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La mordida – The bribe

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Once upon a time I bribed a Tijuana policeman.

I’m neither proud nor ashamed of the mordida (bribe). But that was just one of the run-ins I’ve had with Mexican police over the years.

There was another time that I saw police lights start flashing as soon as I pulled out of my office in Tijuana.

I pulled over.

El policía me dijo. The policeman said to me, “Your trunk is open.”

I closed it and said gracias, expecting that would be the end of the matter.

“El policía me dijo “es un delito.” The policeman said to me, “It’s a criminal offense.”

He started checking out my car very deliberately. It was clear he and his partner were after a bribe.

Then he started insulting my wife.

Now I was angry!

“We’ll have to go to the police station,” he said.

That was supposed to intimidate me, but I said,

Está bien. Respeto la ley. Vamos a la estación de policía. “It’s OK. I respect the law. Let’s go to the police station.”

I said it with authority and it shocked him.

Maybe he thought I knew someone because immediately he became polite.

I had neither authority nor contacts. I just didn’t like my family being pushed around and would rather have taken my chances at the station and kept my wife out of it.

When you are in a country without the language, you can feel very small at times.

It was good to have the language skills and the confidence to express myself as a man of honor and integrity.

You really can stand taller when you gain control of the local language.

If you live in a Spanish-speaking country or plan to visit one anytime soon, you really owe it to yourself to get up to speed with the language.


Marcus Santamaria Spanish Communication Coach
Synergy Spanish

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