Yesterday was my court appearance for my traffic ticket on April 7. I was feeling nervous because:
1. I am so pathetically well-behaved (or so everyone thinks!) and I almost never get in trouble. I was so ashamed to be in court on the naughty end of the stick. I know that's dumb...it's only a traffic ticket for a minor violation, but I was edgy because I so did not want to be there.
2. It was in downtown Portland in the middle of the day, I wasn't sure to where to park, was afraid I'd get lost, etc. Again, pathetic. I am 56 years old, and even though I don't drive in Portland every day (thank goodness!), I do know my way around.
So, I did what anyone in my situation would do: dressed extra-nice-and-professional, and then left Oregon City 10 minutes later than I'd planned, so I was anxious the whole way there. So of course then I was driving a little over the speed limit, and thinking how stupid it would be to get another ticket on my way to court for the first one.
My first ticket! In 40 years of driving! Rats.
Didn't get stopped, found a place to park right away, didn't get lost between the parking garage and the courthouse, and then...a line. A long line. We had to get through courthouse security to even get into the building, and I was due on the 6th floor in eight minutes!!
I had visions of running up to the door just as it was being locked, and they wouldn't let me in. All that worry, and it didn't do me any good. Stood there in the long, slow line and worried some more.
Then a guy selling alternative newspapers outside the courthouse door pointed out that there was another entrance open. A few people changed to the new, shorter line. Should I risk it? Only four minutes left, so I switched lines, too. Only to see a sign that marked it as "employee entrance only." Aggh! A few more people joined the line behind me. No one seemed worried about the employee sign. I asked the man in front of me if he was an employee, and he said no. The woman in front of him turned to us and said that they often opened the employee line to the public right after lunch to help ease the crowding as everyone tried to get back into the courthouse. Whew!
Through the line, up to the 6th floor, right exactly on time to the minute.
The door was locked. We waited outside Room 602 for a good five minutes, and then when we were able to enter, we still sat around and waited for nearly half an hour.
I should have brought a book!
All of us naughties were seated in the audience area. No one talked much. Faces pretty serious; we were all a little on edge.
The policemen began coming in - 5 or 6 of them. They were relaxed and joking. I recognized the officer that pulled me over back in April. One of the other officers asked him how he was doing, and my officer replied, "Pretty good, with the little God gave me." He grinned.
Then the officers began calling out names of the naughties. Nothing formal about it, just every few minutes another name was called. My officer called the name of the woman next to me, and asked to see her license. He checked off some paperwork. Then he called my name. I asked if he wanted to see my license, and he said no, just this--pointing to the paperwork in my hand from the "Share the Road" driving class I attended in May.
He took my Share the Road certificate, and told me the charges would be dismissed. All I had to do was wait for the judge to call my name.
More officers called names. Some naughties in their early twenties, one in his 60s, arguing politely with his officer. A couple of attorneys floating around, one of them flirting a little with the smart-looking young woman who turned out to be the Russian translator for a naughty named Sergei.
Finally, at 2:00, the judge came in, and we all rose, and he told us to be seated. He called names. When he got to mine, my officer said "short matter," and then after a couple more names, my officer gave me a wink, and motioned me out the door.
That was it. No one made me feel guilty or stupid. I didn't have to explain why I went straight when I should have turned left. I wasn't embarrassed in front of a bunch of strangers. It wasn't like any courtroom I'd ever seen on tv. No accusations, no drama. It was just...simple.