Thursday, June 16, 2011

Frankie Goes to Court

I had no intention of coming in late to work on a Tuesday, when I first got the speeding ticket. I was going to be a good, docile citizen, and pay the thing online. But with being gone to Asia Minor and all, I wasn't in town when the thing was posted. And by the time I got back, it was too late to pay it online. And by the time I realized that, it was too late to pay it by mail. So one way or other, I was going to have to make my way to the Fairfax county court.

Surprising to many of you, I have never been on the wrong side of the law before. I am an exceptionally law abiding person; I am rather a stickler for any kind of rules, government given or otherwise. So I was not acquainted with the ways of the court system. I stepped into the foyer and was horrified to realize that my phones were going to be confiscated from me. Not only that, but my computer that I was going to do work on while I was waiting. Did anyone else know they do that? I didn't. But I guess they don't want people taking pictures of the building to plan their gang brother's escape route.

Anyways, stripped of my technology, I was going to be forced to watch the proceedings as they unfolded. What a gift!

For starters, they hear about 100 cases at the same hearing. So the room is filled with people from every walk of life in Fairfax County. I quickly learned that only 30% of us had any command of the English language, which added further confusion to the proceedings, as translators of various mother tongues had to be shuffled in and out of the court. I'm not sure how adept they were at conveying the pronouncements of the bench, because more than one of them made a threatening approach towards the judge and had to be herded back to their podium by bored security guards. The most aggressive guy seemed to be an Asian diplomat who was convinced that his status liberated him from the traffic rules of the state of Virginia. Oh, contraire.

I was also becoming increasingly thankful for how professionally my citing officer had been when he pulled me over. When he asked me why I had been speeding, I told him the truth - that I thought the speed limit was 35mph and that I was singing Disney songs. He snorted, regained his composure, and waived the $200 additional fine for the neighborhood zone. I was lucky - from the sound of it, there are some crazy people on police motorcycles, roaming the streets of Fairfax County looking for people to accost. One lady in particular was routinely characterized as having hit people cars with her clipboard, leaning into open windows to scream in people's face, and generally making herself terrifying. I am staying away from the community college campuses of the NOVA area, as this seems to be her hunting grounds.

Finally, after many tears and pleas for mercy, I heard my name called. So I sauntered up to the stand, made my baby blues as wide and innocent as possible...

And said, in my most delectable, dulcet Southern tones, "Your honor, I am so sorry to have caused all this trouble. I apologize and just say that this was an honest mistake. I was new to Falls Church at the time, and I really thought the speed limit was 35 mph. I have never been pulled over in my life before - you can see on my driving record. I do apologize, like I said, and I have certainly learned my lesson."

He glanced up.  "What state did you come from?" I smiled sweetly and purred, "Tennessee." He paused.

"Just pay the court cost. The rest of the fine is waived. Next."

Frankie fought the law. Frankie won. Bam.

Note: For those attempting a similar feat, make sure that 1) you do in fact have an unblemished record, 2) you are in fact from the South, and 3) you are in fact female. For the gents, may I suggest wearing a full suit and tie? This seemed to curry favor, as well.