Friday, January 11, 2008

Ah, Irony - So We Meet Again (epic)

A couple of months ago I received a speeding ticket. For those of you that know me now, you must be pretty shocked. I was too. I have changed quite a bit since my youth. I am a lover of rules. I obey the law. And I am the one being pulled over by a state trooper and accused of doing 79 mph in a 65 mph zone. I literally questioned the status of the man's equipment. "Can we be certain that your equipment is working properly? Because you see, I had my cruise control engaged at 65 - so either there is something wrong with your equipment, or there is something wrong with my equipment." We don't even need to discuss what his opinion was on the subject. So, I took my equipment to its manufacturer and asked them to inspect it for proper functioning. Hm. Working within specs. As I am trying to gather information, everyone I speak to is of the attitude that the best thing that I can do is approach the District Attorney and ask if he/she would be willing to reduce the charges in order to keep it off my record and because it's just a speeding ticket - it's not worth what you would have to do to defend and you are most likely going to lose anyway because he is a Master Trooper and his equipment is basically infallible. So, the attitude of most people is, "It's just a speeding ticket." And because of that attitude, I have come to the conclusion that it is harder to defend yourself against a traffic ticket than against a capital crime.(Just this side of impossible in fact. Unless you are willing to pour thousands of dollars into it and cause others to lose time at work as well - and even then it doesn't look good) What???? Yes, I said it. Pay attention to the irony. Because it is 'just a traffic ticket' those involved in the process don't find it worth the time, money and effort it would involve to try it. So - that's it. You're guilty. OR, you can plead guilty to a lesser crime and pay less money. Okay. As a lover of rules, I cannot say that I did something that I did not do. So, this morning, tormented by my crutches and the farness of EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD, I went to defend myself against my speeding ticket. I had with me my side of the story, a copy of the repair order stating that my vehicle was checked by a factory certified mechanic and found to be working within factory specs, a copy of my spotless driving record, and of course my crutches. The ADA called my name and offered to take me to another room to confer with me. By take me, I do not in any way mean that he was going to sweep me up like Rhett Butler, carry me to this mysterious other room and offer to sweep this whole business under the rug. No, I mean he wanted me to "walk with him" as he put it - outside of the courtroom and into another area so we could discuss the matter without disturbing the current proceedings. Yay. So he makes me lean there on my crutches as he explains to me what I am charged with and what he is willing to do and has authority to do about the matter. "At this stage I do not have the authority to dismiss the case." (AKA - you have pushed us this far and now you must pay) "I can however talk to the trooper about reducing the charge to 70 in a 65 and wave the fine so you would only have to pay the court costs (you'll laugh about this later) If you are willing to plead guilty to that." He further explained to me that the 'evidence' I have brought with me is all hearsay and inadmissable in court, but that he is 'all for' giving those who want it their day in court. Okay. Sir. I do not want my day in court, or anyone else's day in court, I don't want to be here at all. However, I cannot stand in front of a judge and say that I did something that I did not do. That is lying. Purgery. A crime.(Yes I know I'm being dramatic). "Well perhaps you could plead 'no contest'". "What does that mean?" "Well basically, it will be treated the same as a guilty plea or guilty verdict, but you will not be actually admitting guilt. And then you will be responsible for the court costs, but I will waive the fine for the ticket." So, I ask him this question and that question about the effect that will have on my record, pocket book, insurance, reputation, etc etc. So he says, "Let me go talk to the trooper and see if he'll agree." "Okay. May I please go sit down now?" "Haha - yes." Have they STRETCHED the courthouse since I've been leaning for the last ten minutes?! WHERE did they move the mo crackin' courtroom to?? So I get seated and listen in on a trial for a man who is pleading guilty to a second offense of dwi. And I am so saddened by the whole situation and prompted to pray on the spot for this man by name. (This happened the day I went for my arraignment too, I was able to pray for so many people I never would have otherwise come in contact with as I was the VERY LAST person to be arraigned.) So, the ADA comes back to me and grins and says, "Walk with me" teehee. Oh yes, cute. We go back to the room of negotiation and he says, "The trooper says it would be fine with him; that you hadn't given him any trouble and he was agreeable," etc etc. *At this point I can hear my Mother exclaiming while rolling her eyes, "Oh NO! Here comes another one of Judi's lectures!"* And here is the 'lecture'. I explained to the ADA very politely that from the moment I received the ticket, there was basically no help for me, etc etc, blah blah blah - make up your own rant here - I'm too tired to type the whole conversation. Anyway, I agreed to plead 'no contest' to a charge of 70 in a 65 and in my mind there WAS no contest - can't be a contest if it's not a fair fight. Whatever. :{ I think I'm getting crankier. So I listen to a couple more cases and pray for the people and the ADA calls my case before the judge. He explains the terms of our agreement to the judge and the judge is clearly irritated by this waste of everyone's time. "Are you in agreement with this?" "Yes sir." "Do you understand that you will be treated as though you were guilty?" "Yes sir." AND I JUMPED UP AND DOWN AND SCREAMED, "I'M JUST AS DISGUSTED BY THIS AS YOU ARE JUDGE BUT WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE ME DO? OFFER A BRIBE? PFT." Okay, really, that only happened in my head. And I also imagined using my crutches as missiles - I want to get rid of them anyway. So he asks, "You understand that you have to pay the court costs?" "Yes I do." "So that's $128 or 15 days in jail." WHOA! THERE WENT A MISSILE! RIGHT OUT OF MY HAND. Okay not really. BUT SERIOUSLY, "IF THIS IS 'JUST A TRAFFIC TICKET' WHY ARE YOU WILLING TO PUT ME IN JAIL OVER IT FOR 15 DAYS???" Fine, I didn't say that either. "Can you pay that now?" There was a slight, and thankfully undetectable chuckle from me as I said, "Yes sir I can." Why did I chuckle? Well, the thought directly before I opened my mouth was, "Oh. I can go to jail for 15 days and not have to pay the court costs? They don't let children in jail." So, the Judge accepts my plea - albeit annoyed - and directs me to go sit and wait in another area of the courtroom. Yay. So I start heading over there, spectacle that I am and the Sheriff lets me navigate steps into this gallery seating and almost lets me meet the axis of gravity to get my booty into a seat when he asks, "Are you ready to go over and take care of that now?" *alarm, alarm, alarm...* He said, are you ready to 'GO OVER'....GO OVER WHERE?????? Eh, hem - to pay your fees, fines, whatever - you have to go down 3 floors, out of the courthouse, ACROSS THE STREET, UP SOME STEPS, around and about into the JAIL and then go up 3 floors to the 'pay or stay' area. I responded, well yes, I would love to do that. Would it be possible first, because I just love the exercise I am getting, if I could travel BACK ACROSS THE COURTROOM TO MY ORIGINAL SEAT and collect my belongings that I had to leave there whilst being tried? Well, yes. do that. ME = 'oh thank you so much you handsome, tall, strong, strapping group of very helpful State Troopers who pity me enough to hold open the swingy partition things while I hobble through, but care not enough to not give me a stinking ticket.' Okay, so me and my new friends, the Sheriff and the DWI guy who has to pay or stay go off to jail together. Have I mentioned that the jailhouse was in MARYLAND(aka across the street)? Why are these crutches so heavy? What are they made out of? The lost city of gold?? And why can't I breathe? And why do my arms burn so bad? All right, I kid you is my thought as the three musketeers are traversing our way through the biggest mountains I have ever seen in my life (aka - curbs and stairs) "If I stay at the jailhouse and just serve the 15 days, I won't have to crutch the continent back to my car that is parked in Antarctica." I'm going to skip the 'you, although being escorted by an armed professional who does this every day, came to the wrong area of the jail' incidents and the 'Betty, this ticket must be in the old system, do we want to put it in the new system while this exhausted and wronged woman leans here on her crutches because she is so lame that she fell?' and get to the part about how I made it back to my car without crying, or falling - although I did stop. A lot. On the way home, I was thinking about how I would blog and the whole situation of what went down and did I sell out or not, etc etc and I was talking to God about it and wondering, "Did You allow all this just so that I would go and pray for those people? Seems quite a bit of suffering on my part." God said, "Would you have gone if I had just asked?" pft. I am exhausted and my whole body hurts and I am weary. I am going to pray,then lay, and hopefully dream my cares away and rest in the promise from Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."


Shauna said...

My goodness, that was quite the day. I hope you got your nap and had pleasant dreams.

I have a cousin who once questioned a cops ... radar gun. (Is that what it's called?) It didn't go over so well. ;-)

Sing4joy said...

Oh wow. My post sounds awfully cranky. It doesn't come across there, but I really do find irony amusing. And the most ironic part about the whole ticket situation is that if I weren't me, based on the evidence the trooper had to present, I would assume I was guilty too. A little more napping is in order I think. My arms really hurt.

mel said...

GREAT to chat with you tonight. Isn't it amazing what we have to go through in order to get a really good blog??

His Girl said...

really good blog, indeed!

yes, my friend... this was a nasty, stupid yukky trial. i am sorry that you have had to pay dollars to make something go away that you for surely did not do. i am sorry that it is so unfair and there is not one thing you can do about it.

however, i am glad that you didn't have to also pay the fine, i am glad your insurance will not be impacted, and i am glad you did not go to jail...

most of all, i am glad i know about this blog, you know why?

you spin a mighty good yarn, my friend- made me mad (on your behalf) made me tired (on your behalf) and cranky (again, on your behalf... but mostly proud... proud of you for praying for others when most of us would have spent this time praying for ourselves.

you're a cool chikkie- now, go look at my shoes again. i'm too tired to blog right now.

Jenster said...

I'm so sorry! Though I have to admit, this post had me cracking up. NOT AT YOU, THOUGH! Just at the way you conveyed the whole scenario - very sitcom, if you ask me. HEY! Maybe you could be a sitcom writer!!

The entire situation is ridiculous.

Sing4joy said...

Ah jenster,
I have forgiven you for taking the number one comment spot and then later thumbing your nose at me! You can laugh it me. It really did make for a good story.