ever want to visit here. I’d be in jail and they would take everything I had. Awful.

    Have a terrific day. 🙂
    Comedy Plus recently posted…Smart Dogs

  4. Sandy says

    Very creative story, one I sadly fear is far too true in many locations. I love to travel, but my comfort zone definitely controls where I’m willing to travel.

    Sandy recently posted…Polygamy

  5. Wendy says

    Wow. Not a fun experience.

    My husband and I were remembering the other day about how during a vacation about 7 years ago, every one expected a tip. Not just the waiter. Tip the bathroom attendant. Tip the bus driver. What was next, tip the horse for not throwing you off during the horseback riding event? It felt ridiculous, but your story sounds downright scary. A good reminder to try to educate ourselves on foreign cultural expectations before we go. Too easy to forget that there isn’t a universal moral/cultural standard, every where is different. Thanks, very interesting blog!

  6. says

    Congrats on winning 2nd place in the contest Rhonda! I would’ve been a nervous wreck if that happened. It’s a good thing that you and the girls stayed calm. Unfortunately, I’m sure by now you’re all used to it.

  7. says

    Hi Rhonda .. I don’t think I have .. I’m glad to say … or I was with people who paid and knew their way around .. love your photos though .. cheers Hilary

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