Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Scofflaw Smackdown 2007!

First of all, I never should have worn brand-new underpants to court. I bought new underpants this weekend and I hadn’t tried them on, see. They’re that foo-foo Go Softwear brand, and since I paid nearly $20 for a basic pair of briefs (in a masculine shade of Beaujolais), I naively assumed it was cut to conform to the topography of the male anatomy. Silly me. “Go Softwear” is clearly Dutch (or something) for “adult doll panties,” and the damn things have spent the day creeping so far up my butt that all that Beaujolais is making me kind of tipsy. Which totally took the fun out of traffic court today.

And while we’re on the topic of dressing for court, let me say that I spent a considerable amount of time this morning (and last night as well) deciding what to wear. I didn’t want to be all schlubby and disrespectful (especially because my lack of respect for Coppy McGoatfucker and his fundraising committee was probably going to show pretty clearly on my face) but I didn’t want to appear so rich and fashionable that the judge would decide I could totally afford to pay some massive traffic fine for something I totally didn’t do. So I wore black dress pants I got from a clearance rack at the Gap about seven years ago and a dark thistle-colored dress shirt I got from a clearance rack at Target at least 10 years ago. And you know what? I was still the most expensively dressed scofflaw in the courtroom. The vast majority of my fellow scofflaws showed up in what could only be described as “make this fast because I’m only halfway through cleaning the garage.” The rest were in the “I lost my iron in the earthquake” camp. And one hoochie mama looked like she definitely needed to appear in court, but a traffic citation was probably the least of her legal problems.

Coppy McGoatfucker was there, just as I figured he’d be. But traffic court to him is obviously more than just a change of venue from sitting in his car all day; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make dramatic costume changes. When the announcement was made that the front row of the courtroom needed to be cleared for police officers, he slouched his way up in a grungy shirt and floppy hat … which he dramatically removed to reveal his underlying uniform the moment the judge entered. He even stood up taller when he did it, as though to clearly define the two characters he was playing so the audience wouldn’t get confused. For real! I don’t know if he was wearing his undercover ensemble today so he could infiltrate the mob or just to throw the aliens off his trail, but the fact remains that while the other cops showed up in plain old cop uniforms, he made an entrance in court today that involved a dramatic rags-to-riches costume change. Oh my goodness! That poor downtrodden pauper is really an officer of the law! Unfortunately, he was a week too late to qualify for his Tony nomination.

The rest of my court appearance was relatively mundane. The judge called me to the bench, mispronouncing my name sloppily. I got the driving-without-proof-of-insurance charge thrown out when I showed my insurance card. I pleaded guilty with supervision on the bullshit rolling-through-a-stop-sign charge on the recommendation of an attorney and two fellow scofflaws who said that since my record was spotless I could just pay a fine and have everything disappear—guaranteed—if I don’t get pulled over for four months. If there was good news, my $80 fine somehow got reduced to $55 by the time I walked down the hall to the cashier, who was forced to interrupt her chatty phone conversation with her friend to go double-check that there hadn’t been some kind of error.

All told, this little fundraising scam would have been a lot more efficient if Coppy McGoatfucker had simply held a gun to my head and forced me to empty my wallet when he pulled me over last April. But he had visions of costume changes and sparkle fingers and kick-ball-changes, so who am I to deny him his dreams? And for $55—the cost of three hookers and a fifth of Mad Dog to swig while I’m driving down the highway without my seatbelt—I got some great blog fodder.

And now I have my license back, so I can stop carrying my passport around and worrying that it might fall out of my back pocket. And Coppy McGoatfucker can get a gold star on his fundraising chart and maybe qualify for the monthly Applebee's drawing. But before I let this story die (and I offer no guarantees because I’m still not done being pissed about it), I have two messages I need to deliver on behalf of all citizens everywhere:

Dear court bailiff or cruise director or whatever your title is: You mumble. It’s your job to give people instructions they can understand. When person after person after person in your courtroom asks you to repeat yourself, the problem lies with you. Don’t get all snippy with us.

Dear court cashier: Your job is to process payments. Processing payments more often than not involves a pen. Therefore, your job requires that you have a pen. The cashiers at TJ Maxx always have a pen. They also have to remove little electronic tags, fold stuff and put things in bags. Which means your job asks a whole lot less of you. And yet you still didn’t have a pen. Why?

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