Justice! ...Pretty much

Previously on Ronson's Life: Ronson had just gotten back in town after the holidays, only to find a random parking ticket on his car. Wanting to protest, he held onto the ticket for a day, but then -- suddenly and without notice -- the ticket doubled in price! 80 bucks, all for leaving his car where his thought it'd be safe during his trip to Iowa. What a tortured soul.

Folder of evidence in hand, I marched into the Cincinnati Courthouse today to defend my case. Oh, was I ready. I decided to dress up, had my story down, my special personal circumstances, flight records etc. etc. Finding your way around the courthouse requires a compass, or perhaps a special guide dog. It's not easy. I finally found the door marked 105. There were several instructions:

"Please knock if you have an appointment."
"Wait in the hall until your name has been called."
"DO NOT go into Courtroom B."

I was relieved I didn't have to go into Courtroom B (that's where most people were going). It looked like an awful place. I was a little early, but I knocked on the door. No answer. A group of fellow accused parking violators began to join me. A well-dressed man (complete with suit and tie) with a whole portfolio was making me feel a little insecure about my wimpy folder. We were joined by a pretty laid-back guy and a very vocal woman (there was a story about someone being ticketed for parking in a handicapped spot even though she actually had handicapped tags. I don't know. Seemed very involved.)

Eventually, a shorter woman with white hair and a very strong voice came up to the door and told us all to be seated. She'd call each of our names when she was ready. At this point I realized I had about 20 minutes left in my meter and thought it would be a bitter irony to lose my case and then have my car ticketed again. So very, very bitter.

Well-dressed Man was called in first. After he went into "the mystery room," the white-haired woman running the show came up to the bench where the rest of us were waiting.

White-Haired Woman addresses Vocal Lady first. "What's your name? And how will you be pleading today?"

Wait a second. Pleading? I didn't realize I had to plead anything. Will I have a lawyer appointed to me?

Now, we come to the special lesson of today's story. Apparently, it is Cincinnati law to ticket ANY vehicle that has been parked in one spot for more than 14 hours. Where did this come from? Vocal Lady (who's charges must be similar to mine) freaks.

I'm next. I decide to plead "Not Guilty" just to see what happens. I mean, I didn't come all the way out here to be guilty. She asks if I have "taken pictures." Again, I had no idea. I say "no, but I have some evidence," gesturing with my little folder. She seems satisfied with this answer.

She then re-explains the 14-hour rule to me. I say "B-b-but I have a special circumstance. I was out of the state at the time." She says, "OK" but wants me to be aware of this when I enter the Room Of Mystery, it will probably work against me. Says it's a "Catch 22," which I didn't really get. If she is aware of the ridiculousness of it, how has it come to exist? Vocal Lady steps in to mention how she thinks it sucks. I pretty much agree.

Well-dressed Man leaves, seemingly satisfied and somehow Vocal Lady, who was the last to arrive, is called in next. 12 minutes left on the meter. Great.

About 6 minutes later, Vocal Lady leaves, still pissed. I feel bad for her, she's explained to me what she's been ticketed for and it's a lot more than my 80 bucks. I'm next, she calls me in by "Ronson" which I find strangely personal.

I enter the room of mystery, which is actually simply two tiny offices. I've been wondering for days how this is going to play out. How am I going to act. I imagine three scenarios:

Scenario 1: I try to parlay my meager CiN Weekly status into getting a "Not Guilty" verdict. Sample defense: "Do you know who I am? I will BURY you!" Thank God this doesn't happen.

Scenario 2: I literately and competently describe my case without a hint of emotion in my voice. Sadly this doesn't happen either. Plus, I can't even come up with a line of dialogue that would best exemplify this. Clearly, I've learned nothing.

Scenario 3: I nervously stammer that I don't have a garage or "parkway" (meant to say "driveway") and blah blah blah. Basically babbling like an idiot and unintentionally going for the pity vote. That's what happens.

The kind man in charge of my case doesn't even look at my carefully compiled folder of evidence and hands me a sheet of paper that serves as official notice that I've learned about this 14-hour rule. It's basically a form letter as no doubt 50,000 people do this a year. He then (again, very kindly) drops my $80 ticket to a $10 ticket. I think that's about the time my heart rate returned to normal and I started seeing shapes and colors again.

Then, though the offices are tiny and connected with an open door between them, White-Haired Lady calls me into the other room with an intercom. Surreal. She hands me the payment information and I leave, wiser about the world. Well, Cincinnati anyway.

Laid-back Guy is still on the bench when I leave. I wish him good luck. He's gonna need it. He forgot to take photos.


Kari said...

you forgot about the part where you celebrated with a giant Chipotle burrito and diet Coke.

Kelly said...

Wow, that's a crappy law.

And that woman had her literary references mixed up. The 14-hour law isn't a "catch-22"; it's just a mean, sucky law.

Also ... you have to take photos? Of what? Your car with a ticket on it? Maybe I should start taking pictures of my car every time I park it somewhere, so I can have a record of all the times I move it.

Gina said...

Ahh... Such sweet, sweet memories.

Reminds me of my own courthouse experience when I decided to fight a speeding ticket.

The Price Of Justice, By Gina "Guilty" Daugherty

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm....giant chipotle burrito!

If you can use photos as evidence, couldn't you just stage a photo where your car is not breaking any parking laws? Then just show them the photo of your car, legally parked, and say, "Hey, here's proof that I'm right and you're wrong! You're not getting any more of my burrito money! Ha!"

Ronson said...

Seriously. The photo thing is ridiculous. I'd be staging photos every time I got a ticket if that's all it took.

And you're right, Kelly, she did have her literary refs messed up. I think it's funny, cuz to describe anything as a "Catch 22" means that she knew it wasn't right. I'm really curious as to how this law came to be...

I'm gonna go read Gina's story right now, I have a feeling you had some amusing insight on the whole
"fightin' the law" thing. There's so much material, it's almost dizzying.

This whole thread is making me hungry for Chipotle...again.

ann said...

Very good read Ronson. But you fought the law and the law "kind of" won. You did good and I'm very proud you took time off of work to protest. Did you get ticket while you were in the courthouse?

Ronson said...

Thanks, mom! Fortunately I wasn't ticketed when I got back to my car -- I didn't have any time left on the meter though, so I was definitely pushing it!