I imagine I have gotten your attention with that title and image ! Probably not what you expected from me! Well, let me start at the beginning. . . . .
Several weeks ago, I was clocked on radar doing seventeen miles above the speed limit on a road I travel almost daily and often several times. I had a perfect driving record for the many years living in Troy! I hadn’t even had a parking ticket. That is how my family gave me the above title, because I don’t drive like an old lady, yet, but neither am I am speedy driver. I usually just go with the flow ! Except this time!
Thus began this journey resulting in a court appearance this week. My immediate thought was that my insurance would rise and I would have the dreaded points added on my license. Telling my tale to whom would listen, I learned some interesting facts. I should not sign and return the ticket saying that I was guilty and pay for the ticket. But I was guilty. . . well it turns out pleading not guilty doesn’t mean that . . . . lawyer speak , but not guilty means you want the process to be seen by a judge or letting the process proceed. If you plead guilty, you will get a fine, points, and your insurance company will be notified resulting in a rate increase.
My day to appear, I got to the court 20 minutes early to find already a serpentine line of about 100 people, I am estimating. We waited and waited. Finally 45 minutes after the scheduled time , each person was called to sign-in. Next we went to the courtroom where the jovial judge gave us our four options. I wish I could remember what they were but I was waiting for the last one, #4 where I would be given a chance to plea down from a moving violation to a lesser charge of non-moving violation. That plead down group was taken to another room where we were we met with an attorney to plead our case for lowering the charges. ( Mine was a flawless record.)
My first question was whether there was an accident involved. “No.” Any other charges such as phone involvement or alcohol, “No.” I was eligible for a non-moving charge, but the fine would be nearly $200, ouch. . . but that was the best I could expect. All the offenders with the high speed tickets were expected to appear before the judge to see if he agreed with the results of the conference. Nervously, I reentered the court with about half of the original group. I had noticed others leaving after speaking to the District Attorney , they just went to pay their fine and left. There speed must have been less.
Each defendant had to stand and address the judge. To say I was nervous was definitely an understatement . but he turned out to be rather low-key and friendly.
“Mrs. Bell, you will pay the fine and there will be no points or notification of this transaction with your insurance company. If you need time to pay the fine, that will be arranged. Do you accept this judgement?”
“Thank you , your Honor.”
I was trying to quickly exit the courtroom when someone grabbed my hand. I looked up at this large bear of a man whom I didn’t recognize. He told me I had not seen him since grammar school, 4th grade to be specific and, he had grown mostly up rather dramatically since then. He, too, had one of the large fines and must speak to the judge. I gave him a hug and said, thank you ever so much for speaking to me! Gosh, did you recognize me? He laughed but didn’t say. I wished him luck and left.
As I was walking home, I remember with great fondness this student who had been one of my all time favorites. Yes, teachers can’t show it but we are human, we do have favorites. At least I did. I was so happy to reconnect if only in passing. Come to think about it, he probably heard my name called and didn’t recognize me but he did make the effort to speak to me! That was a special moment in a long day at court the resulting in paying for a darn expensive “parking ticket!”