Yesterday, August 31st, 2011, I had to be in traffic court in the county seat which is where I live at 9 am. Yes, I got a speeding ticket..I really shouldn’t have been surprised the day I got it when the nice officer pulled me over because truth is, I’ve had a lead foot since the day I turned 17 and got my drivers license. I know, it’s bad but, I can’t help it sometimes. Driving 25 miles an hour for me feels like I”m standing still and I hate that.. Hmm, maybe I should watch less NASCAR?
Anyhow, as I was sitting in this court room which by the way is atleast 150 years old. A very historic building here in South Carolina that is still in use I couldn’t help but notice everything about it’s architecture. I am a real history buff and where I live there is plenty of history. Pre-civil war homes and plantations, court houses. They even have a court house in town that is no longer in use and stands for historic use only. In this court is where back in the old south they used to buy and trade slaves and sadly, sometimes, they hung slaves in front of this building too. No, not a very proud time for our dear America but history none the less and a portion that should never be forgotten lest , God forbid it ever repeats itself.
The Court room and house I was in yesterday for my speeding ticket has been updated with electricity, the light fixtures while updated still have a very old south appeal and look to them, there is also air conditioning in place now and even an elevator but that is where the updates stop. The walls are still white Clapboard, although painted to keep it fresh, the benches we sat in, are the actual original bench booths. There is a gallery upstairs in the back of the court room as well. Before equal rights took affect in the south, African Americans were allowed to attend court preceedings but were not allowed to sit in the mail gallery downstairs so they were confined to the balcony gallery upstairs and while I understand that it probably didn’t make them feel well about themselves to be separate, from what I could tell yesterday? They had the best seats in the house! You didn’t miss a thing from up there!.
The hardwood floors are original, the small railings in the hallway are all original. It was truly fascinating for me to sit there and see all this. One day I plan to go back to take some photos.
As for the title of my post? Well, all you had to do was look at the people filing into the court room and you knew you were not in 1865 anymore. I don’t like to pass to judgment on people but yesterday, I couldn’t help myself. The people who walked into this room looked like they got dressed out of a garbage dumpster. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Clothes that were 2 sizes to small, shoes that were falling off, didn’t have backs on them, pants with holes in them, dirty, stained shirts. Flip Flops, unbrushed hair. As if people had been dumpster diving all night and just kind of rolled into the court room right after. Of course, I was dressed appropriately. Nothing to over the top but dressed to show respect to the office the man behind the big, towering podium desk from the 1800’s in the front of the room held. As I was raised. I can understand people being poor, I get that but sheesh, if you really can’t afford a nice shirt and a pair of pants, go to GoodWill and get some for maybe 5 dollars and show some respect.
Oh, as for my speeding ticket outcome. Well, I was a nervous wreck because I don’t like breaking laws etc etc and I was afraid I was going to get the book thrown at me. I was facing 4 points in my drivers license and a fine of $136.00. All I kept thinking was , “Oh God, please don’t let this judge be mean, if he is I might crumble right here”..I was very pleasently surprised when this handsome yet older gentlemen arrived in the court room ten minutes early and took his seat at the podium desk. Greeted everyone with a good morning and got things underway. He took all the traffic violations first and I was thankful as that court room was packed. In five minutes he called me up to the side of his imposing podium and said with a smile that he was dropping the 4 points and I had to do was pay the fine. I explained I did not have the entire amount to which he told me no problem, go see the woman in that small office and she will put you on payments. You have a very nice day. I was VERY thankful to God for answering my prayers and to this very nice judge who treated me with respect and compassion when afterall he could have just let the entire ticket stand.
My conclusion to yesterday mornings events? All judges aren’t mean people and, before you leave your house? Check your dress so you don’t look like a mess because people DO notice and anyone who tells you “Oh no one is looking at you” is lying to you.