Lady Number Three goes courting - Part 1

Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:25 PM

Twenty years ago, in 2003, I was innocently tooling along Hwy. 421 through Yadkinville when I was suddenly accosted by a highway patrolman, who insisted that I was driving faster than the speed limit, which I almost ... uh ... never do. I batted my lashes, but to no avail; I still got a speeding ticket. 
(Interestingly, approximately 25 minutes later, still traversing Yadkinville on 421, I was waylaid by a sheriff for the same reason. This was craziness; after just getting a speeding ticket, I would hardly go flying down the road ... well, not immediately, anyway. Tears ensued, and this law enforcement officer, being MUCH nicer, said it was probably an equipment problem, and let me go without another ticket.)
I wanted this understood at the beginning of my column, so that you will appreciate -- and be humongously impressed -- that I have not had a ticket since then! That is quite a feat, my friend, which proves that I am a careful and brilliant driver ... or at least a gifted avoider of detection, which I inherited from my mother, Leadfoot Louise.
But, the odds were against me, weren’t they? One day in September as I raced ... I mean, drove sedately ... down Orange Grove Road, my personal “radar” was insufficient, and another highway patrolman -- undoubtedly a descendant of the mean one in Yadkinville -- stopped me. I tried to explain that I had gone on an errand to Cracker Barrel, totally forgetting that I was supposed to be going with a friend to a funeral over in Durham! Being EXTREMELY “middle-aged” now, I sometimes forget things, but it was obvious, wasn’t it, that I needed a complete mental evaluation if I could forget a frickin’ funeral! He was unmoved. Hence, my first ticket in 20 years.
After having to change the date once (I was having a stress test that day, which I could have accomplished by going to court, anyway, if my doctor had just agreed to come along) I finally went to the Hillsborough courthouse last Wednesday to plead my case. 
The ticket said to be there at 9 a.m., so I rose before it was light, showered, powdered and coiffed, and was parked across the street from the courthouse by 7:20. It was freezing outside.  Naturally, no one was there yet, the place was locked up, and there was no activity anywhere except for two guards who came out of the adjacent jail to smoke and give me that we’re-gonna-be-doing-your-mug-shots-later kind of look. 
I waited in the car until I saw the first woman approach the front doors, find them locked, and take a seat on the granite porch railing, texting on her phone. I scrambled from my car, but still, there was one more person waiting by the time I got across the street. So, I was third in line, people, which was AWESOME, as in I-won-the-lottery-TWICE awesome! (Trust me -- I come from a long line of lawyers.)
We stood there shivering, stomping and swaying to avoid frostbite (which I would sue the county for in a heartbeat!) as, very quickly, more folks joined our line on that stone front veranda. I had my purse, the morning newspaper, a bottle of water, and the book my book club is reading, clutched to my chest to help me stay warm, and eventually we began talking, laughing and making lifelong friends. 
The fourth in line, a lady right behind me, was very nice, and had apparently been through the routine ... well, more than once, and she gave us all a rundown of how it would go once we were inside. This was so helpful, and she immediately became the expert on all courthouse maneuvers, including “Where is the bathroom?”
Lady Number Two, right in front of me -- also nice -- was Asian, and spoke very limited English.  I tried to translate for her what Lady Number Four was saying, and she was trying hard to follow, but I wasn’t sure she was getting it, so Gentleman Number Five tried, as well. She kept nodding, then asked the same question again. Eventually, we smiled, patted her on the arm and I went back to reading -- hey, it’s Look-Out-For-Number-One here in the “big house,” punk. (Just practicing.) 
Gentleman Number Six and his wife were new in town - and, new to the country, I think -- and had been given a ticket while trying to find Maple View Farms Ice Cream, which they eventually found and ate, but didn’t even enjoy by then, which is a crime all by itself, I would argue.
Then, just as they opened the door, Gentleman Number Five said to me, “Excuse me, ma’am?  Are you really going to take a book called ‘Necessary Lies’ into a courtroom?”
OK, fine, that had been an unfortunate oversight. But, “ma’am”? Really?

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker.  Readers may contact her at chh@heraldsun.com, or visit her website, www.vickiwentz.com.