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Off the Record

"I'm a brochure nut. Wherever I go, I grab brochures. Doesn't matter if I'm on a ferry, at a conference or poring over printed puffery at a visitors' center...I can't stop scouring the copy for typos and grammatical errors. Critiquing the graphics and scrutinizing the photography. Shoving the bundle of words into my bag and tossing them into a folder at home.Eventually, I paw through the pile, sorting the wheat from the chaff...the good from the bad. There are always a few keepers. Take the brochure a colleague of mine picked up while vacationing in Amsterdam earlier this month. It was his only copy and so unusual that I made a photocopy of it for my own use.After all, how often does a city's police department produce a brochure for visitors, one that gives all the rules and regulations of the town? I've never seen such a piece, and think it's a dandy idea. Here are the highlights of the Amsterdam Police brochure (keep in mind this European city is slightly more liberal than most American towns). Maybe it will spur other law enforcement agencies to spread the word.Langley Police Department, it's your turn!*Red Light District: The police of the RED LIGHT DISTRICT welcomes you. Amsterdam is a beautiful and free city. But not everything is allowed, there are rules. This leaflet is meant to make your visit a safe and happy one, it also explains some of the tourist traps, but most of all it's meant to keep the peace in this small village inside Amsterdam. Have fun, while reading it and enjoy OUR AMSTERDAM.*Normal Behaviour: Too much alcohol often causes irresponsible and childish behaviour. Undressing in public, jumping in canals, etc. Please don't make a fool of yourself. People who live here do not appreciate any of this. Have fun, but show some respect.*Screaming and Shouting: Especially in the evenings and during the nights it causes great disturbance to the people who live here and who are sleeping and have to get up early. Sing along in pubs, have fun, but be quiet on the streets. Remember the FINE that can await you. (Fine of $25).*Urinating in Public: Dirty habit, always committed by MEN. Don't ruin our houses or monuments. You can either go in one of the bars and tip the bartender, for using his toilet or use one of the public toilets. You also can go to a police station. (Fine of $15).*Alcohol Use on the Streets: Drink your beers inside the bars or on the terraces. When you are too drunk on the streets it can get you in trouble in two ways: Either you can get arrested by us or worse, you will be an easy victim for the pickpockets or the robbers. (Fine of $15).*Prostitution: If you visit one of the women, we would like to remind you, they are not always women. Don't take pictures of the women, it might get you in trouble. Outside on the streets, don't shout or use bad language towards these women. SHOW SOME RESPECT. In case you have any problem with a girl or a pimp, don't hesitate to ask a policeman/woman, we know why you're here and you can hardly surprise us anymore.*Hard Drugs: Cocaine, heroin, LSD, ecstas, etc. are strictly forbidden. Buying drugs on the streets is one of the biggest tourist traps in Amsterdam. From the moment you arrive in Amsterdam, people will offer you drugs. These drugs are always FAKE (washing powder, sugar, rat poison, vitamine C tablets). On top of that you also may encounter violence. You may be forced to hand over your wallet, as soon as you want to pay for the FAKE drugs. DON'T DO IT.*Soft Drugs: You can visit a coffeeshop to buy a small amount of soft drugs for your OWN personal use. If you are under 18 years old, you are not allowed to enter a coffeeshop or buy anything. When you feel sick after smoking or eating space cake, drink lots of water with sugar, something sweet will put you right again. Don't use soft drugs in regular bars and other places, not everybody likes the smell of a joint. Be careful mixing alcohol and soft drugs, or any other drugs. *Police Information: Hopefully you will have a pleasant and safe stay in Amsterdam. If something happens to you, don't hesitate to ask a policeman/woman on the streets, we are here to serve you. Ten out of 10 speak English, and we are used to weird things. Note: This leaflet is not a promotion of any of the things mentioned above.Parting Words: Pleasure. Safety. Peace.Sue Frause can be reached online at skfrause@whidbey.com"

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