By Anne D. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted July 2001
Summary: Lois is caught speeding … again … and is forced to submit to the rigors of the traffic court.
Clark slipped into the office, having already noticed that Lois was gone for the day. After hearing a call for help before noon, he hadn't been able to get back to work until now, nearly 7 PM. He bet Lois had used their usual excuse to cover for him when he was gone so long, but it looked like it didn't matter. There was no one in the office anyway. This was good because he wanted to get some work done, at super speed if possible, to make up for being gone so long, then check his email before heading home.
After a productive sixty seconds of work, he opened his email. The first message that caught his eye was from Lois.
"I wonder if you'll read this email before I see you tonight. Hope you had a good day! Mine certainly hasn't been so far, thanks to you and your insistence I handle things in what you call the proper way! Honey, sometimes you are such a spoilsport! Good thing I love you anyway."
Clark smiled. It seemed even in email Lois could get into babble-mode. So far, her message indicated she was in a light-hearted mood, so that boded well for their evening. Maybe her dreaded court appointment hadn't been too bad after all.
"I have an appointment in 30 minutes with Bill and, since you probably won't be back before I leave, I thought I would let you know about my not-so-wonderful day in court! After all, it's your fault for telling me I shouldn't use Constance for my ticket after I couldn't find another lawyer to help me. What is their problem anyway? I really think some nasty, untrue rumors are going around about me! I hope George recovers from his heart attack soon, because I certainly don't want another day like this one again!"
As the events that had stirred up the Metropolis Bar Association recently came to mind, Clark grimaced. Even though he hadn't been involved, he'd worried about finding a lawyer for himself if he were ever implicated in some way in the mess Lois had inadvertently caused. No way would Lois have any chance of finding legal help now, unless a lawyer was forced by the court to help her. He wondered if that incident might have caused George's heart attack or, if George were healthy, would he have represented Lois this time. Clark doubted it, but he certainly wasn't going to mention that to his wife.
"I know you're going to say there are other ways to avoid days like this, but you're not here, so there! (BTW, I assume you'll tell me tonight what you're up to right now (a little after 6 PM). I haven't seen or heard any reports of any of your particular kind of action.)"
Clark would have been surprised if it had been mentioned. Dolphins weren't the type of creatures inclined to call in news reports.
"All this just because I was going 31 in a 20 mph school zone. Jeez, 31 is slow enough, IMO. I know you don't agree, but it is anyway! There weren't even any kids around."
Clark hoped that Lois really didn't believe that. He would like to think that no more accidents would happen in school zones, but he knew better. Maybe Lane and Kent could investigate the inevitable next accident. She'd be reminded that children can dart out of nowhere, so there was no excuse for speeding in a school zone. In fact, in his opinion, 20 mph was too fast for school zones. Clark had seen people injured by cars traveling at even slower speeds.
"I wondered if the cop messed up my paperwork just to irritate me. He probably knew my regular attorney was out of commission and it would be hard for me to find time to handle the case myself!"
Clark shook his head at that. He hoped Lois really didn't believe that either, even though her paranoia was in fine form today, along with her e-babble. He couldn't believe a police officer would consider wasting the court's time just to irritate Lois. Unless… nah. He remembered how irritated Lois had been earlier that week when she found out she couldn't simply pay the ticket and get it over with. Because the officer forgot to record her speed, she'd had to schedule today's court date just to ask for a dismissal, something George could have done easily. Maybe he'd better buy dinner and dessert tonight, something with chocolate in it.
"Seriously, my afternoon in court was boring, but interesting, too! I seemed to have shared my 1 PM appointment with everyone else in Metropolis. But, believe it or not, honey, I was the only person with only one ticket! Aren't you proud of me? (Let's not go into the fact that I used to collect parking tickets! I've done a lot better recently! Well, haven't I?)"
Clark chuckled as he silently agreed with her.
"Most of the people even had warrants for their arrest because they hadn't paid their tickets … or had their lawyers take care of them, as I usually do. Can you believe in every case the judge waived the warrant, lowered the ticket amounts, and gave them 60 days to pay, with 25% down now? I *can't* believe how lenient he was. Letting all those criminals off! I know, I know! The city doesn't have enough jail space for all those people. But still… Bill's going to hear about this when I see him today!"
Clark wrote himself a mental note to get a double-chocolate dessert for Lois.
"Oh, a funny story that I must tell you! There was one … um… gentleman, who was there for some unpaid tickets for running a red light. Now, that's really serious, if you ask me. Anyway, the judge noticed that the guy had another ticket that was due next week for running another red light and reminded him to be sure to pay that one on time. Can you believe he just said, yeah, he knew about that and casually added he had two more of those also? Everyone laughed at that (even the judge and cops!) and the judge said he might want to consider stopping for red lights. The judge had a sense of humor! Can you believe it? It made me think I might get out sooner.
"Naturally, most everyone's tickets were for traffic offenses, plus no insurance, expired registrations, and expired license stickers. (Are we the only people in the city with insurance? Sheesh!) Another man didn't have a driver license, but tried to convince the judge that his Venezuelan license was an international driver's license. Of course, the judge told him that an international driver's license was different from a license issued from another country. Why did that guy believe that story would work? Wasting the judge's time and *my* time too! But, of course, the judge gave him 10 days to get his license and said he would lower the fine then. And, you won't believe it, but one person wanted a $10 dismissal fee since he got his car inspected after getting a ticket, but the judge wouldn't allow it in that case, since the last inspection was three years ago. It's automatic for 60 days (the cashier can even handle it) and the judge's discretion for up to a year, but not three years. What an idiot! I took notes. We should do a story on the things that go on in traffic court. Meanwhile, I was still waiting…
"The courtroom was nearly empty, but of course they didn't call my name next. The only other person waiting had seen this judge before when he demanded a trial previously (I couldn't hear what the case was about — sometimes your ears come in handy, dear!). He had then requested a retrial, but it was denied. Now he was trying to get an appeal, even though his 10 days were up! Wasting my time again. I had to sit there while this man couldn't understand the 10-day time limit for appeals. Why didn't the bailiff arrest him, since he wasn't paying his fine? I mean, with him out of the way, then they would have to call me, since I was the only one left in the courtroom!"
Clark wondered if double chocolate would be strong enough.
"But the bailiff did something nice for a change! He actually tried to find out why my name hadn't been called! He told me that they put the names in order according to how long it was going to take to handle the case. You know, that really is nice of them — too bad it didn't work for me! Anyway, the bailiff knew that the man griping up front was the last on the list, since he was a repeat visitor. Come to find out, the judge put my name last, because my case wasn't in the computer. The clerks didn't know what to do with the botched ticket, so I wasn't even entered in the system at all! I wonder if the judge recognized my name and put me last for some other reason! I don't understand that! I always try to help the authorities, don't I, honey?"
Clark couldn't help but laugh out loud at that.
"The judge finally called my name and, instead of dismissing the ticket like he should, he couldn't make his mind up and referred me to a prosecuting attorney upstairs for a recommendation. After cooling my heels up there, I finally got to talk to the attorney, who was in a Hawaiian shirt — how unprofessional! Of course, he recommended the ticket be dismissed, since important information (like the speed I was going) was omitted. Can you believe, as I was leaving, he said, 'See you later.' I told him I certainly hoped not! But I was polite, sweetheart. Honest!
"Anyway, I went back downstairs, where the judge was now on break. He sends me upstairs, then takes a break! Really! That judge *must* have recognized me. But I finally got the dismissal and out of there at 2:30! After this, I promise I'll try to slow down for school zones, even when there isn't a child within a hundred miles. I don't want to have to go through another day like this again!"
Clark nodded, pleased with that, but he still wanted to suggest the idea for the school zone article to Perry. Clark saw plenty of other speeders each day who needed to think twice about what they were doing.
"Yikes! Gotta type fast! I have 10 min. to get across town! Did you know that some school zones are in operation even this late because of Fri-nite football, if the teams are playing at the school? I found that out today at court. Anyway, I better hurry to meet Bill! Remember you owe me for this mess today and I won't let you forget it!"
Clark was confident Lois was teasing, but he decided he could live with that debt if chocolate wasn't a currency she would take tonight.
"I'll be home around 8! Hope you can get home early this evening too!
P.S. Do you think I ought to carry this dismissal form in my car, in case they mess up entering it into the computer? Otherwise, I'll probably end up with a warrant for my arrest. You will bail me out, won't you, dear?"
He certainly hoped he didn't get a call from Lois begging him to bail her out — especially if she was caught speeding again. A little jail time might do her some good since speeding was not a hanging offense. He'd have to mention that carefully after plying her with… yes, triple death by chocolate. Good thing that, if caught, she would only get a ticket instead of being arrested, dspite her paranoia.
Looking at his watch, he started to prepare to leave, trying to decide which country Lois would want chocolate from tonight. He wasn't quite sure what mood Lois was going to be in that evening, especially if he mentioned his story idea, but he knew she would keep her promise about speeding in school zones — at least in the immediate future. Now whether Lois, as an investigative reporter, would want to do an article about it was another matter. Unless he could find some reason for them to go undercover as school crossing guards to expose… As he took off, heading for northern Europe, he wondered if Lane and Kent really needed to alienate the school board too.
I guess I need to thank my teenage son for giving me the opportunity to visit traffic court. <g> I would also like to thank Debby, Dawn, and LabRat for their support and encouragement. Any and all comments welcome.