Gina Goes to Court….

….and other wastes of time!

Okay, not sure if I mentioned on this site the fact that I got a speeding ticket this past summer. I speed everyday – my “zone” of speed on the freeway is right around 80 – so it was just a matter of time before I got a speeding ticket. I don’t really have a bone to pick with the CHP officer that gave me the ticket – it is what it is.

On a side note, back in the 70’s when Chips was a popular show about the CHP officers, it used to tick my Dad off when non-Californians referred to CHP officers as “chips”. No one here calls them that!

Anyway, Gina paid for this ticket and traffic school, but in the craziness of her life and all the moves, misplaced the notice for traffic school. Said form was found last Wednesday, at which time I noticed I had until 1/12 to get my traffic school done. Um, not gonna happen! So I called the court and was told I needed to see a judge. I went there the following afternoon with Kirstie (who I had to bribe with sushi to go with me) and was told I needed to come at 7:30 the next morning to get in the court queue. I did that, only to find out that it took several hours to get through the process and, unfortunately, I had an interview in Woodland Hills at 11 am, so decided to take a chance and go back to court on Monday the 12th.

So that brings me to today, the 12th. I almost didn’t go – I was SO TIRED this morning and was like, forget it. But then Edgar’s mom convinced me to go. I was in line 40 minutes later with the others who had traffic issues – some more serious than mine. We were assigned our courts and viola – there we went.

The bailiff for my court was a man in his late 50’s or early 60’s, with a shaved head, and a big gun. He reminded me of my Dad because he was kind of buff and intimidating to look at. He was also a “no nonsense” kind of guy who had no problem yelling out things like, “Hey USC (referring to the guy’s sweatshirt), take your hat off” or “white shirt, stop talking right now”. He and his gun scared me way more than the judge!

When I was called with my group to see the judge, I had already determined I probably didn’t need a lengthy story as to why I was there, why I had waited so long to deal with traffic school, or anything like that. Others before me just stood there as he assigned a new deadline. In fact, one kid was there for not wearing his helmet on his bicycle…..let me tell you, that is expensive, especially when it was the second offense! The kid’s Dad tried to get the fee reduced, but the judge was like, “he didn’t take a warning last time, and next time if he is in my court the fee will be even higher”.

ANYWAY, when my turn came, I stood silently, careful not to touch the table in front of me or put my hands in my pockets (two serious offenses that really got the bailiff’s blood boiling). The judge looked at me from his high perch and asked, “Are you here for two cases?”

“No, I am here for one case.”

“Well, why do I have two cases?”

“I am not sure, Sir. I am here to extend my traffic school deadline.”

“Oh okay. You have until February 25th. I can’t extend it again so make sure you take care of it by that date. You are free to go to the cashier.”

“Thank you judge.”

I left pretty quick, not daring to lock eyes with Mr. I-Can-Shoot-You-Just-Give-Me-A-Reason Bailiff, and headed to another queue, waiting for my name to be called. I figured it would be a while since I saw many of the faces that talked to the judge ahead of me. I sat down, began to read on of my new books, and relaxed. Suddenly, I hear, “Gina Mxxxxx, window 10”. I was so surprised, and really pleased, and walked to the window with a little skip in my step.

“Are you Gina Mxxxxx?”

“Yes.”

“The judge is calling you back to Court.” Dun dun dun!

I walked back into the court with my mind spinning. Did he see the ticket I got last month and now wants to revoke the extension? Did he have questions about why I waited until the last minute to do this? Was there another problem I have no idea about? Don’t you just hate when your mind can think of worse case scenarios so quickly?!?!!?!

When I walked in, the Bailiff looked my once over like I was a moving target, looked back at the man facing the judge, and I sat quickly in a seat. I had no idea when I would be called by the judge, if I needed to check in or something, but I was NOT going to call attention to myself or give Mr. Bailiff a reason to touch his gun. So I sat there, not knowing if this day was going to turn into a horribly long one. Fortunately, as the man with the judge finished, the judge called my name.

“Gina Mxxxxx” I stood before him without a word, facing straight ahead, and tried to not look guilty or nervous. “I found your other case, sorry for the confusion. Do you plead guilty or do you want a trial.”

So let me explain this new issue a bit for reference – back in December I left work (one of the worse days ever – in fact, the day before I quit) and was a mess. I was sobbing in the car, tears running down my face, and utterly despondent. I was living in Woodland Hills at the time and driving from Tustin. For those of you out of the So Cal area, this meant I would be driving 1 1/2 to 2 hours in traffic. I was driving my friend’s hybrid car, which allowed me to access the carpool lane even though I was alone. When I got on the freeway, traffic was HORRIBLE and I didn’t have much time to get to the carpool lane, especially since the freeway I needed totally blocked the carpool lane off with concrete barriers. I aggressively changed lanes in the 5-10 mpg traffic, tears running down my face, totally absorbed in the fact that my life pretty much sucked at that moment.

When I made it to the fast lane, I soon realized the carpool lane was just as congested and, further, the people there didn’t care that my car’s blinker was signaling that I wanted in, too. (This is a common problem with driving in rush hour traffic in California.) Anyway, those of you who know me for real, know that this sort of problem has never been a real issue to me. Not sure if my confidence level is unrealistic or if I don’t care about my car, but it’s amazing how well people move when you don’t give them a choice. LOL So, as the entry/broken line to the carpool was ending, I pushed my way in.

This is where it gets ugly. I promise you, if I DID cross the yellow line, it was my back tire and it was less than 5 feet. This was after fighting to get into the carpool lane. Believe me, as I mentioned earlier, I am not one to say “that is so unfair” when I get a ticket for something I know I have done wrong. I HAVE crossed the yellow line on many occasions, and if I had been pulled over, I would have resigned to accept the consequences. However, this was NOT the case on this night. (And, frankly, I am not interested in hearing from anyone telling me this was my karma for the times I DID break the law, so please refrain.)

I drove for several miles, minding my own business, eating my sunflower seeds (they calm me and taste good!), still kind of crying because of the drama at work. Then, suddenly, blue and red lights.

I am going to cut this description short because, well, my blood is starting to boil again! I got a ticket for crossing the yellow line and, well, the CHP officer was training a newbee! I was a little pissy with him, telling him it was a far stretch and that he saw the entire thing (he claimed he was behind me and crossed the yellow line as well to follow me) but I was like, whatever. I even accused him of trying to meet a quota.

Side note: Accussing an officer of ANYTHING is, well, not recommended.

Also, crying apparently does NOT work, even though I was crying for another reason.

So anyway, this was the ticket the judge called me back for, and which I am contemplating going to trial for since I think it is bogus and also because I am not eligible for traffic school anyway. (That, and the fact it is a $400 fine!). But, I was NOT prepared to address that today, and that is what I told the judge. Fortunately, the court clerk interjected that I had until February 24th to respond to the court for that ticket.

“Oh,” the judge said, “I see. I will go ahead and record no action for you and you can take care of this later. You are free to go.” I hit the floor pretty quick, not taking the chance of the judge or Mr. I-Carry-A-Gun changed their minds, and headed back to the hall. Once out the door, I was able to feel my relief – whew, nothing about the extension! I went back to the cashier area, waiting for a while, got my extension paperwork, and hit the road!

And that, my friends, is the recap of my day in court!

On another side note, I have decided to create a new page on this blog. I used to have a book review page, but now I have a Books I’m Reading page.  If you’re extremely bored, check it out!

And, no I haven’t scheduled my traffic school yet!  🙂

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