A Sniveling Success
I’ve gotten tickets before, all of them more or less deserved—except one. As I slowly crossed a four lane intersection, some pedestrians stepped out from behind a car, ambled into the crosswalk part way through it just as I was passing in the far lane. I was well aware of motorcycle cop sitting right there so I would never knowingly have broken the law but they entered the crosswalk just as I did. The pedestrians and I exchanged smiles and nods but, before I had traveled the block, the officer pulled me over.
Something had his panties in a bunch. A vastly pregnant woman was hardly a threat but he approached my car angry and uptight. He even unsnapped the holster to his gun just before reaching my window. I fought back tears as I tried to explain and even urged him to talk to the two men before they got too far—to no avail. I left with a ticket.
Friends urged me to fight it, reassuring me that most challenged tickets were dropped or at least commuted. I filled out the paperwork .
The wheels of justice grind slowly and I had a two month old by the time the appointed day arrived. I left my older son home with his dad but because I was nursing, I took my newest son with me. I dressed carefully in a dress that I could nurse discreetly in and packed plenty of cloth diapers.
That morning the courtroom was packed. There must have been 50 people. When the judge arrived, he announced with a grin that he wasn’t usually a traffic judge, he normally did criminal cases but he was filling in. He seemed so nice I breathed a sigh of relief.
But as the day crept on with case after case determined against the person fighting their ticket, I knew I was in trouble. No matter how innocent the person seemed, not even one case was reduced and, too my horror, two cases actually ended up with stiffer fines then they would have if they hadn’t fought.
My officer still hadn’t showed up so I was left nursing my poor little guy into overstuffed silence. Many times during the day I knelt between the seats and changed diapers. My bag bulged with plastic wrapped wet diapers and there was even one ugly bag oozing brown goo by mid afternoon.. As the day drug towards 4:30, I began to hope my officer wouldn’t show up. Surely I couldn’t be held to a ticket, if he wasn’t there. But my hopes were dashed as in another case the uniform didn’t show and the judge still ruled against the poor guy and offered to fine him when he tried to protest.
Finally, when the empty courtroom contained just me and one other fellow, my officer arrived. I was summoned to the bench. Carefully placing my little guy in the cute little woven basket I had brought with me, I tremblingly approached. By now, I knew I was doomed and was fighting back tears. I tried to remain professional but the sight of the angry man who had been so unreasoning months before did me in. I burst into tears and barely was able to answer any questions. I managed to gasp out wetly (the clerk actually had to bring me a box of tissues somewhere in here) that “I would never enter a crosswalk where there were pedestrians. I tried to get the officer to go talk to the two guys but he wou.. woul…would…wouldn’t” before I broke down completely and laid my head on the table. The officer attempted to ask me some questions but I was shaking and crying so badly, he just related his story while patting me awkwardly on the arm.
In the end, the judge shook his head and said, “I think we can safely say that this lady is not a hardened criminal. Honey, I’ll reduce your ticket to a misdemeanor. You’ll only have to pay a little fine and it won’t change your insurance. That’s okay with you isn’t it, officer?”
The red faced grouchy man that had so intimidated me, patted me kindly on the hand and said, “I think that will be fine.”
As I gathered my baby in a basket and headed out of the room ashamed and still crying, the only person left, a massive truck driver in red suspenders and logging boots clinched the humiliation by calling out nastily, “If I cry, can I get my ticket reduced too?”
A tip of the hat to Jen whose post reminded me why I wish I didn’t cry so easily.