Geez - it's always something ...
DH and I are living in Amsterdam this year (he's a visiting professor on a research sabbatical at a medical center here). We've been here about 10 months.
So yesterday I'm walking through the train/metro station nearest our apartment. There are a horde of police officers stopping random people and performing searches, not sure why. I was one of the lucky winners of the opportunity to be searched. (They obviously can't be accused of any kind of "profiling" here. I'm a pretty boring 50-something woman. I mean "boring" in a glamourous and exciting way, of course.)
Anyway they ask me if they can pat me down and search my purse. I say yes quite cooperatively - I had nothing to hide. I thought. (Not sure what would have happened if I said no.) I was a little surprised that they could just do that on a random basis with no "probable cause" ... but when in Rome and all that.
Besides I have never been patted down by handsome young Dutch men before and at my age and marital status am not all that likely to have the experience under other circumstances so ... uh, never mind.
They ask me if I have any "weapons". I say no. Then they ask me if I have any knives. I say, well I have a Swiss Army knife in my purse. They inform me that certain areas of Amsterdam are "special zones" and in those zones it is considered a "weapon". BTW, the designation of those zones evidently moves around depending on circumstances and my local train station had just become one of those zones. Who knew?
So they confiscate the knife! I (politely) point out that if I tried to kill somebody with the 1.5 inch blade on that Swiss Army knife, I would have to ask them to hold still while I did it. They laughed appreciatively and even started making jokes about it themselves. Since I had just bought it here in Amsterdam (I had lost my previous one) and it cost 30 Euro or so, I ask, is there any way I can apply to get it back? They said no. I said, so it's legal to buy it, but not legal to take it home? I mean how am I supposed to get it from the store to my house if carrying it is illegal, when I have the misfortune to live in a newly-designated "special zone"? They have no answer for that.
So after 10 months of dodging pickpockets in the train stations, the only people who actually "steal" something from me are the police!
I thought maybe this all caught me by surprise just because I'm an ignorant foreigner. But I went to a social gathering last night at the medical center and told the story to everybody there. None of the Dutch people there had ever heard of such a thing. They couldn't even believe it. I had to repeat the story 20 times and they kept saying, "That can't be right!" Well I agree with that part anyway. ;->
So what I want to know is, will I now be on a watch list as a "weapons" runner?
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Geez - it's always something ...