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Florida - West Palm Beach: Palm Beach County C...

Image by wallyg via Flickr

    Last week I had to visit the West Palm Beach courthouse.

   Before I launch into that story I’ll have to backtrack to about four months ago.

    Two days after my birthday when I was still riding my presents and cake high, I got pulled over by a cop about 5 miles from my house. I was doing 74 in a 55 zone so I got slapped with a $250 ticket. Even though I was saying “Bumba rass!” the whole time, the mature part of me knew I was in the wrong. I promptly paid the ticket and opted to take a 4 hour class in order to avoid getting points on my license.

    Now, the school I took my class with offered to send the certificate of completion directly to the court for me. Of course they weren’t going to do this for free so I shelled out the cash and they told me it was taken care of. This was in November. Let’s flash forward to last Thursday.

   After a long day at work, running 3 miles, and then lifting weights for 30 minutes, I collapsed in front of my desk at home to do some work on my writing sample for grad school. He-man had gotten the mail earlier that day and left a few letters addressed to me on my laptop. One was a credit card offer (garbage), another was from PBA (mildly interesting), and the other was from the State of Florida (curious). What could the State of Florida possibly have to say to me?

   I opened the letter only to discover that the driving school never sent in the certificate of completion and my license had been suspended since I hadn’t satisfied one of the requirements on my ticket. The first thing I did was look up the telephone number of the driving school (they have 24 hour live customer service…the fools), call them, and unleash fire and brimstone upon them. They swore their website did not say that, but my tiny black person told them otherwise. (I’ve decided to call my tiny black person Joan. My tiny white person will be called Shapottatawe)

    At this point it was 8:30 and I still had work to do so I found the electronic copy of the certificate in my email and decided to go to the courthouse the next day. I had this wonderful plan of taking an early lunch, finding no line at the courthouse, and getting out of there in 45 minutes flat. Did I mention that I can be stupidly optimistic at times? Well, I can be stupidly optimistic at times.

    I left the office at 10:30 and got the courthouse at about 10:45. Thankfully, it’s only 2-3 miles away from my office (don’t ask me how I got there). I wasn’t sure where the traffic division was so I asked a handy dandy office worker where it was and he told me I needed to go to the second floor and it would be the last door on the far left. As I headed to the escalator, I was ushered towards metal detectors by a security guard and told to empty my purse of all electronic devices.  Without a second thought I dumped my cell phone onto the conveyor belt to be scanned and walked through the metal detector. Before I could grab my purse and dash off another security guard took it and said, “You have another electronic device in here.”

    “No I don’t.”

    “Yes you do.”

    “No I don’t.”

    “Do you have a camera?”

   “No.”

    “An Ereader?”

    “Not on me.”

    “A cell phone.”

    “You already scanned that. Look, you can check my purse, but I don’t have any other elec-”

    “An iPod.”

    “…well you got me there.”

     He laughed at me.

    Quite heartily.

     I ran up the escalator and found the traffic division right where the handy dandy office worker said it would be (Praise God). Unfortunately, because I’m so stupidly optimistic, there was  line. A long line. Like we had to take numbers and I was number 94. They were on number 76.  It was 11 at this point and I had to be back at work by 11:30. Right by the door there was a sign that said, “Due to state budget cuts we’ve had to dramatically reduce our number of staff. This will most likely increase your waiting time.” Now, I know I’ve said countless times that I like to keep a clean blog and that I try my hardest not to cuss, but I’m going to break my rule here. The second I read that sign all I could think was “Blame the state; yo ass is gon’ wait.”

    Please forgive my use of profanity.

      I seriously considered leaving and coming back Friday before work when something miraculous happened: the line moved. Quickly. In about 3 minutes we were up to 80. Then we were onto 84. I thought, ‘Maybe I could do this. I might  be 5 minutes late for work, but I could probably get this resolved today!” Then it stopped and it was 11:10. Then it was 11:15 and we hadn’t moved past 87. There were still 7 people in front of me and there was no way I was going to make it back to work in time. I called the office and asked if I could stay. My boss’ reply was, “Stay there and get it taken care of because if you get arrested that’ll be an even bigger hassle.”

    Well said, Madame.

   So I stayed and I started to really look at my surroundings.

   There are some scary people in the traffic division.

    I mean like I thought I was going to have several felonies and misdemeanors committed against me before I left.

   There was nary a person there without a tattoo or a gold tooth or their pants hanging on for dear life around their knees. Now, I’m not saying that these things make a person a ne’erdowell, but many of them had shifty eyes and I could hear their conversation with the handy dandy traffic court workers.

   “I want to pay my traffic ticket.”

   “Sir you have three outstanding tickets; which would you like to pay first?”

   “Can you set a court date for this ticket? I don’t want to go traffic school again.”

    “How many points can I have on my license before it’s taken away?”

    “Sir, you have outstanding parking tickets on every car registered under your name. I’m going to have to refer you to another division.”

   Then there was Lady Cuss-A-Lot who cussed and cussed with all sorts of cussing because she stepped outside when they called her number and when she didn’t respond, they called the next person. Lady Cuss-A-Lot had a shaved head and wore skinny jeans and a camisole. I’ll let you do with that what you will. Oh but she did cuss a lot.

    After Lady Cuss-A-Lot there was Baby Misery Who Is So Very Miserable And Feels Oh So Much Misery (And is Miserable). She decided to take the paper numbers from the “Take a Number” machine and pull them out in a long continuous paper streamer. Then she screamed like a rabid howler monkey when her mother took it away. Never have I contemplated physical violence against a toddler before. In fact, the way some of those people were looking at Baby Misery Who Is So Very Miserable And Feels Oh So Much Misery (And Is Miserable) I wondered if she was going to make it out of the waiting area alive.

    Thankfully, I got a very nice and caring handy dandy traffic division worker who understood my situation and didn’t charge me $60.00 to lift the suspension from my license.

    To make a long story short (too late) I will never ever drive above the speed limit again lest I have to make another trek to the courthouse.

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