Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Unsuitable for Combat

If I Were President... I would make everything go in REVERSE alphabetical order. That's what happens when you get a Yates for President.

So I went to Traffic Court today. Yeah. It sucked. But it was also kinda funny. Granted, it's taken several hours and two glasses of wine to get to "kinda funny," but at least we're there, right?

My ticket was for speeding, which here in Northern Virginia means, "Keeping up with the flow of traffic."

I brought a book so imagine my disappointment with the huge "No reading material including newspapers, magazines, or books not related to your case" sign on the door into the courtroom. What good does this do? Can someone please tell me?

So I wrote my updated To Do list, and then I sat and listened to the dozens of cases that were further up in the alphabet than me.

I heard one case involving a man who explained, through an interpreter, that he doesn't have a valid license because he can't read or write (even in Spanish) so he can't pass the driving test, but he has to get to work because he has a wife and four kids.

I heard one case involving a young nursing student who was traveling 96 mph in a 55 mph zone (on the freeway late at night, which is not at all uncommon here (although I would never do it)). She had a lawyer present her case and screamed in anguish when the judge sentenced her to 30 days in jail. She was crying so loudly in the holding room that the bailiff had to go in and move her so her cries of, "I'm scared!" wouldn't affect the rest of the proceedings. I listened to her father weeping two rows behind me.

I heard a bunch of false apologies for things like rolling through stop signs, making illegal u-turns, and expired tags/expired licenses/expired safety checks. And the judge just handled each case like you'd expect a traffic court judge to handle them. With an "I've heard this a hundred times, who the heck really cares, $100 plus court costs" attitude. (Even for the girl he sent to jail.)

When there were only about six of us left I was finally called up. I told the judge that I was nervous and I hoped he wouldn't mind if I referred to notes I'd written. He suddenly got very animated and said, "I don't understand you people who are nervous for traffic court. You and that other girl earlier. You are totally unsuitable for combat," and kind of looked at the bailiff and laughed as if to say, "Look at this idiot, she's going down at the first round of mortar attacks!"


I was so shocked that all I could say was, "Uhm, I'm not going into combat, Your Honor."

So that kind of threw me.

I proceeded to attempt to give my explanation of what had happened, all the while wondering why in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks the judge has referred to COMBAT. Am I not in traffic court?

I explained that while I don't have "positive points" here in Virginia (the point system here is such that certain offenses remove a certain number of "points" from your license, while every year you go without any offenses adds one "point" to your record), I haven't even been pulled over for more than 12 years (since I was in college). I have a very very good driving record and pride myself on being a safe, attentive, defensive driver. I was explaining that even though I don't have "positive points" here, it's only because I'm new to Virginia.

Somehow, I either did not manage to explain myself well, or (more likely) the scales of justice had been piling up on one side all morning, because all of a sudden the judge snapped.

I received a tirade about how many people die in Fairfax County every month due to traffic incidents. How it doesn't matter if I'm not a chronic offender, all it takes is one incident to kill someone. Etc, etc, etc, etc. It was as if he was making an example of me, only there was almost noone left in the courtroom to hear it.

Meanwhile, I started crying.

Meanwhile, I'm saying, "Yes, Your Honor." "I understand that, Your Honor." "Of course, Your Honor, I was only...."

Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "All these idiots with worse offenses went before me and you said not one word, and I'm the one getting yelled at?"

So imagine my surprise when he suddenly says, "I find you guilty and suspend the fine. Pay only court fees."

Huuuuhhh-errr? Wha...? I thought he was going to throw the book at me the way he went on and on and on and on, but then he suspended my fine?

The bailiff actually had to tell me to leave. I was so confused at the sudden change.

Court Fees: $62. Parking lot fees: $8. Time spent traveling to and waiting in court: 5 hours. Having a Traffic Court judge tell you you're "unsuitable for combat": Priceless!


Anonymous said...

Unsuitable for combat?!?! ahahaahah...of course i will take it for my "how to answer to a woman" notebook! :P

Glad he suspended the're too coool Cameron!!! Love you!

Chiara said...

okay. I am confused for you. I think you got off with court fees only because of his tirade you could of made a complaint against him.

It worked out for you so take it though that guy is a nut.

Anonymous said...

maybe "unsuitable for combat" is a compliment, meaning you're obviously not one of the 2a.m. beltway dragsters. ??? that's an accomplishment, because the only way to survive driving in this area is to become one with the beast. great story!

Katie said...

Sounds like the jackass gets off on making young girls cry so I don't think he's suitable for combat either. Bet that would hurt HIS feelings a lot more than yours. heh

Hope you don't end up in his court again. xo

Anna Willett said...

that judge sounds like he is a little off his rocker! actually, a LOT off his rocker! what a creep.

Julie said...

Sorry, that judge is an 'A-hole'.... hate men who think they can say and be rude whenever they want just because they're in a position of power'.

kellie said...

holy crap. i don't think i could have handled a tirade like that either! i would have cried too. sheesh, that's quite a story!

Wendy H said...

Note to self: stay out of traffic court! But you did get a great blog post out of it :) Hope you have a better day today!

ingrid said...

Wow. I am so sorry that he was all crazy on you. I could completely FEEL the agony. I totally would have cried too, but I have to say---- what a great story!
I bet his "unprepared for combat" comment is more about the nature of litigation. Lawyers and court systems are into combat. Normal people are not. But it makes me wonder how he would have responded if you came in there with a fighting attitude... I don't think he would have liked that either.
*and the chick who went to jail... surely this was not her first offense? That seems harsh.

Ava's Mom said...

That guy was on a total power trip... sorry he was such a jerk. But, I must admit I laughed at this crazy story! Great writing and at least you have a sense of humor about it.

cynthia said...

oh my Cameron. Unsuitable for combat. Whatever MR. Judge, I would want you to cover my back. Great story.And the ending was priceless:)

jenwcom said...

OMG! what a story! my heart is racing. what if you'd gotten 30 days in jail??? that is C.RA.ZY!

so glad you are safe and sound.