Melinama gets up early to go to Traffic Court in Hillsborough North Carolina
Eighteen years ago I got a ticket for speeding on Weaver Dairy Road. It's a nice wide road, no obstacles, few traffic lights, a 35 mph speed limit, and (I learned back then) a lot of traffic cops hiding behind bushes.
Since then I have always been cautious on Weaver Dairy Road, but a few weeks back I tried Weaver Dairy Road extension, which is like the old part of the road except broader, bigger, no lights at all, and completely deserted. "Excellent road!" I thought until the cop turned his lights on and I suddenly realized this long, broad, excellent road had a TWENTY-FIVE MPH speed limit and was a total speed trap.
So my court date was this morning. I was pretty nervous about it and didn't even know where traffic court was, so I left the house early and got there an hour and a half before the court opened. There were already about sixty people ahead of me in line. It's a good thing it was a pretty day. I got out my Yiddish homework and worked while eavesdropping on indignant Americans, young and old, every race, telling each other they did not deserve their tickets. "Baloney," I think to myself, "each of us deserves the pink slip clutched in hand plus hundreds more." Then I heard them tell each other - indignantly - what a waste of their time it was to stand in this line, and that they had more important things to do, and then some blamed the car companies: "They shouldn't make cars that go so fast."
After a while the doors opened and we started flowing in. I have to say, it was kind of fun, because first, I like eavesdropping on indignant Americans, and second, every single soul working at District Court was kind, friendly, and efficient. One guy was going through the line dismissing charges right and left (unfortunately, not for my offense!) and letting the people go home.
My friend Judy had told me to ask for a "Prayer for Judgment Continued." If you have a clean record, they let you go with just court costs and nothing goes on your record. But it's not a Get Out Of Jail Free card, because if you get knicked again within three years, you get nailed for both tickets and more penalties too.
The judge came in a little late, we who had been sent upstairs to court were sitting in the pews, many still chatting quietly about the injustice of it all.
She called us up three by three and was quite lenient. Each person took about 10 seconds of her time (or less), except one kid who had given a false name to the officer who stopped him. That kid is in trouble.
I got my seven seconds, sat on a bench for a while, was ushered to a line at the cashier, paid out $110 cash - among people who were milling around muttering indignantly because Orange County will not accept their personal checks. It said so right on the ticket, dummies.
Some wanted to argue that THEY were special cases.
It amazes me that people think they might be special cases.
So all in all, it was expensive but fun. I should not have lost sleep over it.
As I left the building, relieved though poorer, I was astonished to see about six hundred people standing in this fat line which snaked down the hill, through a big parking lot, and took a right turn by another building and out to a sidewalk. Somebody said there were 1500 people to be processed this morning.
I saw one of my ex-students in line - she was there as witness for her companion, who was (they say) "Not Guilty." Hmm. How long were you in that line, my friend?
Technorati Tags: Traffic Court, District Court, Speed Trap, Prayer+for+Judgment