Surly, Drug-Toting Hitchhiker Mistakes a Police Car for a Taxi, Gets Arrested

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Oct. 24 2013 3:21 PM

Surly, Drug-Toting Hitchhiker Mistakes a Police Car for a Taxi, Gets Arrested

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Name: Unnamed New Zealand hitchhiker

Alleged crimes: Drug possession, unpaid fines.

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Fatal mistake: Unnecessarily provoking the police.

The circumstances: The Book of Proverbs is filled with wise sayings, and one of my favorites is this old chestnut: Never give a cop the finger when you’re holding marijuana and wanted on several thousand dollars’ worth of unpaid fines. If a New Zealand hitchhiker had only remembered this bit of ancient advice, he would be a free man today.

The Press of New Zealand reports that this poor, unnamed dope was walking down the street last week in the small town of Rangiora when he inexplicably tried to flag down a passing police car as if it were a taxi. (Taxi, police car, same difference: Both have lights on top, partitions dividing the front and back seats, and dispatchers who tell the drivers where to go.) Then, when the car passed him by, he allegedly compounded his error by running into the road and waving his middle finger at the cops as they drove away.

This got their attention, and when the cops returned, they couldn’t help noticing that the surly hitchhiker allegedly smelled like marijuana; that he was carrying weed; and that he also had $2,800 worth of unpaid fines. He got a ride, all right—a ride to jail. (I’m guessing the cops made some version of this pun as hauled this guy back to the station.) “The moral of the story is that if you haven't paid your fines and you're walking around carrying drugs don't hail a police car like a taxi ... and don't give them the fingers,” a cop told the newspaper. That’s another proverb worth remembering.

How he could have been a lot smarter: Taken the bus.

How he could have been a little smarter: If you must give a cop the finger, make sure that it’s a giant foam finger with “Police Are the Best” written on the palm.

How he could have been a little dumber: He could have literally given the cops his finger by chopping it off and hurling it at their rapidly vanishing car.

How he could have been a lot dumber: “Phew, glad you guys stopped! I was getting really sick of carrying this big, heavy bag of illegal drugs!”

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): I have nothing against hitchhikers, but I have everything against dumb hitchhikers. And this particular hitchhiker was really, really dumb. 8 out of 10 for him.

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Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.