The situation gets slightly more complicated if you happen to be in your car heading down the A3 down south on an 800 km road trip to Munich. Your beloved spouse just called you over that awesome Android smartphone of yours telling you your ID is still in her wallet. If you were needing it for anything urgent the upcoming days? Hell yeah, I happen to be 800 km away from home in a foreign country! OK, let it be a nicely civilized neighbouring European state, but still foreign. If I need it urgently you were saying? I have to check into the hotel tonight. Damned. But I’ve been there before. They should know me, no? Should be OK then. Tomorrow however I’m heading to Austria by car. Did I ever have a border control between Germany and Austria before? Not as far as I remember. Good neighbours have a little faith in one another, I should guess. They shouldn’t control each other all of the time. I would really bump into Murphy if I had one for this occasion.
Oh my holiness! The day after tomorrow I have to drop off my car at the Munich airport and fly back to Brussels! I realize I’ll never get on that plane without some ID. And we have this once a year Carnewal New Year family gathering on Sunday. Really can’t miss out on that one! No way! From that very moment on you start thinking on how you will get on that plane. How do I get my ID back when I’m not even staying at the same place for longer than 12 hours in row over the next 3 days?
But far more than thinking of some creative solution you start developing a super natural attention for policemen. Every policeman you spot inside your comfort zone is no longer your blue anchor of law and order but becomes a potential threat. You can’t stop thinking that if for whatever reason he or she stops you, you might get into trouble. Trouble that may prevent you from travelling any further and thus stop you from heading back home the day after tomorrow. With every boy in blue in sight, you get a little more paranoid and you start feeling more and more uncomfortable. What if he stops me? Even for a silly speed ticket? Was I over speeding? No I wasn’t, was I? After a while every uniformed person starts getting your attention. Even if it’s some security guard or a bus driver: it gives you this one second of cold sweat and stress.
For a moment you are thinking that this is exactly how an illegal immigrant must feel: stress whenever you come out. Scared as you might get busted on every corner of the street. Afraid to be noticed by the law and thus hiding. Not just once but every day. Every hour of every day. Every minute of every hour of every day.
The next morning the Murphy thing happens to me. While driving by the Grünewalder Stadion to pick up one of my team members who will join me on my trip to Austria, I bump into a police control: "allgemeine Verkehrskontrolle". For one second I was thinking of making a U-turn and trying to escape the control. You don’t want to get caught, do you? Can you just imagine: you a model citizen with snow white sheet thinking of running from a police control? Fortunately I quickly get back to my senses and stop my car nice and slow.
A young officer asks me if have been drinking alcohol. Hell no, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning. If I’m here in Munich for business. This is my way out! I start telling him in fluent German what brings me down to Munich and how much I love this city blah blah blah. And how we started up some new business here 4 years ago blah blah blah. Very successful in the meanwhile you know blah blah blah. That I have to pick up a colleague just around the corner blah blah blah. In between my sheer endless explanations he asks for the car papers. I take out all papers at once including my driver’s license and drop 'em into his hands. All but my ID, of course. He seems impressed. Or maybe he was just struggling with the documents, all in Dutch of course. “It’s OK” he says. I’m sorry sir? “It’s OK, have a nice trip to Austria”, is he serious? I start my engine and drive down the road, turn left and stop my car again. I need some fresh air first. Still can’t believe I got away with it, but I did. What a relief!
Long story short, I even got through the check-in and the security control at the airport the day after. But for obvious reasons I won’t tell you how I managed all that. But it wasn’t a comfortable feeling, I can tell you that. I often thought about the faith of illegal immigrants during those 3 days and how miserable it must be to live your life in constant fear and agony. Maybe you should give it some piece of thought as well, next time you hear a news item or read an article on illegal immigrants.