Sunday, July 3, 2011

pushy policeman

Ha! spoke too soon on the police-visit front. We had the polizia (different from the carabinieri) in on Friday at 1.30am when the dj was still playing (inside). Our waiters had been checking all night outside and were sure the music could not be heard past the wall five metres in front of the locale, where all the punters sit with their drinks. Plus, the live music OUTSIDE the bars just down and just up the road would have drowned it out. But the polizia probably couldn't be bothered to make their way up the steep hill to the next bar, so they stopped at ours. As usual. This hugely overweight policeman and his sidekick were in plainclothes, so we didn't have the chance to spot them and stop the dj. They asked had all our staff got contracts, did we have permission to play music in the bar and various other questions along those lines. We do have all our papers in order, even though this lazy poliziotto didn't even bother to check. He was just interested in finding a way to give us a fine. Fines must be evidence to their superiors that they are doing their duty. As he was filling out his form he asked what the name of the restaurant was. He didn't even know! That proves, though, that the police had not been called to go to us on a complaint from neighbours about the noise levels. The phonecall is what generally sends up the carabinieri. Mio marito protested that everything was in order and the speakers were turned inwards so as not to project the music outside, so there was no way it was causing 'nocturnal disturbance', as the plump policeman was alleging. But the policeman had latched on to the fact that our music permit is only for live music up to midnight - which is prolonged to 1.00am in summertime, though the policeman wasn't aware of this. He told mio marito he would have to present himself on Wednesday morning at the police station, for 'una fesseria' - a token fine, just to prove the policeman had been out doing his rounds. Mio marito didn't know at the time that the live music continued until 2.00am at the bar just up the road, or he might have protested. Last year we wouldn't have wanted to get other bars in trouble, but the bar up the road seems to be immune to police visits. Partly becasue of the owner's connections, but also because it is up a steep incline packed with revellers, and not so enticing for police to have to have to push their way through. Much more convenient to give us a fine and be done with the beat.
Can the police themselves not be reported for not doing their duty properly here? Instead of stopping the live music outside which does annoy the residents, they stop at the first bar (with most people outside) and waste our time and money when our music doesn't annoy anyone, and we make a point of not having live music outside, not even on the beautiful terraces at the back. The plump policeman even made a joke on his way out that since there were so many people outside the bar, we should have to pay for the use of public space. Mio marito smartly retorted that not all the people outside had got their drink at our bar. The policeman just trying to push his power around. It's as if they want to punish us for the fact that the bar is now doing well - due to very hard work on our part. As if my husband has nothing better to do on Wednesday morning. As if there aren't loads of drug dealers, mafioso wheeler dealers and thugs around on a Saturday night whom the police would be better-off investigating. Too much effort. Especially in this heat, and with so much pasta in your belly.