Today has just not been my day. I'll give you some history. Exactly one week ago, I woke up one night to discover a scratchy throat and a slight fever - this situation rapidly turned into the flu - a new strain! I'm exposed to just about every infectious disease known to man in the ER where I work; however I always expect my own personal immune system to defeat those germs like bands of little green army men. So all weekend, when I had three straight days off, I basically laid around and did nothing since I felt so cruddy. Then I worked two twelve hour shifts in a row Tuesday and Wednesday night - not so much patient drama, thank goodness, but still long hours and little sleep. This morning, instead of sleeping in until 2, I had to report to traffic court. I say 'had to' but I could have just paid the fine for my school zone speeding ticket. If you know me, then you know I cannot just accept this $200 insult to my already meager financial situation! So I go to traffic court at the municipal court in Athens-Clarke county. There I'm greeted by about 200 or so other various members of the public who are also carrying their little crumpled tickets. Some of them are afraid, some of them are annoyed, all of us are impatient. I get there early because one of the police officers I interrogated in the ER one night about how I should proceed with this situation said I should. Did not help. The judge was late so we got started late, but a mere two and a half hours later I was done.
You see, the unfairness of my particular ticket is that I got it in a school zone, but I feel that the school zone is not marked well at all. There are three 55 mph signs on the side of the road, all in a row in about a three mile stretch of road. Then all of a sudden there's a tiny 45 mph sign with two small flashing lights hung from a line stretched over the road. Not where you're used to looking for the signs right? And there are no warning signs for the impending school zone either. Add the sun in my eyes and my visor down and you get recipe for destruction! I did not see that sign!
We sit in the courtroom and I am shushed twice by the deputy for talking - one other lady gets in trouble for reading a book: "there's no reading in the courtroom ma'am!" We are herded in like cattle, then herded back out. There are deputies working the line shouting, "does anybody want to just go ahead and pay their fine now?" This can get you a spot in the front of the line! Cell phones have to be turned off, lest you pay an additional $25 fine. So we are all sitting/standing there in various stages of deep thought, panic, and boredom. Everybody has that defeated look. Just shoot me, we'd say if we could. After an hour and a half of waiting, I get to the front of the line where another lady in a business suit tries to talk me out of taking this matter any further by telling me that the solicitor won't do anything to help me because my ticket is in a school zone. My grandmother always said I was rather "bull-headed" and I display this trait perfectly today by politely insisting that I would still like to speak with the solicitor. I am told to go back into the courtroom and sit. A few minutes later I realize that they are now printing off my driving history to give to the solicitor. A few seconds of horrible thoughts flash through my mind: when was my last speeding ticket? Will all of my Warnings be listed? I imagine myself as a dead duck with $200 cash splayed out in my hand for anyone to take. No! I shake it off. Even with the flu, I'm gonna push forward, undeterred. Finally the small woman in a suit who is the solicitor calls my name, pulls me out into the hall because she says, "I don't normally reduce these fines so I don't want anyone to hear us talking." She's actually quite nice. I plead my case in my weak, congested voice - tell her I didn't see the sign - tell her I actually shot video of me driving that stretch of road again but the cops at the courthouse entrance wouldn't allow me to bring the camera in. (I think about telling her that I'm blind in the eye on top of my head.) But I don't have to; she seems sympathetic. I mention taking my child to a play date that day; going the different road that I'd not taken in a while. I know the mention of a child will stir her - I've already heard her mention her kids. She knows that stretch of road and feels my pain. She lowers my speed so that I won't have any points on my license and she lowers the fine by $50. For a quick second I consider a jury trial, but she's being so nice that I take the deal. I am escorted to the cashier and I pay my fine and leave. Thankfully when I got back out to the car I didn't have a parking ticket even though the meter was expired! I go home not feeling victorious but not feeling quite so stepped on either. These speeding tickets are a CASH COW for the county. I'd love to know how many millions of dollars they take in every year.
I get home, crash in bed and sleep. Hal and Sarah arrive home from school and the doctor's office (yea, medicine!). Sarah is so excited to see me that she wants to jump in my arms. We usually say 1-2-3 and on 3 she jumps and I pick her up and we exchange those sloppy all over the face kisses that mommies and daughters do. But today she was so excited she did not wait for the count of three and jumped the top of her head right into my bottom lip. So I'm out money for the ticket, money for the medicine and doctor's visit, and I have a busted, bloody sore lip to boot. At least I have the next six days off.