last friday i went to fight a baltimore city parking ticket. one of many i have racked up over the years. why? b/c when i/we get home after dark i refuse to risk life and limb by parking in a legal spot five blocks away and walking back to our house. i swear, most of the “illegal” spots are just marked “no parking” simply to make money for the city. you city ppl know exactly what i’m talking about. it’s not just baltimore.
well i guess i’d had it a couple months ago. i was slapped with yet another $27 ticket and announced to holly that i was going to fight it.
“babe,” i stated (loudly, as always), holding the damn thing up (more like waving it hysterically). “until this city is safe enough for a woman to walk around at night, i will keep parking in spaces that will keep me from getting killed. or at least mugged.”
she nodded and added a “hell’s yeah.”
it’s the principle of it all, i said. and so i went online and marked that i’d fight the damn thing.
first the city sent me a letter saying they got my request for trial and that i’d be receiving a court date. then i got another letter saying they were about to send me my court date. then, two days later, i got yet another letter announcing my doggone court date. (why is it necessary to waste both paper and money sending letters to say your going to send more letters?! good to know our tax money is funding that. and killing trees.)
anyway, last friday was the hearing. i had to make a special trip back for it b/c i was visiting my family in philly having a blast. so that annoyed me. before i even went to the hearing, i knew it was a stupid decision to fight it. i felt like just paying the damn thing. but no. it was too late. and i knew i was going to lose as soon as i walked in the damn courthouse.
first of all, my car read 118 degrees when i got in it to leave for the trial. when i got to the courtroom, everyone was standing outside of it waiting to get in. apparently, most of the ppl there don’t use dial. or don’t shower. i was like, people! have you even heard of deodorant?! it’s 2010! i thought i might pass out from the smell. it was that bad.
when we were finally herded into the courtroom, we all sat in these pew-like seats that reminded me of synagogue. we stood for the judge, who took her sweet old time coming out. then we all had to sit thru everyone’s “not guilty” pleas. i was dreading my turn. it was like judge judy. except worse b/c i wasn’t watching it on tv, it wasn’t funny and i actually had to participate.
“jessica…leshnif? leshniv? leshnikoff?”
LESHNOFF! fer cryin out loud, lady! two syllables! LESH. NOFF. leshnoff!
i walked up and went up to the stand and swore i’d tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me etc. i pleaded not guilty even tho i knew i was guilty of parking in a spot marked “no parking.”
“is there anything you’d like to tell me?” she said. (she said this to everyone.)
i wanted to tell her that this was all B.S. and i should get the ticket revoked simply b/c i did not smell bad.
“your honor,” i said in a shaky voice, suddenly feeling extremely dorky and uncomfortable, not to mention hot (not howyoudoin hot; hothot, as in: overheating) in my skinny (but dressy) jeans. “this is the manifestation of a larger, ongoing problem.”
then i promptly forgot everything i wanted to say and babbled something about “as a woman, you understand the need to feel safe at night” and so on and so forth. she, of course, cut me off.
“i’ll drop $22 of the fine,” she said, and bam! went the gavel and then they handed me a printout, saying i needed to go to the cashier. i felt like i won in a way, even tho all my nosehairs had been burned out by the surly courtroom crowd’s b.o.
when i got out into the hallway i examined the paper. if i only had $5 left to pay (a $27 ticket minus $22) then WHY did it say i had to pay $27.50? MORE than the ticket itself? i figured there had to be some kind of mistake.
“court costs,” the cashier explained. “this judge is known for them.”
so there i was. wasting time and gas and nice girl time with my mom in philly, not to mention time with my partner on a friday afternoon at home (and we had weekend out-of-town guests arriving in just a couple hours to prepare for), and i owed more than the ticket?!!
“you have got to be kidding me,” i told the cashier.
she sighed in agreement while i wrote the city a check.
that clash song, “i fought the law and the law one” kept playing in my head as i drove home. they will get you one way or another with these damn parking tickets. my advice is to pay the damn things. before they triple the original fine and then you’re left wondering if every cop on the street has a warrant out for your arrest. not that that’s ever happened to me. i’m just saying.