Yesterday I was having a lovely afternoon just walking and chatting with my good friend Gvantsa. We discovered some fun back streets, a destroyed church, a two-eyed cat, and even the French Embassy! Just as we were about to hike up some mysterious and exciting-looking steps, my phone buzzed with an incoming call.
Glancing down, I saw the name “Alecko Cop” flash on my Nokia’s screen.
Alecko is our local, and I like to think “personal,” cop. I first met him a year and a half ago after Angela and I had first moved in. He stopped by to register us on the most suspicious and sketchy day my apartment has ever seen. That day, after we had spent several hours desperately trying, and failing, to clean up the apparent murder-scene in our kitchen, a knock came at the door. It was the cops.
Alecko came in and introduced himself as our friendly neighborhood policeman. He was there to register me and Angela as residents and so he needed to get our contact info, etc. Oddly enough, Lauren, Maki, and Kelly were visiting the apartment, causing some confusion as Alecko tried to make sense of who lived where. Maki confused matters a bit more by grinning and announcing “Tskhra!” (Nine!) while Alecko was trying to write.
Meanwhile, I tried to keep his back turned to the kitchen where the wine stains still looked suspiciously murderous.
Fast forward to Late January/Early February this year when Alecko and his partner came by again to reregister me and Hilary. Friendly guy, this Alecko. He was even joking around with us and asking for English lessons. He offered to help us out whenever we needed anything, but he demurred at Hilary’s request to shoot our psychotic neighbor. “If she touches you, call me. Otherwise…” (Yes, Angela, the psychopath is still a psychopath.)
So, I picked up my phone to see what Alecko wanted. My guess was that we had to reregister once more now that we had a better idea of how long we’d be living in our apartment. Boy was I wrong! And boy did my wrongness spark another adventure!
“Hi Raughley,” Alecko greeted me in Georgian. “What’s your roommate’s name?”
“Uh, Hilary. Why?”
“She lost her wallet. Where are you? When will you be home? Actually, can I call you in two minutes?” A minute later he called again and I passed the phone off to Gvantsa whose Georgian is a tiny bit better than mine.
Gvantsa listened and mouthed “We should go to your house.” We curtailed our hike and turned back, arriving home after a few minutes. Inside, three cops sprawled across the couch and arm chairs while Hilary sat laughing in the middle of the room.
With Gvantsa acting as official interpreter (A role that made her exceedingly nervous), we were able to repeat Hilary’s tale of woe for the third time as Alecko took notes. His lanky partner sat forward on the couch listening and watching while a third cop who I hadn’t met before reclined comfortably in my favorite arm chair.
After some time, they said, “Okay, let’s go. We have to go to the Police Station.”
“What?” Hilary asked sternly. “I don’t want to, I just wanted to leave a lost-and-found note asking if anyone has found my wallet.” At this point it was too late. The police were insisting that we accompany them to fill out the reports.
Gvantsa turned to me, amused but a bit concerned. “Raughley, you have to come with us! I’m your friend and you’re Hilary’s roommate! You’re like the connection here and we don’t want to go without you!” So I agreed.
We left the apartment and began walking to the cops’ white, unmarked 4-door sedan. Now, remember, there are three of us and three cops. This was a problem.
“No problem!” chirped Alecko and the other senior cop. “Just four of us will squish in the back!” By “four of us,” of course, they meant “You four.” Gvantsa, Hilary, and I got in and crammed ourselves against one door, leaving a bit of space for lanky Vakho.
“Where am I going to go?” he asked his partners. “Modi aq!” I cried, patting the seat next to me (By “next to me” I basically mean “Where I was already sitting”). Vakho climbed in and we began our trek to the Police Station.
But not before we returned to investigate the scene of the crime itself! This most welcome detour (welcome because it meant we had an extra fifteen minutes of getting-to-know-you time in the back seat) brought us to the massage center in Vake where Hilary had realized her wallet was missing.
After noting the address, we were off to the Vake District Police Station, outside of Alecko’s jurisdiction. With much laughter and conviviality, Vakho, Hilary, Gvantsa and I enjoyed the heck out of our roadtrip, as uncomfortable as we were. When we arrived at the station, the doors opened and we spilled out into the parking lot. As he got out Vakho kept his hand on his gun, making sure it didn’t get caught on anything and inadvertently reassuring me that it was indeed a Gun in his Pocket.
I said to Vakho, “I think we should all go back after this and get massages!” He laughed and pointed to his side where my hip had been jabbing him for the past twenty minutes, “I need a massage here!”
As we walked up the steps, Alecko and the other cop instructed my new buddy, “Vakho! Wait with the car.” Poor guy!
We strolled into the Station and proceeded to wait around for information. The Vake cops let our Freedom Square cops head home after promising to take care of us when we were finished. While we waited to make another official statement Gvantsa translated the “Wanted” posters on the wall.
Georgia’s a ridiculously safe place. I never feel threatened or uneasy about my own personal safety when I’m walking around, regardless of the location or time of day. Perhaps this was reflected in the fact that there were only 8 Wanted posters on the wall and that 2 of them were for “Shoplifting” and “Failure to Report a Crime.” If 1/8 of Georgia’s most wanted is for “Failure to Report a Crime,” then you know you’re pretty good. When I asked, “What happens if a 9th person commits a crime?” Hilary suggested, “They’ll probably just replace Mr. Failed-to-Report!”
We made our statement, with Gvantsa nervously translating and putting her signature to the document. Hilary did likewise, with several linguistic flourishes, and we were back off into the night, riding along in the rear of another unmarked police car.
“Whose taxi is this?” the Deputy Police Chief behind the wheel asked a gaggle of taxi drivers, pointing at an idling taxi that was blocking the Station’s drive way. A man stepped forward and our driver told him, “Well freakin’ move it!”
Home again, safe, sound, and exhausted from laughing all evening, we looked around and felt exceedingly pleased with the random adventure we’d just had. Here’s to you, Georgian Cops! გაუმარჯოს!