Today’s my 2nd anniversary with Los Angeles and frankly, I’m not sure who wears the pants in this relationship.
GUYS! CHECK IT OUT!
For those of you in the LA area, my friend and fellow Colorado native, Alison Tafel, is doing a sketch show with a few other funny ladies and it’s FO FREE at the Comedy Central Stage on April 30th! All you gotz ta do is RSVP and you’re in for a full night of some Girl-on-Girl laughs.
And, the always relevant…
(A follow-up entry to My First Speeding Ticket)
There’s an old saying that high expectations lead to low results. Well, it’s not really an old saying so much as a mantra I use before entering a fitting room, or when dating. I recently had a date with the Van Nuys traffic court for a speeding ticket pulled straight out of Imagination Land aka Officer Stupid Face’s arse.
Armed with just my morning coffee and script supervisor’s recollection of the event, I marched into that courthouse ready to wipe my slate clean. About a half-hour passed before I marched right back out to put more money in my meter. For others who have never been to court, just know, when they tell you 8 AM, don’t expect that to mean you have your own special tea time with the judge. The 8 AM is a meeting time for you and 40 other disgruntled traffic violators, and let me tell you, LA county has a lot a kooky characters.
People of all races, job fields, and levels of physical attractiveness came together in that hallway, comparing violations and previewing their rehearsed objections. I almost joined in and shared as well, but though it best in this waiting hall to hide my gift of gab, like in Hunger Games. One stalky woman stomped around, shouting into her phone how ridiculous this whole thing was, how she had written proof that she wasn’t speeding. Perhaps she wasn’t intentionally making sure the entire floor could hear, but I’m pretty sure this is where the expression “Tell it to the judge” came from. I saw another woman, clearly on her way to work, wearing Baby Phat scrubs. I didn’t even know Baby Phat made scrubs but it’s good to know them nurses are keepin’ it real in style. A few others expressed how badly they hoped their cop wouldn’t show up so they could be dismissed. I’m no lawyer, but if I was, I would proudly point out that a real innocent would have nothing to hide. Then there was a young woman in a head-to-toe bright pink sweatsuit tapping her toe and glaring out the window at the cops entering the building.
"I sure know what Phillips’ face look like. If I see his ass, he in for a rude awakening," like a comic book villain instilling fear in all cops who dare cross the path of bright pink velour.
Over in another corner, a man foolishly revealed to his clique that he was a paralegal. Suddenly, the room swarmed around him, pressing him for legal advice.
With that, I realized I was just as lost as the rest of these folks. I could tell we all prepared basically prepared the same story to pitch to the same people who heard the same damn thing 80 times a day (there were another 40 in the afternoon session). What made me think I was so special?
I did what any adult does in panic mode and called my mommy, mainly because she works in a court house and could give me tips, but also because she’s my mommy. She talked me down a bit, told me not to worry, and no matter what, things would go fine. “And if they don’t, I’ll send you a cake with a saw in it.” Classic Mom.
We filed into the court house; all phones, tablets, and beepers, they specified, were to be turned off. No talking, no sleeping, no gum. It was much like school if school scared you absolutely shitless.
Not guilty, I reminded myself. Remember, you’re not guilty. I repeated it in my head as though it was my new shopping and dating mantra. A no-nonsense officer listed off the rules and code of conduct for the judge. Our options were “guilty,” “not guilty” and “no contest.” The first and the last options there are synonymous. Not guilty. You’re. Not. Guilty.
He called attendance for us, followed by attendance for the officers. Stupid Face was present, unfortunately. The Phillips guy, on the other hand, was not, and the Pink Velour Panther was free to go. Lucky bitch. I got to speak with my officer, where he showed me papers detailing the speed limit of the road I was on, and the manufacturing of the radar he used to clock me. That’s great, I thought. But I’m not guilty, Stupid Face. I almost gave him my whole story right then and there, but then remembered, Hunger Games, Lauren. Wait til we’re in the ring.
They called my name, and No Nonsense asked me how I intended to plead. “Not Guilty!” That exclamation point is misleading, however there’s just no punctuation available to describe a nervously whispered voice crack.
“You heard when I said there are very few successful “not guilty”s, right? Even with witnesses and photographed evidence. You realize should you lose with a not guilty, you forfeit your options for traffic school and a lowered fine?”
“Yes,” I squeaked. I’m not guilty. Look at this face, these eyes, this school teacher cardigan. How could I be guilty?
The judge called me to the stand. She skimmed through my paperwork, hassled me about not having a California License, then offered to lower my fine by $160 plus traffic school if I plead guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty.
I took a deep breath. “N—-no contest.” And that was that. I was dismissed, slightly less poor than when I went in, but slightly more chicken. Maybe it was what No Nonsense said to me about the success rate. Maybe I just felt it was the easy way out. Whatever it was, the lesson was learned. I drove home at five under the speed limit. Next stop, online traffic school. And maybe someday I’ll get a CA license.
I’m ne’re a ne’re-do-well, which is not to say that I’m perfect. I got straight A’s in high school, with a few gay B’s here and there, and I only got detention once, which I took like a pro, assuming it’s possible to be a pro in detention. But one thing I won’t take sitting down is a speeding ticket.
Back in February, I was on my way to a film shoot in Van Nuys. At the time I lived in Koreatown, where everyone drives like they suffer from a mixture of legal blindness and tourettes (this, by the way, is not racial profiling, as Koreatown has a flourishing Latino population). Four months in Koreatown, and you’ll be convinced there’s no such thing as a speeding violation, not that this is an issue for me, as I never drive more than 10 over the limit. So, I reached my exit ramp, popped my 2000 Honda Accord “Nimbus” into neutral, and coasted until I reached 45 mph, when I promptly set the cruise control (If this story sounds rehearsed, I assure you, it most definitely is). T’was about five blocks later that I passed Officer Stupid Face’s car (names have been changed), where he proceeded to pull me over and tell me he clocked me at 53 mph.
"Officer, I’m so sorry. I can assure you, both my spedometer and my GPS read no more than 45."
"Can’t always trust a GPS, mam. It’s only an extention of the car. It’s not even attached to the car."
"Neither is your radar gun…"
"Why, I know of someone who drove off a cliff into a lake because their GPS told them to."
I debated taking either the sympathy route or the flirting route, not entirely sure I could pull either off, but fully convinced that neither would be a problem if I was Zooey Deschanel, or Ryan Gosling…whichever appealed to Stupid Face’s fancy most. I handed him my license and registration, throwing in, “Hope these are the right papers. I wouldn’t know; I’ve never been pulled over before,” which is 99.9% true.
"Well, Miss Scharf I find that hard to believe when you’re going 54 in a 35.”
Things hit a record scratching halt. “54? You said 53 earlier.”
"You’re mistaken, mam. Nice try though."
He took my info to his car as I sat in my Nimbus, fuming. Why is he so mean? Why today, of all days? Why can’t he just listen to me? Doesn’t he know I’m a recent graduate with no money in a failing economy? Why couldn’t I be Ryan Gosling like everybody else?
Tears started falling. Genuine, abandoned-puppy-dog tears like the kind you see in Sarah McLachlan commercials, or John Boehner interviews.
Stupid Fat Face returned and I kept the water works going. This oughta do it. But no such luck.
"Unfortunately I can’t be lenient when you’re going more than 20 over.”
Ah-ha, you little bastard. I may not be the best driver/flirter/cryer, but I still know my subtraction skills. “Wait. How is 54 more than 20 over 35?”
“ALMOST more than 20 over. Ok? Almost,” He somewhat corrected his mistake but not really, “You don’t need me to be specific.”
So this is what life is. Just tossing around numbers like an episode of Numberwang (it’s a thing; look it up).
He gave me the ticket he started toward his car when he stopped and said “Oh hey. Just noticed those Colorado plates. You’ll need to get those changed if you plan on sticking around here. Have a good one.”
Oh thank you, observant one. I’ll get right on it. Strange that you didn’t notice those when you pointed your radar gun right square at them to get your oh so accurate read. Not like California’s plates look anything like Colorado’s, but hey, clearly your strengths lie in mathematics, not coloring. I won’t bring it up, especially since it’s your word against mine.
I continued on my day as normal, forced to throw in the towel…for now. But unlike detention, I wasn’t gonna go down/pay $360 smackers plus an additional $90 for traffic school without a fight.
On my next Lauren’s First: My first court date. Stay Tuned.