i don’t even have a joke here

October 15, 2009

I have the utmost respect for law enforcement. Really. I’m not one of those guys who says “Oh, I hate cops” or anything like that.

And yet, of the dozen (or two dozen) times I’ve been pulled over by the boys in blue, I’ve gotten off with a warning one time. ONCE. In my life. I’m not belligerent. I don’t yell, or insult, or insinuate. But I am, by now, resigned.

Couple weeks ago, I had another day in court. It didn’t go well. But you already knew that.

As I mentioned, Maddy got her car. She drives it to school most days, and most days the official parking lot at school is not just full, but overflowing. And so, a couple weeks after the school year started, Maddy returned to her Jeep and found a ticket on the windshield. Two violations: Illegal Parking, and Destruction of Public Property. The first was listed as an actual citation, the second as a warning.

I was not super happy with Maddy for this, until I saw where she had parked, and found out that dozens of students (and teachers) park there every day:

pic two

And when a quick look at the back of the ticket and the city website failed to stipulate the fine for the citation, we waited for further notification. Which, of course, OF COURSE, was a court date. Yay.

I figured, you know, civics lesson. The Jeep is registered in my name, so technically it was my ticket, but I thought it would be instructive to go to court with Maddy and explain to the judge the nature of the mistake. You know. High school student. New driver. The absence of any (not one) “No Parking” signs. No red curb. And the presence of dozens of other vehicles parked in the same place. Every day.

I was further encouraged by the two cases before us. First guy had driven an unregistered, uninsured car, with no license, and rolled it over, hitting another vehicle in the process. He pleaded ignorance, stupidity, and poverty. He had brought his parents to prove it. He had his fine cut in half.

The second guy was another student of the same local high school. He parked next to a red curb. His original fine? $30. He said “I know it was dumb, but I’ve learned my lesson, and plus there were lots of people parked there.” His fine was also cut in half.

So I was confident when I faced the judge. “Your honor,” I said. “It’s my car, but my daughter who was the driver. Where she parked is a vacant dirt area, no vegetation, no red curb, and not a single “No Parking” sign. And lots of others park there every day.”

And as if this judge knew who I was, as if he was channeling every cop who ever pulled me over, as if he was the embodiment of the very Park Service employees who wanted me thrown off a Canyonlands cliff, the judge’s face darkened.

“I know that spot” he spat. “There’s a CURB. You don’t need a sign. There’s a CURB.”

“Yes your honor, I realize that. But it’s a dirt patch. And people park there every day. And . . .”

“They shouldn’t HAVE to put up a SIGN! There’s a CURB! And they’re trying to re-grow that area!”

Um. This area:

pic one

“You’re honor, I don’t mean to argue with you. You obviously know the area. I just want to point out that . . .”

“That’s ridiculous! Everyone knows you don’t go over a CURB to park! They don’t need a sign!”

“Um. Yes your honor.”

“The usual amount is $50. I guess that’ll have to do. And it says here he only gave you a warning for the Destruction of Property. So I guess I can’t fine you for that . . .”

“Do you take credit cards?”

I don’t even have a joke here.


12 Responses to “i don’t even have a joke here”

  1. lifein360 Says:

    It is probably best that you didn’t make a joke….if that was your intention. Is there another level you can take this. Seems a bit ridiculous. I wouldn’t have been so cordial.

  2. Doug Says:

    I have only had one experience trying to explain something like this to a Judge. He said if your friends jumped off a cliff would you jump too? I said it depends on the cliff. It did not go well after that.

  3. Rachel Says:

    You should have let Maddy do the talking. She would have walked away for nothing.

  4. mary Says:

    Remember the Seinfeld episode where George is breaking up with his girlfriend and says, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Well, Dug, I’m afraid it’s YOU.

  5. bikemike Says:

    Reader’s Digest would’ve had an appropriate joke for such an occasion.

  6. Brad Sneed Says:

    I’m thinking Maddie should have used her sweet little voice and she would have been fine…But no, thats what we Dads do, we fix things…Right!

  7. Rob (dug's brother) Says:

    You must have missed the memo.
    When addressing a judge, all sentances must end with how sorry you are and, pay attention here, how wrong you were.
    Doesn’t have to be true, just has to be said.

  8. Rob Says:

    Is that a private parking lot curb or a public road curb? Private property where she parked I’m assuming?

    Can a cop ticket you for parking on private property unless the owner of the property complains? Did the owners complain?

  9. Robin Says:

    Did he ticket every one of the dozens of cars that park there everyday?

  10. fish Says:

    And also don’t forget the preliminary, “I know I shouldn’t have done it,” even if you’d do it again. You’ve inspired a rant, but I’ll do it on my own space.

  11. Tim D Says:

    I’m still bristling about my “contempt of court” fine. Apparently saying “the court couldn’t possible hold me is as high a contempt as I have for the court and particularly its magistrate” doesn’t seem to go down too well. Can’t imagine why, the guy was a tosser.

  12. Brandon S. Says:

    Too bad you didn’t have the defense attorney we had for the Canyonlands Court episode. I would like to have heard what would come out of his mouth upon seeing the dirt parking lot area.

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