Friday, September 24, 2010

I Fought The Law and The Law.....

Musical accompaniment to the post
a special feature of today's Burrow, just for you!

uploaded by crazybeatlefan to youtube -- recorded for Hullabaloo March 21, 1966
Click the video and let it play in the background as you read my tale of woe,

I'd gone to dinner with Amster and a lady-lawyer-friend of hers that night at the end of May.  We'd gorged on fresh fish and veggies and laughter until 11:30pm... truly a late night for yours truly.  I dropped Amster off at her car and headed for the highway and home.  It was a pretty night  and my windows were down and the air was cooling off and the stars were twinkling.  Tucson has a dark skies policy, so there's only a minimal amount of ambient light;  it's a big black sky out there.  It hadn't rained for months and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  The music was good (I get the community radio station, KXCI,  down there, before the Santa Catalinas interfere with my reception further north) and my belly was full.  The highway was newly reconstructed and the road surface was sweet.  The overhead lighting was clear and bright.  I was singing along, obeying the speed limit, in the 2nd lane from the left.  

The Schnozz has a big blind spot and I know it.  I'm vigilant about checking those back corners even when I'm not planning to change lanes.  Daddooooo always told me to watch the space around me when I drove (the Cuters and I called it our cone of silence.... why, I do not know)  and that lesson was learned.  Sure enough, there in the 3rd lane, hanging on my bumper, was a brownish goldish sedan.  I sped up just a touch to put space between us.  He sped up as well.  I slowed down.  He slowed down.  He never got closer or farther but he never went away, either.  After a mile of this, I began to worry.

A stalker?  I'm alone in the middle of the night on the highway.  Scary thoughts began to crowd into my head.  I began to think of the nearest exit with a 24hour gas station on the corner, of where the closest police substation might be.  I'd maneuver myself into the right lane and drive to a safe place as fast as I could.  I'd be fine. Sweating but breathing, I felt better.  I had a plan.

At the top of a rise in the road, with level pavement and no exits or entrances or other cars in sight, I hit the gas.  The Schnozz took off like a champ, I put on my right turn signal, looked in the rear view mirror to be sure I'd surprised the stalker and left him in my dust, and was rewarded by a Sheriff's Department cruiser flashing his blue lights.  I wasn't alone.  I relaxed and pulled over.


Deputy Diamond came to my window and I greeted him with "Thank you for coming to save me."  Flummoxed, he responded with "I thought you were racing."   Racing, sez I?  Racing? Had he seen that car on my tail for a mile or more?  Did he have any idea of how scared I was?  I was flabbergasted that he thought it was appropriate to punish me for trying to keep myself safe.  

"You were going 15 miles over the speed limit, Ma'am."

"Yes, I was. But I wasn't speeding, Officer.  I was accelerating."

Now, TBG tells me that speed limits are something called black letter law.  That seems to mean that there's no room for interpretation. "65 means 65, sweetie."  Apparently, my intentions are immaterial.  But I didn't know that at the time.  At the time, it seemed important that the officer know how scared I was.  I told him, again, that the other car had been following me and making me very nervous.  I asked him why, if he thought we were racing, he had pulled me and me alone over to the side of the road?   

"Because I could only stop one of you." 

I just had to laugh.  I was a victim of automobile profiling.  Amidst the brouhaha over SB 1070 and racial profiling, I'd been pulled over because I drive a speedy little car.  


I was bitter but polite.  I told Officer Diamond I would see him in court and I moseyed on home.  Slowly. Carefully. Deliberately. And well within the speed limit... even the 25mph sign on the never-seen-another-car-on-it-road.  TBG was properly sympathetic but my happy mood had been sullied.  I could hardly wait for my court date in July.


Two weeks before that court date, I was rescheduled and reassigned.  My new date was September 23 at 3pm. Two more months of driving on a ticket and there was nothing I could do but wait.  So I did.  

And then it was yesterday.  For four months I'd been rehearsing my performance and suddenly it was Opening Night.  I was stoked.  I chose the proper outfit - not too dressed up but more than jeans and flip flops.  I wanted to be taken seriously but I didn't want to look uppity.  This is Tucson, after all, and I'm not a snowbird.  This is my home and I was partaking of its justice system and I wanted to look like I belonged.  Heels in my purse, I left the Schnozz in the parking garage and walked, in my flip flops, through the Courthouse's pink archways and up the outside curving stairway, through security and down the hallway to Courtroom 2.  I was an hour early.


The room looked like a Shaker Meeting Room.  The benches were wooden pews, without adornment or comfort.  There was no barrier between the audience and the tables for the accused and the accuser and the Hearing Officer's bench was uninspired as well.  But I cannot call it uninspiring.  There was something about the whole situation that demanded respect.  The H.O. was decades younger than I, and his clerk younger still, and yet there was a majesty to the proceedings that was undeniable.  When a case was called a digital clock with bright red numbers turned on.  When the case was settled, it turned off.  I saw this happen only once, since there was only one case in the 2 o'clock hour. I read my book and waited for 3pm.


A Sheriff's deputy and a Tucson Police Officer brought themselves and their weaponry into our quiet little space a little before the hour.  A 20something and her mother, a 30something woman with a newspaper, and a pony-tailed kid who really should have stopped smoking dope before he got dressed for court made up the rest of our merry band.  The clerk asked each of us our names, and the H.O. acknowledged that I had been waiting and that Officer Diamond was not in the courtroom.  Would I wait 10 minutes to give him a chance to arrive?  They'd take one case, and then it would be my turn.  


I could hardly contain myself.


The 20something's reasoning that it was the rain and not her driving ability that caused her to slam into the car in front of her didn't cut it with the court.  The deputy said she should have left more space and the H.O. agreed and she was fined and she said she'd pay and then he got the officer and the pony-tail settled into their chairs as he invited me up to his bench.  The clock turned on, he read my case number aloud and then it was : No, Officer Diamond is not in the courtroom, the case is dismissed without prejudice and if the Officer doesn't resubmit the paperwork within 90 days it all goes away.  No, he didn't want to hear my defense, because if the paperwork is resubmitted it would appear that I had testified already and that just could not be.  I took my paperwork, printed right there on the clerk's desk, and I was done.


And y'know what, denizens?  I'm peeved. Even though the H.O. said it was "highly unlikely, given my experience"  that the case will be reinstated, I have to wait 90 days, almost til Christmas, for this to be finished.  And worse, I didn't get to tell my side of the story.  Sure, the Cuters and TBG and Amster and the Crayolas and G'ma all agree that I am right and blameless but somehow that is just not enough.  I guess I need to hear it from an official representative of the state which wrongly accused me.  Now, I am left to wonder if the officer forgot, or if he was involved in an undercover operation which could not be jeopardized or if my case was so insignificant that he decided to blow it off or if he knew he was wrong and so gave up before we began.  All this uncertainty is making me just a little bit antsy.  


And he has 90 more days to exert control over my existence... even longer if I consider the new trial date.  The cards are not stacked in my favor; had I not appeared in court they'd have issued a warrant for my arrest.  I've enjoyed trading on this story all summer long, but I'm ready for it to be finished once and for all.  Alas, as I told the Cuters, you can't always get what you want....


I can't decide... what's the answer to my initial question? Did The Law win? Somehow, I fought The Law and The Law decided to ignore the fact doesn't pack the same punch.

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