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On June 16th, the Many Shades blog will be closed.
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Me, the Miscreant

By A.J. Llewellyn

Current mood: grateful
Category: Life

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am the type of guy who frets over so much as a parking ticket and will do anything to avoid trouble. So, when I was driving through Old Town Pasadena one day and was pulled over by one of the city's er...finest in very dramatic fashion, I was stunned. The cop who ambled over to my car however, was actually very nice.
"You haven't done anything wrong," he said. "Your brake lights aren't working."
He gave me a Fix-It ticket and I was on my way.
That's when my troubles started. The ticket never showed up on my record with DMV and I even drove to the local court in Pasadena several weeks later with the original citation and was told they couldn't do anything until the officer involved turned in his book.
"Keep checking the computer twice a week," the woman behind the thick, bullet proof glass told me once I reached her window. "It could take him up to a year to do it."
Well, two days ago, justice caught up with me. I received a bench warrant for my arrest and a ton of other wonderful stuff unless I paid the fee plus accumulated fines.
I raced down to the court house yesterday in total panic and found two lines forming.One for traffic violations, one for criminal. Lemme tell you we the traffic violators were a gnarlier looking crew than the criminal offenders. By the time I reached the window I'd played several games of "What did you do?" in my mind looking at the people around me. I soon realized justice in California has taken some weird detours.
My accumulated fines would cost me $1,500. I almost fell over.
"You can see the judge," the woman at the window told me, sounding bored. Judge? Sheesh. Was she talking about a trial? But I really had no choice. I don't have money to squander. Okay. I'll see the judge. She took my papers - including proof of correction on the tail lights - and I ambled toward the court. I took my seat in the back row. The place was packed. As people's names were called by the Bailiff, I moved closer to the front.
The judge was a gray haired, sweet-looking old guy. The type who would either be a real darling or a complete prick. I was thinking he veered somewhere near the latter as a very young girl stood before him. She was picked up for loitering in a park in Pasadena after sunset and had neglected to pay her fine. "$1,000 or 10 days in jail," he told her.
"I'll take jail," she said and was immediately taken through a side door and I imagine, the pokey. Now they were only up to the letter B in the alphabet and I freaked out completely. I went into the main lobby and called my best friend Gustavo.
"Help!" I screamed into my cell phone. I told him what happened. Gustavo used to be a cop and he told me the girl in question must have been a repeat violator.
"You're not going to jail, A.J. Calm down. And if you do go to jail, can I have your John Cassavetes DVD collection?" I hung up on him and went back into the court room.
Old Town Pasadena is a den of iniquity. I've never known so many people in a quiet, sleepy place to be doing so many naughty things. I was by now sitting beside a beautiful, very pregnant black woman who looked petrified.
The judge took a brief recess and I immediately started talking to everyone around me.
"What did you do?" I asked her. She stroked her belly. This gorgeous woman is from Eritrea, her very white, pale blond husband is German and they found themselves ticketed "For taking up too much space."
"This would never happen in Germany," he muttered.
"I can't pay the fine," she shrugged. "Because there is no code for what the officer ticketed me for."
She apparently was waiting for a bus with her hubby, surrounded by shopping bags and a cop strolled by and ticketed her for the shopping bags. Everyone around us was up on pretty minor stuff, most of them too, had never received their fine information in the mail.
Gustavo called me on my cell. A text: What's going on? Are you pets to be orphans? I ignored it. My lovely pal Tony texted me next. Is it true Christmas has been canceled?
Stepping outside, I called Tony back. "So what's going on in the court room?" he asked me. "Gustavo called me all frantic."
"I'm talking to the loveliest people," I told him. "The lady next to me--"
"A.J. can't you ever sit in a room and not find out everybody's life story? You're about to get hauled off to the Big House, mate!"
"No, I am not."
"Yes you are. You're going to be a nice little cupcake for some guy called Bubba."
I ended the call and went back to the courtroom. My new friend from Eritrea was standing before the judge.
He kept staring at the citation. "This is rubbish," he said, tossing the paper aside. "Case dismissed."
I turned and caught her anxious husband's gaze. I gave him a thumbs up. He was so happy, he gave me two thumbs up and rushed to escort his wife out of the room. I listened to a few more people with massive problems beg and wheedle with the judge. I tried not to think about owing favors to some guy called Bubba.
It was my turn soon and I stood, trying not to panic, trying not to think about going to the Big House for brake lights.
The judge smiled at me. "I'll accept this proof of correction. And I'll reduce your fine to...$80. Can you pay it today?"
"Yes," I said, thanking the gods and goddesses of cupcakes like me and ran from the court room to pay the fine in case he changed his mind and decided to make an example of me. Tony was on the phone as I was writing my check. I had a special piece of paper that needed to go to the DMV and I took possession of it, hurrying from the court house.
"I was just thinking," Tony said, when I called him back. "The Big House might be good for you. You'd find loads of inspiration for your stories there."
"Too late. I paid the fine."
"Oh, Mate! Bubba will be devastated!" he said.
I hung up on him. I drove out of Pasadena a free man, brake lights intact, seat belt on, trying not to think about cupcakes. Up ahead, my own Twilight Zone. A Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop, the big yellow light indicating they were cooking right now. Man can not live by good intentions alone.

Aloha oe,


Currently listening : A Lammas Ladymass - 13th and 14th Century English Chant and Polyphony By Plainchant Release date: 1998-09-01


Jambrea said...

"Oh, Mate! Bubba will be devastated!" ROFLMAO!

I SO need to meet Tony! lol

You poor thing! I'm glad it worked out in the end.

AJ Llewellyn said...

Thank you hon!

lastnerve said...

OMG, that is funny! Great story, thanks for telling it. I was laughing out loud.


Tierney O'Malley said...

AJ the Miscreant,

Tony was right. Bubba probably have a bag full of spicy stories to share. Hmmm...Bubba...LOL

My close encounter with a highway police was when my family and I drove to Lake Chelan in central Washington state last year. We we just cruising along when the girls noticed a police car following us with his lights on. My older daughter said, "cool!" the youngest said, "are we going to jail?" Husband said, "Crap!" and I was the worst "Oh my god, oh my god! What did we do?"
Husband pulled over and rolled down my window. Right away I opened the car's glove box and searched for the registration. Good god! I couldn't believe what I found in that box. From leaky bottle of lotion to a sticky gummy bear. I found the cars original registration from 1998 (stained but smelled of Vaseline lotion) and insurance card from 2005. I searched my wallet and couldn't find the 2007 one. Husband said to just show the cop what we got. And then we waited for him to come.
That few minutes wait while the cop checked our license plate or whatever he was doing in his car--that was nervewracking.I was so damn nervous.
Finally, the cop came and peered down at me ( I was the passenger) and said, "Howdy, where you guys heading?"
We didn't have to say anything. The girls answered for us. Husband showed the cop his ID and explained the insurance card situation. The cop turned out to be such a sweetheart(or maybe he didn't want to deal with paperwork). He said we were speeding. He didn't give us a ticket. Just a warning.

Thanks for sharing us your story AJ. You made me laugh so hard I scared my dog!


Adrianne Brennan said...


I turned and caught her anxious husband's gaze. I gave him a thumbs up. He was so happy, he gave me two thumbs up and rushed to escort his wife out of the room. I listened to a few more people with massive problems beg and wheedle with the judge. I tried not to think about owing favors to some guy called Bubba.

Oh gawds, I'm dying over here. You're funny!

Glad all is well, tho. :D

Jesse Fox said...

You poor thing. I swear courthouses are the worst. I just did jury duty earlier this week and swear I couldn't get home fast enough. God knows what I would do if I was there because of a citation.

Oh, Mate! Bubba will be devastated!

Your friend Tony sounds like most of my family. *rolls eyes* With friends like learn to hang up real quick. LOL I swear if you haven't yet you should create a character for one of your books based on Tony. He could be comic relief. ;-)

Glad things turned out in your favor. *hugs*

Erin Sinclair said...

I use to work for the PD in Las Vegas. I started out in the warrant section of the county jail. There were over 80,000 active warrants when I began my employment there, 2/3s of which were minor traffic infractions turned bench warrants. By the time I quit, a little over two years later, there were over 150,000. Not one to let curiosity sit idle I asked why. The answer I received was a classic civil service response. "We need money for a new jail tower to hold all of the warrants who don't or can't pay" Hmm, so much for local lore stating criminal activity in LV had hit an all time high and that's why we needed the new jail tower. It's all about the green.


AJ Llewellyn said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments everyone. I am getting a laugh out of how much you all enjoy my mate Tony. He is a character all right. Erin, very, very interesting info there hon, thanks for sharing.

Denisse said...

OMG too funny. Absolutely loved this. Made my day.

Nitaelf said...

I've had something similar happen to me about 6 years ago and I'm still having to deal with it. Seems one of my ex co-workers had stolen my Drivers License and was using it to cash stolen checks both here in Klamath Falls and over the hill in Medford, OR.

Get this she got a seatbelt violation and used my ID as hers. I lost my license because I didn't know about it till I got the paper in the mail. I had the proof that it couldn't have been me as I had been at work that night till close.

The Medford Police had caught her and this all went to court as it was her 2 offense for forgery and theft. But unfortunately for me they'd never charged her for the seatbelt thing.

Well I refused to pay it and still do to this day. I didn't get the ticket and the State of Oregon said they were going to fix it so that I didn't have to pay. I still don't have a license. Goes to show you can't trust bureaucracy anywhere.

Hugs Nita

AP Miller said...

Poor baby!

Cops can be morons...and I had my share back in the state I lived in when the town boarded up my FOR SALE home while I was in negotiations with my buyer, because they said it was vacant...I had to appear in court. Cops knowing I moved still knocked on the door of my empty home looking for me... I blew it off because their jurisdiction ends at state lines. I lived clear across country...I had no intention of showing up..I had enough of that town I lived in for 30 years. The judge sent out a bench warrant for me. I called the judge, told him off, then called the town and slapped them with harassment, and vandalism, and an order to remove the boards from my house or get slapped with a major lawsuit. Needless to say because I lived out of state they had no jurisdiction over me for something they caused. They couldn't touch me and it angered them big time. Finally the court and cops gave up and dropped the issue. They knew I would win if it came down to it. But all I can say is when you do get a citation and the cop is at fault for not doing HIS job, make sure you take care of it right away regardless. better yet call your lawyer. Let them have the headache.


Lynn Crain said... have such an exciting life...LOL!


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