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The Mercy Seat

In April 2012, I was awarded my first speeding ticket.


For toodling down Pioneer Ave. at an alleged 46 in a 35.

Which may be entirely accurate.

I…don’t know.

I was headed to the Roller Rink with a mind completely somewhere else.

Until it was clear–very clear– the blinking bright lights on the motorcycle at my bumper were meant for me.


Not much made sense at the time of my ticket–how angry I became; how much my hands convulsed trying to wriggle my license free; how much I hated that I couldn’t hold them steady; how steep the fine seemed…agghh…none of it.

And I realize now that I felt this sense of entitlement. I deserved mercy instead of a ticket–my perfect driving record said so.

And yet I got a ticket. And a court date.

Which was today.


There were 29 of us there at 10:30 a.m.

All offenders.

All positioned in rows of black chairs facing forward. Like at the DMV.

Each of us called by name in alphabetical order to sit before the judge, our backs to the remaining crowd and listen as he read aloud our dirty laundry.

By the time we got to the end of the ‘M’s, twenty people had cleared.

We were nearly family now. Third cousins.


And then it was my legs at the front.

My voice breathing my name into the microphone.

The judge reading my case aloud. Only he stopped. Then continued reading silently to himself before summing up with, “I see you and the officer had a long conversation.”

An understatement.

Spoken mercifully.

I nodded.

And that was it. My two hours of leg crossing and nervous sweating for my two court-room minutes were over.


I didn’t actually pay the whole fine.  I ended up getting a four dollar discount on my ticket.

And with it… a summer’s long lesson in character.


Which–I must have needed.


2 Responses to “The Mercy Seat”

  1. Linda H says:

    Only a discount of $4.00!! Wow, the 2 hours you spent in the court room was worth more than that. Did that judge have a heart?
    Yesterday, a spoke to a homeowner in E.W. He got a $150.00 ticket, here in E.W., for rolling through a stop sign at 1am. He is thinking about contesting it. I hope he does.

    • jeanne says:

      You. Are kidding. A $150.00 ticket for rolling through our stop sign at negative miles per hour in our own neighborhood at night. Wow. I’ll be shaking my head on that one for a while.

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