So now that I'm committed to fighting the ticket I got while trying to get help from a cop - I have to go to court. The court system is really streamlined in Marin.
Get a notice - appear in court at 8am. I did. It only took 1 hour!
Wait in line to get a time to appear before a judge. I did. But I had to wait another hour, a speedy trial right? No.
The clerk asked why I was there and what I was pleading. I told her. She told me that cyclists are really annoying and they run stop signs all the time and they ride in the road and sometimes you can't get by them in a car. She said I probably deserved having the guy threaten me from his car. I asked if it was ok to say he wanted to kill me, if running a stop sign made it ok to do that. She said, well no.
Racing Vineman 70.3 this clerk was not. Eating at Claim Jumper at 5pm she was.
I'm a jerk.
But with 2 hours of waiting in the courthouse what can you do - I tried to work but I somehow found myself next to a gang banger named Abel probably because his parents got the story mixed up - not because they hoped that he'd be, ...well...... 'able'.
Note: the chances of sitting next to a gang banger who got in trouble with the law in Marin.... are lets say.... 'strong'. Like 5 out of every 4 seats strong.
Abel wanted to know 'what I was in for' - I wanted to say for shooing a cop, but I said for running a stop sign on a bicycle. He acted like he understood. Don't forget that Abel is dressed as he would every other day - for comfort and to scare the hell out of white women and to intimidate other gangs. I was wearing some alligator loafers, French jeans and a lovely white oxford and cashmere 1/4/ zip sweater. We were ready to nail it.
Since I knew I wasn't going to escape a conversation - I tried to keep it relevant. I told him I carried a gun when I rode my bike in Seattle because I was threatened so much on back-roads. He wanted to know what I had. It's an Intrec 9, sort of a knock off of a Glock 9mm except it doesn't have the muzzle flare of a Glock.
He said he wanted the gun Samuel Jackson had 'in that movie' I didn't see the movie, but knew the gun.
Yeah, that gun is cool for scaring people but it wouldn't fit in my bike jersey I said. Plus it was heavy and I probably couldn't shoot it straight.
He wanted to know if I shot anyone ever. No. Not that I remembered.
He said he girlfriend shot 2 people once, firing randomly into a crowd. I said that was cool. Sometimes crowds make you want to do that.
He wanted to know where I lived. Tiburon.
Oh yeah he said, I worked in Sausalito once (it's 2 towns over). That's like asking if you've been to Europe and then saying you once watched Mary Poppins, I mean - it's pretty close. But not really.
He wanted to know what phone I had. I work for Microsoft I told him, so I have a Windows Mobile phone. He said he wanted an iPhone.
He then said he wanted a Playstation 3, I said, I have an Xbox360. He wanted to know if I played a lot of shooting games, cause his roommate did. I said no, with 2 kids I mostly just use the feature on Xbox that allows you to stream your Netflix videos. I had to explain Netflix. He thought it was a cool idea that you didn't have to go to the video store. I also said I usually watch a lot of Disney princess related movies. He had no idea what I meant.
He then wanted to know if I had seen Afro Samurai. It was full of killing and blood and guts. Awesome I said.
He said it was an animae film and for once in my life I said I loved animae.
I hate it but I didn't want Abel to kill or jack me or do something that would have messed with my French jeans. I live a sheltered live and watch MSNBC after 9pm sometimes to see all of those 'inside ______ prison'. I'd last 2-3 seconds in a prison - or maybe I'd start a track team. I just assume that if his girlfriend will fire into a crowd that the guy with the Windows Mobile phone is pretty much the easiest lunch money he'd ever steal.
I pointed to the wall and said I could hit that phone jack with my gun. He went back to telling me about that gun that Samuel Jackson had. Man it would be cool to have that. I said he could probably make a lot of people crap their pants but that he probably would have a hard time concealing it.
I then made the mistake of telling him that I could carry my gun legally.
Loaded? Yes. Loaded.
Concealed pistol license. What?
Good lord. I had done it.
I explained. I went into how states sometimes had reciprocal gun laws and that I could carry a concealed gun in a whole lot of states. But that big silver gun - not easy to conceal. Plus it was heavy. I should have said how I voluntary went into a police station and got fingerprinted and registered with the feds and stuff. But I didn't want to get into it.
This kept going for another half hour. I know where he works, that he naps a work, that they sell all sorts of products for homes - like pipes and lumber. If I needed any for my house, I should go there. I explained I had a rental and was moving anyhow.
Fast forward to 10am. My time in court.
30 other people had 10am. They called 5 at a time. People with kids or who needed a translator went first.
It turned out most folks didn't have a driver's license, registration, insurance and they all seemed to be going well over 80mph in a 65 zone. These people all had $1,300+ fines.
The judge would only hear 'guilty' pleas. 'Non Guilty' meant you went in a different line AFTER seeing the judge and then you got a date to present evidence.
I got into the 3rd group. Still with 25 or so folks behind me. I was the only person with a fine less than $800 - mine was $164 and I was the only one who had an infraction while on a bicycle. I plead not guilty and I was done. Except I had to go wait in another line.
For 30 more minutes.
Turns out Abel was supposed to do community service. He had 2 years to do it but didn't. He owed about $1,600. The judge asked him what he was going to do. He asked for community service. The judge, like Judge Judy, railed on him for 10 minutes (I was waiting in line and had nothing else to do but witness this judicial wrath). He ended up having 2 weeks to come up with the money or jail but they say it all nice like 'remanded'. I still think that means jail.
Note: you can pay off fines at $10 an hour with community service or spend a day in jail at the value of $100 a day. I could have chosen jail for 1.64 days.
Now on 5/18 at 2pm I have my day in court. 4.5 hours later. I saw Abel leave. I did feel bad, but he did have 2 years to come up with the money or do the service.
I won't even go into the guy who was 35 who was wearing the FBI sweatshirt who rode his BMX bike to court because he couldn't get the court to reinstate his license - he owed $900 for 2 years. I would have spent less money on hair product and more on paying the fine. Then again, he did look like his hair hadn't even been touched by the wind.
I also learned that fighting a ticket by saying 'I didn't think I was going that fast' does not work one bit. But I saw 3 people try it. I thought for sure the judge would have been worn down by that one.