Originally Posted: 2004-10-07 12:31pm
My MC: Jail.
The rainy, foggy remnants of hurricane Jeanne serve as a reminder of what control the weather has over the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area. Not because we fear the extremes of hail or gale force winds, but because we fear rain. Or even just the threat of rain. Because with rain, or the threat of rain, every major road or highway within a 30-mile radius of D.C. immediately backs up. We fear rain because rain brings traffic that no person should be forced to sit in, but people still do every day. Because when it rains, traffic is something you have no control over, forcing you to hold on to every fiber of your patience and sanity, and pray that some miracle that the traffic will break and you will get to work, home, the hospital, the mall, or out of this place quickly, safely, and on time.
Twelve cigarettes, one road closed detour, four turn-arounds, and an hour and forty-three minutes after leaving my Northwest apartment, I arrived at the Howard County District Court parking lot with seven minutes before the start of traffic court. Oh, I didn’t mean to cut it this close, the summons says to be there 15 minutes before the hearing. I hate not being on time! (I come from the Tom Coughlin school of promptness…) Or more appropriately, when I rush things, my head spins and I forget the little things. Okay, what do I need to take in with me…what am I going to tell the judge…wait, do I have anything on me that I shouldn't? Oh, I don’t think so, no time to check anyway. Let’s go.
I walked briskly towards the courthouse, suddenly very conscious of my self and of my surroundings. A few plain clothed cops stood outside smoking cigarettes, chatting work with other plain clothed cops, but most everyone else was, for lack of a better term, normal. Some people dressed in their business clothes, some staring tensely at the documents they brought along, others standing sheepishly off to the side, hoping nobody would notice them. I fit in with this crowd, I just want to ge this over with so I can get on with life (without the points.) I smiled at a young man sitting on an outside bench. Going in or out? Your mind can’t help but wonder what each of these people did to land themselves here this morning. And as confident as I was that the court would be lenient of my speeding charge, a twinge of shame skimmed over me for I knew someone was looking and wondering about me with the same thoughts.
I walked through the double doors and to the left of the entrance was an X-ray machine. Oh yeah, duh, I’m at a courthouse. Do I have anything metal? Too late, there goes my purse. No alarms. The purse hits the edge of the belt and as I go to grab it, the officer at the one end tells me to wait, this is an X-ray machine after all. That stuff’s not good for you.
The scanning security officer: “That’s a good looking apple you’ve got there.”
Me: “Well, I plan on finding out later if you're right,” and I flash a friendly smile. Aren’t you cute. I wonder what an apple looks like on an X-ray machine…
Once I'm there, I feel half of the battle was won. Getting to court on time is the hardest part. Everything is going to work out. I’m happy I got there and I’m glad this is getting taken care of. There is nothing to be concerned about. I can try and relax a bit.
In the courtroom, people are scattered throughout the 16 or so pews. It’s myself and another girl in a room full of guys, and people are sitting so motionlessly quiet, you could hear a mouse fart. So of course, I can’t stand that I feel like I am in church, sitting in pews in a dim, yellow walled room, about to confess my guilt to the earthly judge and pay the penalty for my wrongdoing. I know I have to have something to keep my mind away from everything here. Yes, I remember putting crossword puzzles in my purse! Score! Breaking the silence, I’ll see what I have. ZIP…
God, all the pockets on this thing, I can never find what I want the first time, it’s always in the other pocket…zip..ZIP.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
My eyes glazed over and adrenaline replaced the blood in my veins, causing my heart to thump against my chest and my fingers to tingle. It’s the same nervous adrenaline rush I got when the ticketing officer waived me down, giving me my first ticket in six years, landing me in this courtroom on this very day. The rush is my body’s irrepressible reaction to my mind’s alarm. It's so quiet, can people hear me breathing? Did anyone notice me? Stay cool, honey-bunny, stay cool.
Everyone is too busy being quiet to notice. The rush passes. I start a crossword. Everyone’s still praying. We all just want to get this over with.
The judge was quick. My good driving record got me a Probation Before Judgment and I paid my fine. Let’s get out of here, like, now. (Run away! Run away!)
Out through the double doors, and the young guy with the cell is still sitting there on the bench.
Me: “Still waiting for someone?”
Him: “Yeah, my friend’s supposed to pick me up. I was supposed to appear, but they wouldn’t let me in with a camera phone.”
Me: “Really? No way. I had mine on me... Well, good luck… hope your friend comes to get you,” and I was gone. They wouldn’t let him in with a camera phone? Are you kidding?
Doesn't matter now...I have a job to get to...
The contents of my x-ray-ed purse: Glasses case. Credit card holder with cards. Checkbook. Sunglasses. Pen and pencil. Gum. Barrette. Batting cage tokens (no change, no cash. Just 10 oddly shaped metal pieces). Trash and miscellaneous papers. CAMERA PHONE. EMPTY E-Z WIDER 1 ¼ ROLLING PAPER PACKAGE. CANON POWERSHOT S410 ELPH DIGITAL CAMERA. 1/8 OZ OF MARIJUANA. Gala apple.
Thank you, Karma. Please let me know what I did right so I can to it for the rest of my life.
Thank you, Mr. Security Guy. Your ineptness trumped my blatant stupidity. In retrospect, there were so many things I could have done to prevent the situation and didn’t. The consequences could have been truly devastating, more so than the feelings of shame and embarrassment that I currently experience for such a moronic action. But really folks, I’m just happy I didn’t get caught.
…And for your information, my apple was DELICIOUS.