In traffic court this morning to see what I could do about a lame speeding ticket (31 in a 25 zone, so sue me). Thought I could pop in quickly before work and take care of it. Show up at 9:15, they said. Two hours later, courtroom still full of cases, people trying to excuse themselves for driving without licenses, insurance, registration. Maddening. Finally gave up and paid the damn thing. Would have taken forever, and my case seemed so freeze-dried compared to the “edge cases” that were being handled.
During the proceedings a homeless man took the stand. Scruffy, hair sticking up, dirty Halvoline jacket, original Sony Walkman on his hip. Looked permanently drunk. His crime: Riding a bicycle without a helmet. When it was his turn to testify, the sum of his testimony for the judge was: “I was born without a helmet, why should I wear one now?” Judge fined him $53. Man said he couldn’t pay, asked to do community service. Judge said no, gave him an extra month to scrape together the money.
Another man lives on the streets near my work. Usually friendly, occasionally rants. Sweeps the sidewalks for all of us. Sweeping is “his thing.” Recently learned that he had planted a few stalks of corn next to a nearby parking garage – his own little public garden. One of my many bosses apparently suggested that he tell the government about his corn, because they would pay him to stop growing it. Pretty brilliant when you think about it. I wonder if our homeless friend got the joke.