Tuesday night, before I went to bed, I tucked myself under the covers and Googled, “how to dress for a court summons.”
Dress like you would for a job interview.
Don’t wear sweatpants or shorts.
Men, you should wear a tie.
Ladies, slacks are a good option.
In ten hours, on Wednesday morning, I was to report to my hearing, face the judge, and pay a fine. I needed to know how to look the part of a criminal looking for leniency.
Wednesday morning’s INSANE sunrise. It made me hopeful for the rest of the day.
I dreaded this day for a month, but I couldn’t wait to be done with it.
The thing is, I’m pretty emotional; I’m a feeler and I can’t help it. The bigger the thing the more emotion…and this thing was/is gigantic. But as I pulled up to the Westminster Municipal Court building in Westminster, CO, a meh town that sits almost equally between Louisville and Denver, I cut the engine, let out the breath I’d held in the past 30 days and decided to take the emotion out of everything that came after getting out of my car and locking the door behind me.
No emotion as I walked into the building which was painted a depressing shade of dirty grey or as I passed through the metal detector. I made sure not to touch anything, either. It felt like I’d leave a piece of myself there if I did, and I wanted to walk out of that place feeling whole.
No emotion as I got signed into the system and waited in the drab lobby with my fellow criminals, all facing varying degrees of charges against them.
No emotion as I was read my rights and asked to sign several legalese documents.
And no emotion even when I whispered “guilty” into the microphone to the judge when asked how I plea to the charges against me.
“Guilty, your honor.”
I’ve never been guilty of anything like this. Never been guilty of speeding. Never guilty of changing lanes unsafely (the woman’s charge sitting next to me). And I’ve never been found guilty of driving recklessly on the highway (the gentleman’s charge to my right). But here I was admitting to a crime.
The judge asked us all the same questions.
“Are you under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication that would prevent you from making decisions or answering questions?”
“I see here you <<insert violation here>>”
“Can you tell me what happened?”
One woman brought up the fact that her sister had committed suicide the morning of her traffic violation, and that that was the reason she wasn’t thinking clearly or driving safely.
Another woman was hysterical. She hit a pedestrian in a walkway while making a left turn at an intersection and was inconsolable on the stand as she walked the judge through what happened and how ‘not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about the incident.’ Sounds familiar…
My answers were short, sweet, and almost inaudible (the judge asked me to speak up several times) because, frankly, I wanted to get the hell out of there. But I didn’t waver and I didn’t cry. I don’t think I smiled, but I am pretty sure I bowed a little when the judge offered to knock off two points and lower the fine.
I received my fine and walked into the hallway where you must pay before you can leave the building like some effed up amusement park ride where you’re forced to buy the picture whether you like it or not. My $500 fine was reduced to just $150. Some violations cost upwards of $2500. What happens if you can’t pay that then and there? I didn’t stick around to ask.
With receipt in hand, which I crumpled up immediately after exiting the building, I opened the doors and let the sunshine and chilly air hit my face. Is this what inmates feel like when they are released from prison?
I got into my car and locked the door. Then I let myself be emotional for a second. I ran through what had just happened and all I could think about was this new smudge on my squeaky clean driving record. Total bummer.
And if you’re wondering…HELL TO THE NAH I DID NOT WEAR SLACKS.
Push on, PUSH ANIMALS >>>