Nowhere in my wildest dreams had I planned to be arrested in the back of an international police car in Poland during the first hour of April in 2016, but that’s exactly where I was. And honestly, I was not near as scared as I should have been looking back on it.
I was visiting my Polish friend, Adam, who lives in Poznan, Poland. I had been there for three days prior to this moment and was starting to get comfortable with my surroundings. We had been invited to a birthday party of a girl we had met the night before. Not knowing anyone at the party we were about to go to, we planned on relying on alcohol as our form of confidence.
As we sat in Adam’s flat and drank some beers and planned our night, I asked Adam if it was legal to carry an open beer around Poznan public streets. He replied, “Not legal, but hardly illegal.” What he meant by this was that he had never been questioned about it in his entire life.
As fate will have it
Sure enough, that was enough of a jinx to get police’s attention as we walked past their car pulled over on a side street neighborhood. It was midnight. They called us over to their window. They first asked if we spoke Polish. Adam lied. So for the next ten minutes, they struggled to speak English with us. Then they asked for identification. When Adam pulled his Polish I.D., indicating that he had lied about not knowing Polish language, they got angry.
We were just being jackasses. Young and immature, but it made an excellent story.
Then I made the move that ultimately got us “arrested”. I pulled my Malta I.D. card from my wallet. It was a drunken mistake. I knew the I.D. was expired and would expose me for overstaying my European visa. It was my expired residence permit I received for studying in Malta. I thought I just put myself in big time trouble. They put both Adam and me in handcuffs and threw us (literally) into the back of the police van.
For the next hour, they ran background checks on both of us. Once they figured out Adam was Polish, they began speaking their native tongue and I was left out of the conversation. Adam told me later that he thinks they were confused why I would hand them an expired identification, but not too concerned with overstaying my visa.
On to the birthday party with a story to tell
They asked me when I was going home, as in back to the United States, and I lied. I told them I was taking a train to Frankfurt to catch a flight home in the morning. Ultimately, I think that lie ended up saving us from a further delay to the birthday party. They un-cuffed us and let us go with a minor fine (100 zlotych) because I was “heading home tomorrow”.
It was the first time that I had ever been arrested, if even not for more than an hour, and it turned into quite a story at the party we were at not even ten minutes later. It just goes to show you; avoided disasters can always be turned into excellent travel stories!
I would love to hear your craziest travel stories! Feel free to reach out to me via the comment section, email, or social media!