By Greg Acuna
I think when I was approached to write for The Guardian Express, there was the expectation that, as a writer of political satire, the columns I would pen for the fledgling newspaper would be humorous. Truth is I haven’t been in a comic mood. I’ve been job hunting. Nothing like the pain of looking for employment in the middle of — what are we in the middle of? Is it still a recession? A recovery? Well, I can’t speak for the economy, but it’s put me in the middle of a serious depression. How about you?
To make matters worse, yesterday I was compelled to make a $205 contribution to the government after a seven month battle over a minor traffic violation. Well, it was a battle for me. Surely the court system didn’t even register mild irritation, which is even more bothersome.
You see, back in November of last year, I was driving leisurely around the Vegas Valley, house hunting. As my GPS was explaining to me in that almost human voice that I would have to turn in one hundred feet, I was surprised to see flashing blue lights behind me. Of course, my first reaction was that cold sweat one gets when facing an encounter with a man with a gun. My next reaction was to pull over calmly, thinking the policeman was either getting ready to speed by me in search of criminals in the act doing society bodily harm or that there must be have been some kind of mistake.
The crew cut LVPD officer explained to that he clocked me going 44 in a 25 mph zone. I was shocked and dismayed. I smiled, I explained and I begged. I finally got a ticket for the reduced charge of going 1 to 10 miles over the posted speed limit. Yes, I could have paid the fine, gone to traffic school and had it over with quickly, but alas, I did not know the labyrinth I was entering.
The ticket ordered me to appear six weeks later at the courthouse. I appeared on time, took a number and waited…and waited…and waited. During my wait, I started wondering if something was wrong. There was something strange about the waiting area. I was the only “Caucasian.” I joke you not. I spent over an hour there and not another white face appeared on our side of the thick, glass-lined room. I don’t know if people of color are really targeted that much more for traffic violations or if there is another explanation, but it’s definitely a disturbing question.
Once my number was called, I was told to go to one of the windows outside a courtroom. “Hooray!” I thought. I was going to settle it once and for all; but no, I was told to return in two weeks. Two weeks later, I was in front of the judge thinking finally I would have it all behind me, but after a quick and cryptic conversation with the District Attorney, I was told I needed to return again almost five months later. Talk about having something hang over you for a while!
Yesterday, I went to court. The DA offered to reduce the ticket to “Illegal Parking” with no points and no traffic school. I marveled at the wisdom of the situation and figured I was being fined for parking my rear-end in the court house, wasting everyone’s time, especially my own. Perhaps paying the fine would be the best thing for me. A reminder to avoid courtrooms at all costs.
The kind officer who gave me the ticket was there, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, looking like I’d done him a favor getting him out of his black and white into the cool air-conditioned civility of the courtroom. He stepped outside and nicely talked to me until he convinced me that I was guilty despite my well-prepared arguments. Actually, fear was planted in my heart that the judge would rule against me and fine me “over a thousand dollars.”
I took the deal, let them swipe one of my credit cards that hadn’t already reached its limit and hurried outside to breathe the air of freedom. I’d survived. On my drive home, I had to admit that perhaps the system was purposely painful. My speedometer never crossed the posted limit.
Greg Acuna can be reached at [email protected] His novel “Revolution American Style” is available at www.RevolutionAmericanStyle.com or on amazon.com.