Today was the Reluctant Farmer's birthday! And, what did we do on this fine day might you ask?! Well, the Reluctant Farmer had to take me to court. Yes, that is right. Court...
I got a speeding ticket two Fridays ago and because it was in a school zone I was required by state law to appear in court. I was determined to fight my ticket because I swear the school zone light was not flashing when I got pulled over, thus I was actually traveling 2 mph under the speed limit. I got up bright and early for my 8 am appointment, dressed in my best business suit, and set off to plead my case. The Reluctant Farmer was a useless support system, as the poor girl was more nervous than I was! She dropped me off outside the court house, and promised to wait outside for me. This is where is gets exciting!
I go into the court house and follow the signs up to the 3rd floor. When I get off the elevator, I realize right away my worries about being under dressed should not have EVER been worries. I stepped off the elevator to the tune of Deliverance in my head, and felt much like Dorothy had to feel when she realized she wasn't in Kansas anymore. There were 100 people in that lobby, literally. As I stood there next to people that looked like they were straight off the "People of Walmart" website, I was amused.
There were people there with halter tops on, that should have performed a public service and covered more of their body. There were parents there with children that kept repeating things like: "I hate when we have to go to court! It is so boring...." (My sentiments too, little buddy....) There were people that didn't pay their child support, had been caught driving with no license, were not in our country legally, and some people that the bailiff knew by first name. This was like a foreign world to me, and not a place I ever wanted to visit again!
Then the bailiff came out and exclaimed to us: "Everyone here this morning will have to go through the metal detector. Please rid yourselves of any and all potential weapons, including pockets knives, needles, and change!" (Well, I thought he said change....) He looks at me and says: "You first ma'am!" And I quickly unloaded my purse of $1.52 in change, threw it in the bucket and handed him my purse. Perplexed the man looks at me and says: "Ma'am, I said rid yourself of chains, not change." I quickly realize the errors of my ways, explain that I have never done this before, apologize and dump my money back into my purse. I think that this will be the worst of it. Wrong!
After all 100 of us make it through the metal detector and into the courtroom, the bailiff comes back in and says: "Okay folks, this is how this is going to go. If I call your name you are here for a serious offense and you are subject to 6 months in jail and up to a $1000.00 fine. You might also want to have your lawyer present with you today." In my head I think, thank God I am not one of those people! And, until he got to my name, things were going okay. He loudly yells: "Emily Browning?!" And I state: "Here!" And then I promptly want to pee down my leg or vomit, I am not sure which.... He dismisses all of us "serious offenders" to outside the courtroom where we are all standing in a herd, like cattle going off to slaughter, and I happen to notice a nicely dressed woman next to me that is pale white. I said, "Excuse me, did he just say we were serious offenders?" She replied, "Yes, and I was just here for a speeding ticket!" We compared notes, and determine that certainly there has been some sort of mix up, and we wait for our names to be called by the public defender guy. (Remember, I did not pack a lawyer, because I was only going for a speeding violation, and did not think I needed to retain council for such event!) Finally, after he goes through 95% of the people in the lobby he calls my name. I go up and explain that I was there for a speeding ticket and that I was going 33 mph, but because the school zone light was not flashing I did not know I was in a school zone therefore I was not guilty. The gentleman tells me to plead not guilty, and to come back in several weeks for a trial or to plead no contest, explain myself, ask if anything can be reduced and settle it today. I decide that I would do the latter, in hopes that the judge would be kind to me and I could settle it before I left. (I did NOT want to come back!)
We were ushered back into the courtroom, and as I sat there I hear every excuse under the sun as to why people were there. (I tell you, this was the most interesting part of the entire event!) Finally it was my turn. I explain that I didn't think I was in a school zone, but yet I wanted to plead no contest because I did not want to come back and even though I had never had a speeding ticket in my life, I just wanted to finish it today. The judge took my no contest plea, lessened my court costs, and just had me pay a minor speeding violation. He then asked me if there was anything else I would like to say, and this is what comes falling out of me mouth: "Sir, I just want to say thank you for being so understanding today, and I am sure you can see by my otherwise flawless record that I am not used to being here under these circumstances, and after seeing the clientele that is here in this courtroom, I am hoping that you never have to see me again! Have a nice day." (Or something completely stupid like this...) I can feel the guy behind me, with the tear drop tattoo, staring a hole through the back of my head, but not to worry I have my change to protect me as I skip out of the courtroom as a free woman!
I am not sure what the Reluctant Farmer and I will do next year for her birthday, but I sure hope it doesn't involve judges and me!