So many of you know about my encounter with the law. You can read the saga, part 1, here.
Part II unfolded on December 2, 2009, at approximately 8:45 a.m. I left my house in the pouring rain. I triple checked my folder to make sure I had my citation for expired Arkansas tags, and my print-out from the TN DMV stating that I purchased my TN tags, exactly 2 days after the offense. Please note that my citation occurred on a Saturday, or it would have been one day.
From my house, I only had to drive across the bridge and four blocks to 201 Popular. From what I'm told, if you're raised in Memphis, you know that 201 Popular is the courthouse and jail, and the address is scarred into children as a mantra.
My court appearance was 9 a.m. Apparently every other felon/criminal in Shelby County had the same court time as me. The streets were crowded with criminals, or soon-to-be-convicted criminal, rolling out of vehicles in the middle of the street. I guess when you're actually arrested, unlike me, you may get your driver's license revoked, or maybe you never had it, and that's why you were breaking into houses and starting fights with your girlfriend in the beginning.
So me and every other Memphis thug are fighting our way into 201 Popular. I chose a Pay For The Day parking lot across the street from 201 Popular and paid $6 to park Big V. I left Big V to socialize with the Crown Vics and walked across the street, in the rain, into 201 Popular.
I guess due to security, and to the sheer volume of criminal thugs, me included at this point, that enter the court house every day, they have created one entrance. Everyone had to go through the same security; everyone rides the same elevator; and everyone walks the same hallways.
Upon my entrance, I am clearly a deer in the headlights, as I, thankfully, don't know my way around this criminal household, and so I begin reading every sign I see and looking to where the majority of people are walking.
Most of the people I entered the building with form a line up the stairs and to my right. I figure that if there is a line, it's safe to go stand in it. It is a VERY long line, and as I'm doubling the hallway to find the end of it, I begin to think it's really not my crowd. As I finally find the end of the line, I look up and the sign above me reads Jail Visitors Security.
Ummmm, no. I am not here to visit my baby's daddy or any other relative in JAIL. I quickly looked around and spotted a security guard. Knowing that MY very security was in jeopardy, I practically shouted out, "I'm here for traffic court!" It appeared he was a seasoned veteran of the Shelby County jail/courthouse, and I was not the first 5'1", Caucasian female that had cried out to him, and so without flinching he said, "You need to go downstairs." I saw the elevators down the hall, and I made a break for it. I think the jail visitors were sad to see me go, but self preservation kicked it. Flight or fight, and I flighted!
At this point, I remembered the wisdom of the officer who had originally pulled me over. He said, "Go downstairs. You don't need to be upstairs." He was right. I did not need to be upstairs.
So I boarded the elevator awaiting the paradise that was to be traffic court, with nice, non-criminal people who had just let time elapse and meant no harm to the community. Like I had.
No. I was still in the Shelby County court house. It turned out that downstairs had its own security line, which I had to stand in with every other criminal or relative of a criminal in Shelby County--non-jail visiting as they were.
Because I was afraid the court would ask me for some piece of paper that I didn't have, I brought every document regarding my car in a file folder, which I placed in my work bag, which is very cute and embroidered with my name thanks to Anna Parker Morshedi and her wedding favors for bridesmaids. I digress.
I stand in the security line for all of us non-jail-visiting people, until finally I have to place my Cole Hann purse and above-mentioned bag into the conveyor belt. I'm pretty sure the security guard didn't glance at my belongings during the scan due to the fact he was chatting with people that appeared to be regulars. Regulars.
After security, I was off to find division 1 traffic court. This was no easy task because there were no signs or blinking arrows pointing the lost girl where to go. I decided to ask everyone I saw where to go because the hallways and escalators and huge lines looked more like ant farms than anything else. I asked security guards, and they would point me down one hall. At the end of that hall, I would ask police officers, who would direct me down another hall. At that point, I even asked a "regular,' and he directed me to another hall, where I finally found the line I was suppose to be in. There was a cute girl in front of me. I gently asked if she was in the line for the district 1 traffic court, and with quite a bit of a wild hair in her eyes, she answered yes. I knew what she had been through to get there, so I politely thanked her and stood in line.
They call you in three at a time in division 1 traffic court. When it was my time, I walked cautiously into the court room, expecting a mean judge and a panel of punishment-driven jurors; however, what I found was a clerk, or some other non-judge like person, at the side table calling people's names.
I walked up to her desk when asked; I provided her with my paperwork; she signed her name; pronounced Case Dismissed; and I left.
After all of that?!!? After taking my safety into my own hands? After parking in the $6/day parking lot? After standing in the Jail Visitor security line?!?! That's it???
I felt like I deserved a medal, or a gold-sealed letter from Shelby County thanking me for completing my restitution. But no. None did I receive.
I made my way out of 201 Poplar, back to Big V, who had won over most of the Crown Vics, and headed to work.
My brush with the law was done for now, but Shelby County jail visitors will be wishing that I'll slip up in the future.