those special spectacles

January 4, 2007

By the time the Judge called me up this morning, I was so involved in listening to others’ tales that amusement had taken the place of a good bit of my prior anxiety about my first speeding ticket court appearance. And frankly I felt a bit silly about my mentally rehearsed explanation for my spaciness when comparing it to the bizarre tales I had been listening to while awaiting my turn. But I still pleaded “distractedness” when she asked how I wanted to plead—I explained that some combination of my power outage that morning, preparations for moving, and mental rehearsals for work and church speeches had made me lax in watching my speedometer on my way to work that morning. And she was kind, for sure. She forgave me the ticket itself due to it being my first. Then she asked how long I would be away. With a slight grin, she said that on condition that I maintain a violation-free record for the next six months, the citation will not go on my driving record either . . . “I suspect that will not be too hard for you,” she concluded. Laughing, I thanked her and said that I suspected not.
Backtracking slightly in my tale . . .
The case that made me nearly violate the rules while in the courtroom, stifling the laughter that threatened to make itself audible, involved a young woman and an elderly gentleman. The two had been involved in an accident, upon which it was discovered that both were under “moving violations.” The girl [who looked to me to be in her late teens] had been found to be without her license and without proof of insurance at the time. In court today, though, she was able to remedy that by providing both documents. The gentleman’s story was a bit more complicated . . .
The Judge began, kindly: “Sir, can you explain why you were driving without a license that day?”
“Well, I didn’t know they was going to ‘voke it. I didn’t know ‘till later it was ‘voked . . .” [At this point the officer standing nearby offered a translation of “revoked,” to which the man nodded with an air of annoyance at being interrupted]. “See I got these cataracts. And I’m s’posed to get some special eyeglasses but I ain’t got those yet so I cain’t see real good. But I didn’t know it was ‘voke. I guess it was in that letter, but I got these cataracts, see, so I couldn’t tell . . .”
The Judge spoke again here: “So you know now that you should not be driving?”
“Oh, yes, I do know. My lady—she’s in the back there [he pointed to the back of the courtroom]—she drove me here. I’m not driving now, not ‘till I get those glasses. No ma’am, I don’t drive anymore. But those glasses, they’re s’posed to fix these cataracts . . .”
“And a driving license as well, right?” the Judge prompted.
“Oh yes, of course, ma’am, I’ll get that license . . .”
By this point, I think I was not the only one fighting laughter. I also think that I might just have to steer clear if I ever see the gentleman on the road, even if he is wearing those special glasses . . .

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