|If you look very closely, it says, "you're screwed"|
Police Station. Each of my many trips to retrieve the tags possessed a new task delegated by the authorities which needed to be done in order to retrieve my number plates and get back on the road. After completing each of these my tag's captors would contrive new, and increasingly difficult, chores for me to complete. Though my dismay was great, I was very fortunate to have the support of good friends in Vienna to house Daisy and I as I formulated a plan to make my escape from Austria. Making plans isn't something that has come easy for me. I'm more capricious than calculative. However, as I've grown older I have learned a lesson or two of how to avoid being bloodied.
Scotch, how smoothly it goes down. One swig after another, I felt no physical opposition to what might be considered outright swilling. On a night as warm as the whisky infused lining of my stomach, I was playing the part of infidel in the midst of a sea of Palestinians. Though I was breaking rules of Ramadan, none of the plebeians stuck behind the fence of the Israeli border crossing at Taba particularly cared. They were focused on spending Eads with their loved ones in some other God forsaken land of rock and sand. Perhaps I was somewhat aloof to Muslim tradition, however, I am always acutely aware of humanistic desire. I am, after all, very human.
My new friend, Chris, was busy photographing the scene as I engaged some of the Arab contingent in conversation. "They are always doing this to us!" exclaimed one particularly vocal woman, abrogating a somewhat innocuous dialog in which I was engaged. It was a honest and concise statement. One which I felt at my core. These guys weren't a part of Hamas, and I certainly wasn't. And even if they were, this contingent of tramps and lowlifes were on their way out of the country. The only reason that I could see to keep them behind the fence was to make their lives difficult. Though I take issue with many oppressive Arab states, and feel that life in Israel is better for the average person than within any of the surrounding countries, it was clear to me that in this case the Israeli government was bullying those without recourse. The circumstances made for an odd pairing, for on this warm, humid, evening along the Red Sea Israel was aligned with the Palestinians.
Bureaucracy, the Answer for Nonexistent Problems
It's been my observation that people like looking down on others. It's a hollow sort of pride, reinforcing some demented value in one's existence. Generally these ideas are rooted in fear and ignorance. When it comes to government, economic difficulties magnify this irrational hatred in a marketable way. Jews are ruining Germany, they must be stopped! Better dead than RED! If you're not with us, you are against us! The illegals are bringing ebola, nukes, and Islam while simultaneously taking your job as they ride the welfare train. The talking points may differ, but the message is the same. You are not safe, we can save you, TRUST US.
Should you trust them? NO... FUCKING... WAY!
Sure, some places are better than others when it comes to freedom, but ultimately bureaucracy is diametrically opposed to liberty. The fundamental need to feed government growth is the undoing of free will. In an almost cyclical fashion civilizations, societies, nations, or even municipalities become overrun by onerous rules and strict enforcement. The worse the laws, the more brutal the control. Eventually, too many of the plebeians are alienated and it all comes down around the leaders' heads (which are occasionally already rolling around on the ground;). Regardless where you find yourself at the moment, there is a government official nearby working to satisfy interests which contravene your own.
The Austrian Police, Better than Those in the U.S., but still Pains in the Ass
I undertook the tenuous task of replacing the tire which supposedly caused my van's plates to be taken, then turned up at the police station for an inspection and to pay a fine. The guys at the station reprimanded me for moving my tagless van and informed me that the Daisycam was not allowed in the police station. Somehow they ignored the camera I was wearing.
David's Knee or my Head, Which was Harder?
Following a bit more scotch, and chatter, I approached the fence, which had been closed following my initial inquiry of the Israeli border guards (see part 1), whilst simultaneously pulling my passport from my hind pocket. I raised my ID to the sky with my right hand and forcefully shook the gate with my left. "I'm an American citizen!, "This is a 24 hour border crossing!", I exclaimed, "Let me go!!". One of the contingent of Israeli military looked directly at me and gave me a toothy grin. It was not a devious one. Perhaps he just enjoyed the reprieve from, what may have otherwise been, a night of monotony. Regardless of the reason, it was a gaze which I will never forget. I turned and retreated from the fencing into the sea of Gentiles.
I was now of more interest to the massive contingent of Arab plebeians and there was a constant stream of inquires and advice making its way in my direction. A distinct parity existed between the words from the women and those of the men. The fairer sex advised me to be patient. "These things happen frequently, just wait", one of them told me. The men were of a diverging opinion. One of them asked me to approach and talk to the border guards once again. My retort was simply, "I already talked to them, they didn't care what I had to say". The cheeky Palestinian replied, rather loud and forcefully, as he pumped his pointing finger in my direction. "This time you tell them, you tell them Obama is your cousin!". This brought my eyebrows up, and a smile to my face. Laughing heartily I parleyed the notion that I didn't think this would help. Though I was beginning to have ideas.
Another hour or so passed, and I was becoming aquatinted with my captive brethren. "Hello, Muhammad. Nice to meet you. My name is Israel" was repeated more than once. My BAC maintained a steady ascent and I was feeling rather good. I moved from conversation to conversation with a certain ease. I may have looked out of place, however, I felt right at home. Chris was drifting in and out of my periphery, snapping photos and occasionally stopping by to listen in on the chatter. We had entered the third hour of waiting when I approached Chris and said "take plenty of photos". I'm not quite sure how he responded, or if he did, I was focused on the two and a half meter tall gate that separated Us from Them. I took to the chain links with a determined gusto and the Israeli border guards rushed over to try and repel me verbally. Though my hiking pack was fully laden, I quickly crested the barrier, and the military contingent assisted in an even quicker decent on the west side. It was the last time I ever saw Chris.