A month ago I had an unpleasant run-in with a CityLink bus. Thanks to a misunderstanding concerning the ticket, I showed up in court a day away from being a wanted criminal.
Going to court seemed like a fun activity for someone minoring in political science and finds the judicial process appealing on a general level; so naturally I invited a friend. I later realized what a mistake that was, and how different a local court is from Law & Order.
Jozie and I started at the wrong courthouse – hoping I would be near the sentencing of the road rage murder case. My courtroom was on the other side of the railroad tracks, across from a Latin dance club.
We went through a metal detector where the jean-clad “security guard” told us to turn our phones off. Yeah right. I went to the clerk behind the desk eager to find out where I could go defend my innocence. Little did I know she would issue my sentence.
The woman behind the Plexiglas partition met me with a cold stare. She opened my file and typed away without making eye contact, then she said I came just in time. “Why?” I asked.
“It’s been a month,” she replied. “We were going to put a warrant out for your arrest today.”
I gasped in dismay. Jozie’s reaction was the opposite, roaring laughter.
After the accident, Jozie was always good for a ride, though she conveniently asked if I saw a bus coming my direction at every intersection. Too soon. As to why I chose her to come to court remains a mystery, because she even asked the clerk if she would get a reward for turning me in.
My “court” appearance went downhill from there. The clerk finally cracked a smile – at Jozie’s question – before asking me to raise my right hand and put my left one on the traffic violation I signed.
At this, Jozie could barely stand up straight for laughing so hard. Even I had to chuckle at not being given a Bible to swear on.
The woman briskly snatched my plea and returned with a tiny slip of paper the size of the Chick-fil-A receipts we throw away in the Campus Center. On it was my $107 court fee. Was this my court?
I handed over my debit card ready to end this dreadful experience, but then I read a yellow warning taped on the Plexiglas. Apparently, a failure to cooperate with the clerk would land me in contempt of court.
I asked what would happen – hoping that I would finally see some real action. The previously grim-faced woman giggled again and sarcastically told me she would walk around and handcuff me.
On that note, I was out. Small town courts may work for the bumps in Mayberry’s road, but it totaled my judicial dreams.