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:
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:
“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.