. . . the law won.
But I like traffic court very much anyway. It's peaceful there. And quiet.
Like being at the public library. Only more edgy. Or like being at church. Only more relaxing.
Traffic court and church actually have a lot in common. In both places you sit silently looking around at the people in the pews next to you and you think, "I wonder what they're in for?"
At church you can only speculate. At traffic court you're about to find out.
It's an edge-of-your-seat kind of peaceful.
The thing traffic court has over church is law enforcement. At church they tell you what you can and can't do and judge you accordingly. But only in their hearts.
Where's the satisfaction in that!? At least at traffic court you know where you stand.
"Were you going 25 miles per hour?"
"It's the law."
"But I don't like going 25 miles per hour. It's boring. And it makes me itchy."
"It's the law."
"But my car has a sleep disorder and it slips into a coma at 25 miles per hour."
"There is no BUT in the law. Cha-Ching. That'll be $90."
There's a sense of gratification in justice over mercy which I never understood before now. All those years teaching Les Mis and Cry The Beloved Country and Hamlet and The Things They Carried in order to open my student's blinds to the gray matters of morality, and yet I never really understood the true poetry in poetic justice.
I imagine this is what math feels like. There's right and there's wrong, yes and no. What if's and maybe's hold no sway. It's either 25 m.p.h. or it's not. And anything over 25 m.p.h. costs $90.
Math is predictable like that.
Life is a lot like math if you think about it. Only without the lawyers. There are no lawyers in math because it's completely objective--right always prevails over wrong. But life is tricky, so life needs lawyers.
At traffic court the prosecuting lawyer takes you aside, into a room, just the two of you. You and him. You sit down at a little table while he towers over you with his suit jacket open so you can get a glimpse of his gun. He looks straight at you, eyeball to eyeball and says, "I hope you don't have anything else planned this afternoon because we have a lot of cases today and this is going to take at least three hours."
While your brain is skimming through your afternoon schedule--meet Marie at 3:00 to laminate Young Women book marks . . . soccer practice at 4:00 . . . dinner, pick up twins, take Young Women to Carl Bloch exhibit at 5:30--he starts offering a plea bargain.
He strongly recommends you take the deal. And so does his gun.
He starts throwing out big, scary words, like misdemeanor and criminal and violation of section 41-6a-601.
And then comes the if you lose part. If you lose there will be more than helk to pay. There will be $$$ and traffic points to pay.
Unless you take the deal.
"But what about my light sabers?" You say. "What about my ensemble cast waiting in the wings to sing me out of this ticket? What about Victoria's Secret?"
The prosecuting lawyer just shakes his head side to side. "It's the law," he says.
It's not his fault. He's a prosecuting lawyer, and they do math. That's what they do.
I liked the judge very much though. There was something familiar about him, like someone I don't know, but who I see every so often. Maybe once a year in a Christmas card. My best friend from the hood's hub, perhaps. The one who writes poetry about his flu symptoms, then sends it out to everyone he loves with a final thought about the real reason for the season.
He had very kind eyes that spoke to me--exactly the sort of eyes a judge should have when he's about to ask you what you plead.
"Guilty, your honor."
Are you sure? his eyes said. But what about the light sabers. And what about your ensemble cast waiting in the wings? 24601! Remember!? Are you just going to go like a lamb to the slaughter without even asking me for mercy?
It's the law, my eyes said back.
Ironically, his eyes didn't ask me about Victoria's Secret. He was above that sort of nonsense.
But even a judge isn't above the law.