Sunday, October 19, 2008

His Honour

First of all happy Monday, this week will no doubt be an outstanding one! I (Steve) was suppose to be in Tulsa with my adorable bride, but sadly it was not to be, all the flights that were available to me were sold out or overweight. So I had resigned myself to a most boring weekend at home, I scheduled a training session with this Marine recruit I am working with (he is training to pass a most difficult swim test) for 6AM on Saturday. After I was done with him I decided I needed to work in the yard. I got a hot fire going and burned all the unnecessary foliage, I transplanted a couple of plants (Surpirse Amy!!!), and I pulled weeds, I rototilled the flower garden, edged the lawn, washed the driveway, killed ants, pruned the trees, and cleaned the hot tub. I was pretty tired when all of this was done at about 1PM so I was looking to forward to getting cleaned up and relaxing the rest of the day in the living room.

Just then my phone rang, it was work and my services were needed. The schedule they assigned me is six days away from home, which would normally be unacceptable, but since Amy is away it works out, this time anyway. The only problem is I wouldn't have worked myself into a stooper had I known I was going to have to do more work in the evening.

After ranting a little about the neighborhood children in my last post I was thinking of when I was a kid and all the crazy stuff I did. I certainly did some things that I'm sure embarrassed my parents to no end. I decided I shall start a new series, I have quite a list of fun stories to tell -- oh man I'm getting red in the face just thinking of some of the shenanigans I pulled.

But for now the story of my first speeding ticket. I was working for a Church and had been called in the middle of the night to fix a water leak at the pastor's home. I had a buddy with me, and we were done with the small repair within about 30 minutes. On the way home (in a church vehicle mind you) I was driving through a small town named Bixby in Oklahoma. It was nearly midnight and the road was pretty empty. I honestly don't know how fast I was going, but anyone who has ridden with me knows I'm not a big fan of the accelerator. When I was learning to drive anything more than a half inch depression on the gas pedal got a stern exclamation from my Grandfather "There goes another gallon of gas, right out the tail pipe, you'll learn when you pay for gas...." He had lots of sayings, one of my favorites was at the bowling alley "Right for the gutter, you aimed that ball right for the gutter!" My cousins and I heard that one quite often, ever the encouraging one. Anyway the point is I wasn't driving fast or reckless so when I saw flashing lights ahead I thought nothing of it.

As I neared the flashing lights I realized that the police department of Bixby had set up roadblocks at every road of a four way stop. They had quite the set-up, there were portable light units, at least fifteen tow trucks lined up, and about seven police cars. I honestly thought to myself, 'These guys are serious about catching drunk drivers, I sure am glad they are here!' Once I reached the officer in my lane I handed him my drivers license as requested which was from Utah. He took immediate attitude and scoffed at my out of state license with an inquiry as to why. I explained that I was a student, to which he wanted proof. Then he asked "Why are you in such a hurry?" My jaw fell open a little, I was so astonished at his line of questioning. I responded "Excuse me?" "Why were you speeding?" "I wasn't aware that I was." "Yep, you were going at least 45 and this is a 35 zone!" He goes on to explain that he isn't giving me a ticket for the out of state license but is for speeding, and tells me to pull around the corner.

I wait for about ten minutes and nobody comes to issue the said ticket, there is so much going on at this intersection these people actually forgot about me. Eventually someone comes and asks why I am there. I stupidly tell them I was waiting for a speeding ticket. I get the ticket and move on. Over the next few days I begin to stew over the chain of events that took place that evening, I didn't believe that anyone actually used a radar device on me, I began to realize that these Police Officers were just making things up as cars arrived at the road block. There was just too much activity to be that organized, I mean for crying out loud they forgot why I was pulled over to begin with.

I went back to the scene and quickly learned that there were no posted speed limit signs anywhere on the road where I was pulled over until after the said intersection, and then the speed limit was 45. I decided I had a case and was headed to court. I learned that I could choose not to pay the fine, and instead appear before the judge to plead my case, the court date was on the ticket. The day finally came, I was ready with pictures, an affidavit from the guy that was riding with me, and Google Earth satellite imagery of the area in question. I went all out, I get dressed and leave work early one day to go win my case.

I arrive at the ridiculously small City Hall/Courthouse/Police Station/Jail. And much to my surprise the building is all but abandoned. I go in the court room to see an empty room with no lights on. As I wander around the building a little more I realize that undoubtedly the Officer wrote the wrong date on the ticket. I check it again to make sure and then realize to my horror that I am actually the one who made an error, my court date was last week. I find the Police Dispatcher and ask him what I need to do, and most importantly is there a warrant for my arrest for failure to appear?

He is nice enough and assures me that there was in fact no warrant, but I had a failure to appear hearing the following week. So the date comes and I learn that my boss also has a summons to appear at the same hearing I am headed too. We carpool and walk into the courtroom which is filled beyond capacity. We hear that the prosecutor is meeting with some people to negotiate plea bargains, but sadly we don't have an opportunity to meet with him before the court is called to order. Enter 'His Honour'.

This little bald man introduces himself as Judge Studeny, and begins to go over the litany of rules for his courtroom. He proceeded to explain (which I still see as unconstitutional) that when we were called to the front and read the charge our response was to be either guilty or no contest. He told everyone that if they dared to plea not guilty the consequences would be severe; he would require a jury trial, and when we were ultimately found guilty he would order us to pay all costs associated with the trail including the jury wages etc. Anyway at this point I am dumbfounded, I feel like I am on a TV show or something. Judge Studeny then begins a short monologue about the consequences cellular telephones making any noises whatsoever in his courtroom.

He explains that if any phone or pager rings for any reason, no matter the excuse. The owner will be promptly arrested for contempt of court, put in jail for ten days, and fined $700. Good grief!!! -- so my boss and I are frantically attempting to remove the batteries from our phone should there be some fluke and an unsuspecting alarm that might go off. I can't get my battery out and actually consider smashing my phone under my chair leg, this is how terrified I am of Judge Studeny.

It turns out this hearing had nothing to do with me trying to prove my speeding ticket invalid, no no, instead this hearing was all about trying to skip out on paying the fine. I go to the bench when my name is called, plead guilty as directed, and then pay my now doubled fine.

I tell the story frequently, especially the part about the cell phones, because I just thought it was so outrageous. Time goes on and I begin to forget about Judge Studeny, then it happened. My last semester in college and a required class -- Aviation Law. I sit in the front row as usual, and see a stoic short, bald professor sitting in front of me, looking down his nose at the class of what he no doubt sees as misfits. The clock reaches the start time, and the professor begins to talk, about -- you guessed it --- cell phones! -- The moment he speaks, I literally gasp, so loudly that a few heads turn. I realize, it's him!! It turns out his hatred for cell phones goes far beyond the court room and into the classroom. He explains that if any cell phone goes off for any reason during the semester the owner of the phone will fail the course and have to repeat it.

We all hate cell phones at one point or another in our daily lives, but seriously, Judge Studeny please lighten up on the phone rules, its okay. People aren't out to get you with their phone, they aren't trying to be disrespectful or is some way pull one over on you. They just forgot to turn it off. Its true that your threatening tactics probably work well to mitigate any accidental ringings. But in the end life is too short to make such a big deal about what amounts to an inconsequential stupid thing. Don't sweat the small stuff -- its just a phone.

2 comments:

Valerie said...

That's a crazy story about your speeding ticket. Typical Oklahoma. :)

LunarWorld said...

You have had the most interesting life.

I also showed up on the wrong day for court once. Just one day late, and unfortunately, there was a warrant for my arrest.

Gotta love small town police and judicial systems.