Friday afternoon I called the district court to see if I could mail in a check or pay my ticket over the phone with a debit card since we were moving to Nashville. No dice. I must appear in court or a bench warrant will be issued for my arrest. Ha! Me, the hardened criminal.
This news was frustrating. DJ had to move to Nashville without me so that I could remain in Minnesota for my mandatory court appearance. This morning I got up at the crack of dawn and began feeding, bathing, and dressing my children in their spiffiest clothes in order to make it to court by 9:30. Did I mention that because DJ is in Nashville (without me), I had to take my four children, the oldest of whom is only six, to court with me? Awesome.
I arrived at court at 9:28. My kids hair was pasted back, they wore their Sunday best. They were not yet rowdy. We sat in the back of the courtroom and waited for my name to be called. And then the bailiff escorted us to the lobby, where there was a large sign displaying the Rules of the Lobby.
1. No talking
2. No electronic devices
3. No food or drink
4. No sleeping
5. No reading
6. No gum chewingYeeeeeeeah--that's happening. I think I may have laughed out loud when I read this. He explained that we could wait in the lobby and he would come get us when it was our turn.
An hour later (an hour) the prosecutor for the city of Hopkins emerged and told me that if I was willing to pay a $200 fine for allegedly passing the school bus, I could just sign right there on that paper and go home. I'm human. I signed the paper. The city of Hopkins had me where they wanted me.
"Give me five or ten minutes, I'll have the paperwork ready and you can pay your fine and go home," he said, but I was so distracted by his reptilian skin and forked tongue that what I heard was, "Give me five or ten minutes, I'll have the paperwork ready and you can pay your fine and go home."
Silly me. What he meant was: "Now you will sit in this foyer for two more hours wondering if I am in my office eating a hoagie, using this paper you just signed as a placemat."
I sat in that cursed foyer, on those ratty stained couches, surrounded by crackheads, child molesters, people who wantonly disregard school buses, and four unbelievably whiny children for three hours. I would have preferred a jail cell (at least then I could let my kids run around or chew gum).
At the end of my three hour sentence, the prosecutor snapped his jaw back into place after having swallowed a mouse whole, and came back into the foyer. He did a great job of looking surprised to see me (as if he couldn't hear my whining children from his office).
"Oh! You thought I was going to bring the paperwork back out to you!" he said, fake-palm-smacking his forehead.
I am embarrassed about my behavior in that foyer. "You mean," I screamed, the edges of my vision getting shaky, such that I began to wonder if I was going to transform into a werewolf, "I have been sitting in this foyer for two hours for nothing?!" Spittle flew. Really. It was not attractive behavior. He began to respond, but I was so filled with rage that all I could do was gather up my five hundred children, and the board books, and the stuffed sheep that Olivia had to bring, and the spilled Cheerios, and stomp into line to pay my $200 fine.
And I waited in line.
The same line that I had just waited next to for three hours.
When it was my turn, the poor lady working there (who was a witness to my tantrum) was the one who had to tell me that their "computers [were] down" and they were unable to take my payment.
Then I can mail my payment in, can't I?--Of course you can mail your payment in!
She even gave me a convenient envelope designed for the specific purpose of mailing payments.
Oh, the bureaucracy!
(For the record, there was no school bus.)