Today, Sara (***NOTE: THE NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE AWKWARD***) had to make an appearance in front of a downtown judge for a summons she received while she was out for a night partying with her friends. She had set her alarm clock the night before to go off at 8:00 AM for an ample amount of time in order to prepare herself for a 9:00 AM hearing. She opened her eyes, yawned, and stretched her arms slowly and calmly being up before her alarm buzzed.
She knew she had to look her very best in the eyes of the judge, who would ultimately decide the outcome of her legalistic fate. Taking her time, she showered with extra shampoo and conditioner, blow-dried her hair to straight perfection and painted her face with makeup so carefully making sure each lash was curled and darkened with mascara.
Her outfit – black dress pants, a button down shirt and fancy cardigan – was hand chosen and eloquently ironed the previous night, while she rehearsed a statement she would use to defend herself if given the chance.
Sara followed the speed limit at 45 mph over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, endured through traffic on the BQE and conquered the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel carefully, but efficiently. She did not want to receive another summons for reckless driving and duplicate a day like today.
Pacing herself, she parked the car, walked to the building, and entered the courtroom. She was the first one in the room filled with pews and a giant podium carved of oak. To the front of the room, stood a red, white and blue American flag beside a blue and orange New York State flag, making the room look ever so official.
The time was approaching 9:00 AM, and, in the back of the room, a line formed of fellow ticket holders waiting to be called. Sara was the head of the parallel line, followed by some casual looking folk mixed with street gremlins, who surely have been through this routine before.
The courtroom fell silent. The person standing next to Sara was a disheveled man in his 30s dressed in cut up jeans with a t-shirt on inside out, and a cigarette tucked behind his ear.
“Can you believe I had to come here all the way from Harlem for a jaywalking ticket?” He asked in his raspy voice hoping that Sara would respond with her ticket information to ease the nerves within a stressful circumstance. Sara just smiled slightly to shut him up. She was not going to share her ticket story.
The woman sitting on the other side of Sara, wearing a t-shirt with paint stains, one red knee high sock and one orange bobby sock jumped right in, “I know! I have to get back to the East Village. I have to go late to work for this moving violation… running a red light… ON A BICYCLE…IN A PARK!!” Sara smiled slightly to shut her up.
“The following persons please step forward,” the bailiff announced deafeningly as he looked at his clipboard of scheduled hearings. “John Dreder. Jay Walking.”
John Dreder stepped out of line like a professional ticket holder and stood in the front pew.
John Dreder made eye contact with the police officer, who gave the ticket, standing right next to him.
“Guilty,” he replied defeated.
“Ok, John, please have a seat until the series of these hearings are finished. Then you can pay the fine and be released.”
“Susan Johnson. Moving Violation,” the bailiff loudly declared.
Susan Johnson stepped out of line and stood in the front pew next to John, the jaywalker.
“Susan Johnson, how do you plead? The judge repeated.
The same police officer in the plaintiff section stood still to await her answer.
“Guilty,” she said quickly in order to get out of there fast and get to her day job.
“Ok, Susan, please have a seat until the next hearing. Then you can pay the fine and be released.”
“Sara Fitzpatrick,” the bailiff stated and paused for what seemed like longer than the other offenders. He looked at Sara, did a double take, and ear-splitting-ly announced her offense, “PUBLIC URINATION.”
Sara stepped out of line as her stomach dropped, with her head down in shame and stood in the front pew next to Susan and John. They both look and move in sync away from her towards the left.
“Sara, how do you plead?”
Her mind raced from being caught completely off-guard by the public announcement. Everything she had recited the night before in order to defend herself had seemed to trickle out of her brain and ego. She dodged eye contact with the police officer and opened her mouth, where nothing came out. Everyone looked to her waiting for a reply, and Sara felt every eye in the room piercing right through her.
“Guilty,” Sara silently replied, “when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.”