Jim and I sat on the couch and went over my options. He was reading from a website. There are three ways to win in traffic court. One and two involved moving radar, so would not work for me. The third was to argue that I was speeding because of an emergency. After some discussion, the emergency we came up with was this: Danny really had to pee. I wasn’t sure this would be compelling in court, but Jim assured me that most people of the law were also parents and would understand. He stressed that I needed to take it further and say that because we were pulled over he had gone on to have an accident, but this just seemed like too much perjury to me. I think I’m just going to assume the cop won’t show, I countered. Are you sure this will work?
I don’t know, he said, I’ve never actually contested a ticket. You’re kidding? No, he said. I’ve always just paid them.
The next morning it was well below freezing outside so there was no way I was wearing a skirt and I’m really not into the Hillary Clinton mant suit look, so I ended up choosing black pants and a simple wool jacket. For a sweater, I thought pink was too precious and red too brazen. I decided on purple because purple is the color of royalty and royalty always gets off scot free.
I grabbed my coffee, ditched my Walkman and left early enough to arrive at the courthouse with 15 minutes to spare. I was feeling fairly confident because it had snowed several inches overnight and my hearing was at 8:30, the tail end of the morning commute. All the good working folk of Olathe were busy running into each others’ bumpers and sliding into ditches so I was certain that the Olathe police force was far too busy assisting in these incidents to show up at traffic court.
However, when I stopped inside the building to ask which courtroom I was in I was told that my hearing was not at the county courthouse, but at the city courthouse, which was down on Old 56 Highway. Did I know where that was? Yes, now that they mentioned it. So I ran back to my car and determined that I had 11 minutes to make it to the city courthouse.
I decided I should not drive too fast because (a) the roads were icy and (b) were I to be stopped and asked why I was in such a hurry, I doubted that “I’m late for traffic court” would be an answer that would win me much sympathy, even with my good cop karma. When I did arrive at the city courthouse, the parking lot was already full, because apparently all the crackheads and petty criminals of Olathe had read the manual and arrived on time for their 8:30 hearings. So I had to park in the back forty and run through the slush, all the while berating myself for not just paying the fine and being done with it.
For one brief moment, I had this vision of myself, arriving late to traffic court to sit amongst thieves and drug dealers so that I could go before a court of the law and lie about my son’s toilet habits, all to get out of paying a relatively minor fine for breaking a well-posted speed limit. How far had I sunk? What kind of a role model was I for my children? Good god.
I slipped through the courtroom doors at 8:35. My bottom had barely hit the bench when the judge called for those whose last names began with A-B to please stand and form a line. I looked around. I was the only person who had dressed up. Also, I didn’t see any cops. I started to feel my confidence return. The judge was calling the people one at a time up to the bench and then dismissing them fairly quickly. It occurred to me that both my kids had been ill with an intestinal bug the month before. In fact, now that I thought about it, there was one bodily emergency that would qualify as more urgent than having to pee and that would be...
“Ms. Brumm, please approach the bench.”
I did, and the judge asked me if I wanted to pay the fine or contest and I heard myself saying that I wanted to contest the charges. “Very well,” he said, “step to the side.” I did, and a nice lady handed me a slip of paper saying my court date was for 1:00 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2010.
New flags: 16
Coyote sightings: 1
Vicodin consumed: honestly no idea
PTO accumulation: inadequate
Traffic citations dropped: fuck