Or, “The two-and-a-half hours I wasted last night.”
A bit of background: at the end of March my dog slipped through the gate and ran across the street to round up the neighbors’ little yappy mutts; my dog is a Sheltie, in other words, he stands about knee high and his job is to herd.
Neighbor totally freaked out, screaming like a banshee – she even claims that my dog “had a look in his eyes, he wanted to kill, and he’s HUGE!” Whatever. Let’s put it this way: she shrieks so loud at her yappy mutts that I can hear her all the way across a wide street, up a sloping lawn, with the windows shut, AND with the air conditioner running. Now, that’s LOUD.
In the midst of all this chaos, in about two seconds’ time, my dog nipped the rear end of one of her mutts. Mother of pearl, you would have thought the world had ended. We immediately got our dog back inside the house and I ran across the street to see how I could help.
Neighbor was nuts, crying, pacing, and the dogs hid under the bed. I wanted to, as well. So I held her dog while she dumped half a bottle of peroxide on his butt – after I coaxed the dumb thing out from under the bed – and I told her I thought he’d be just fine. I do, after all, have quite a bit of experience dealing with animals. Of course, I realize they ARE animals.
At any rate, I helped her find the vet’s number, she was still hysterical fifteen minutes later. She called the vet and the vet said the dog would likely be fine, just watch the booboo for a couple days. She insisted on bringing the mutt in for a visit, for which I offered to pay.
About an hour later, she returned home; ironically, the other dog was riding in the back window of her car – real safe, huh, for a “precious pet”? I went over and got the bill – some $60.00. The next day I dropped off a check.
Meanwhile, her husband came home. He called the police. Yep, called the cops on my dog. Loser. Whatever. They came, they talked, they left. That was it.
TWO MONTHS later, Animal Control shows up and writes me THREE tickets: non-current shots (it expired two days before the bite), dog-at-large, and nuisance dog. Sheesh. Twenty-five dollars each.
So I mailed them in, with a check. To the court – they’re tickets, right? About a month later, I got them back, with the check, and a summons to appear. Huh? Turns out, even though the Animal Control officer said to mail them to the court, the tickets said to mail them to Animal Control. Ooookay.
I did have to ask for a continuance, for two weeks, since my daughter was coming in town the night of the original date. It wasn’t a problem.
Court was at 7:00 p.m. I arrived at ten till. There were, no kidding, at least 80 people there; by the time the judge entered, 100, easily. I was told he heard all the cases of those who were accompanied by attorneys first; unbelievably, even if attorneys were late, they were allowed to jump in line at any time throughout the long, tortuous evening.
Another nice court rule was “no cell phones”; I was told that if your phone made any noise whatsoever, the judge would fine you $250. Well, okay, I guess I understand the noise part – but basically you’re expected to sit in a hard plastic chair, shoulder-to-shoulder with um, unusual people, for hours and hours, with absolutely nothing to do.
If we could have heard the disposition of some of the cases, it might at least have been entertaining.
After the attorney representations, the judge moves down the rows on the right-hand side of the room; you all get up, file to the side, and wait in line. Like queuing for Communion.
I was seated on the left-hand side, naturally, about five rows back. You do have assigned seats, as per the bailiff. Fortunately, you can get up and leave for a few minutes and come back in, as long as you’re willing to be waved over with the wand and have your purse checked. No big deal.
I would wager that probably half of the individuals present were young guys, teens to early 30s, wearing droopy jeans, t-shirts, scruffy facial hair, and baseball caps, which of course they removed. There were a few older individuals, men in suits and ties, and women dressed nicely; a fair sprinkling of teenage girls in painted-on jeans, cracking their gum. And a few middle-age women who tried desperately to emulate them.
After thirty minutes, my rear end went numb. After an hour, I was seriously considering leaving; in fact, while on a smoke break, I asked a couple of the “veterans” what exactly would happen if I did.
One told me that, if I didn’t answer when they called my name, the judge would issue an arrest warrant – but the police wouldn’t actively search for me, just arrest me if they happened to pull me over at some point. Nice. Good to know.
By the time the judge started on the right-hand side of the room, the air condition stopped cycling on and off as much and it was possible to hear a few of the cases and verdicts:
There were DWIs, some with fines, some not; some were ordered to take classes. Lack of insurance, trespassing, reckless driving, speeding. Oh, and the “expert”, seated next to me, was charged with stealing; he’d been here several times already and received a $100 fine.
Then it was my turn. I was dressed appropriately, spoke clearly and concisely, was polite, and addressed the judge as “Your Honor”. He fined me $600.
I found out later that it wasn’t the highest charge imposed that night, but it was in the top ten. Really? Because my dog, ONE TIME, got out and nipped the neighbor’s yappy little frou-frou dog?? That’s worse than a DWI? Or theft? What is this judge smokin’??
Even the multi-timers were stunned.
The judge was most concerned that I hadn’t IMMEDIATELY taken the dog for his shots, and that I’d received a ticket because of lack of those shots – of course, the ticket was because the damn things had expired TWO DAYS prior to the incident.
He cared not a whit that it took two months for Animal Control to issue the tickets, that I’d helped the neighbor in any way possible, or that I’d tried to pay by mail and had some idiot return my check to me.
Betcha he has a yappy little mutt too, and drives around with it in his lap. Probably spoon-feeds it from the table, sharing silverware. My God, I thought judges were supposed to be smart and educated – this one just proves that neither quality is required for the bench. Of course, I understand he’s been there for almost 20 years, overseeing his own little kingdom.
Still haven’t told my husband. Hope he doesn’t read this. Maybe I should get a defib machine on stand-by.