I went to Night Traffic Court for doing a California roll right turn on a red light, and it was boring so I decided what would make it less boring was to let you all peek into the window of misery and despair that is Night Traffic Court.
4:30 PM – At traffic court
4:35 PM – Girl in front of me at the traffic court line is staring at everything like it’s covered in shit. It’s traffic court, it sucks, get over it
4:50 PM – Country dough face in cheap shoes, jean skirt and water polo shirt listens to ipod, stares out into space
4:52 PM – I got all claustrophobic and tried to leave through the emergency exit. It buzzed at me.
5:10 PM – Cell phones are not allowed to be in the traffic courtroom so I am writing this in my moleskin to be transcribed later.
5:10-5:25 – Q&A with the bailiff. Don’t try to explain. Plead guilty, not guilty or a third thing I forgot. Baliff is not a good teacher. He doesn’t repeat the question and he does not answer loud enough. Most of this is lost on me
5:27 PM – I can’t tell if the Spanish section is better off because they get to ask questions of the translator, or worse off because they don’t get to ask questions of the bailiff.
5:28 PM – Court clerks, bailiffs and translator chat and socialize, waiting for the judge to come in.
5:28 PM – Nobody else is listening to their ipod, not even country dough face. I decided to turn mine off. Never know what’ll offend a judge, especially a night traffic court judge.
5:28 PM – I have a feeling this will not be over at 6PM. Do you think I could be held in contempt of court for sleeping?
5:29 PM – Court is now in session
5:29 PM – The judge looks like a nice old guy. Says that he’ll probably slash fines, unless you asked for your fine to be slashed, then you’ll probably get whatever you already got. Tells us that there are two kinds of people that don’t get on well in his courtroom and they are unreformed multi-offenders and people who ask for their fines to be slashed. He also hates it when people don’t get up as soon as he calls their name. Like I said, a nice old guy.
5:29 PM – I am convinced the clock has stopped.
5:30 PM – In consideration of the judge’s advanced age, I have taken my lip ring out.
5:30 PM – Wherein we learn that the judge prefers to be called sir, and will take offense if he is not. This is no time for hippie egalitarianism.
5:32 PM – Judge orders a 16 year old ticketed for underage smoking to write him a 5 page essay on the dangers of cigarettes in the hopes that he’ll “knock that silliness off.” Also references the activity of ‘camping with your father’ in his lecture to the boy. Not to be judgmental, but I have a feeling that mini-hulk here has never been camping with his father, if he even knows who that is.
5:34 PM – Judge gets sassy with the first douche to ask for a slashed fine. “This is not a Burger King, sir.” Go judge, it’s your birfday…
5:40 PM – I notice that the judge is dismissing every single photo enforcement ticket that comes across his desk. This continues the rest of the night. Go judge.
5:41 PM – Man ticketed for “driving on the wrong side of the road and without a license.” The entire courtroom laughed.
5:44 PM – A lot of the Spanish speakers don’t have licenses.
5:53 PM – Every time he slashes a fine, he says “It was supposed to be X, it’s going to be Y. That’s a bargain”
6:00 PM – I’m up
6:15 PM – I got my ticket cut in half! two-seventy something looks so much prettier than the four-seventy something I was going to be paying.
6:30 PM – Couple in matching khakis clings to each other like they’ve just been thrown into the thunder dome. It’s just night traffic court bitches!
7:00 PM – Waiting around to get my payment plan instated. Boredy bored bored
7:30 PM – Final Outcome: the fine, including processing fees comes out to $313, to be paid in $50 monthly installments over the next 6 months. I’m on my own recognizance to send the money in, I will not get a bill.
7:33 PM – On my way out, I trip on a line separator thingy and the younger bailiff tells me to “watch where you walk.” It’s been a long stressful day, and I’m tired and and it hurts my soul a little bit to chuckle at such a douchey statement as if it was funny, but $200 off a ticket is there to help me forget about my dignity.
10:00 PM – At home, I write out all the checks I’ll be paying, put them in the specially formatted envelopes that the court gave me and clip them to their corresponding page on the calender so I won’t forget to send them on time. I even stamp them. I am the king of this shit right now.