Uninspired and punched at Traffic Court


Uninspired and Punched
La Mía Culpa?

by Lupita Peimbert

I felt punches in my stomach while leaving the traffic courtroom this morning; immediately drove to Starbucks hopping a Soy Latte and a hot Panini will diminish the anguish I felt, and my stomach absorbed. Whether you believe in metaphysics or not, the Judge directed a pound of bad energy towards me and hit his target.

I wonder if he stereotyped me –not because I am a Latina with an accent, but maybe because I said “I am a free lance… a journalist.” He thought I had said: “I am an attorney.” Do Judges do not like journalists and attorneys? Or maybe because of my unexpected commenting about something else.

Granted, I was there because, while driving, I did as many of you do: talk on the phone hence the citation. Pointless to the Court and so I did not mention it, nonetheless to my defense, I was holding my iPhone-on-speaker with my right hand while driving. Guilty!

The California Highway Patroll Officer who gave me the citation back in January was polite and so was I even after I saw the $170 fee. But my driving was under the speed allowed on highway 680 and so this would not bee a bad traffic violation. I do not have bad driving record, Thank God, the precautions I usually take, and luck.

At Court this morning, where you know you are at the Judge and the system’s disposal, the friendly manner of the Sheriff   who welcomed us and showed a training video made me feel comfortable.

Then the Judge –whose name I won’t dare to say, came in to the Courtroom, friendly, apparently approachable. Most people did not follow the instructions presented through the “training” video.  Most people there seemed lost once their name was called.  I thought I was prepared, confident, and at ease. I even had the time to notice that the training video does not prepare people to communicate well while standing in front of the Judge.

When my name was called, I did what I was told. I said my name, clearly and calmed.

How do you plea? The Judge asked.
-Anything else?
-“May I get community service?”
He looked at my file. I live in Marin County. (As if only the wealthy can live there.)
How do you make a living? He said as routinely as only Judges can say it.
-“I am a free lance…journalist and have… hardship,” I answered. He looked at me and to my file again.
By this time, I got nervous. I bet you that (by the Goddesses’ forces that allow me to read people) he made some assumptions. Wrong assumptions, perhaps.

Then, la Mia Culpa…
-“As community service, I can help you change that boring video, create a new one, bilingual.”

The Judge moved forward and said in a not so friendly voice -I deemed.
-We pay people to do that. You do not like this video.

-“It is not good” (I was surprised by my ability to speak with a stronger Latina accent. I wanted to elaborate but word would not come out of my mouth.) There was an Infinitum of a second of silence.

Then, the Judge, with the authority and powers he held at that moment, looked at me again, moved back and said, while looking at my files,

I will tell the C-o-m-m-i-s-s-i-o-n-e-r who worked on that video that is not good. I am sure he will appreciate your criticism –then remarked: positive criticism of course.

That is when I felt, figuratively speaking, punches to my stomach. As if being a Commissioner makes you a great communicator. As if status makes you infallible.

The punches to my ego I don’t care but the punches to my spirit and
to my often upset stomach I really do not appreciate

Coincidentally, I had brought with me “Inspiration” by Wayne Dryer, and had read earlier in the morning, precisely, about the difference between people who inspire and those who do not. Wayne wrote that he has been long lasting inspired by JFK, Viktor Frankl, and others.

I said nothing else because energetically I was paused and felt almost breathless, a mix of stupor and fear. Fear that if I dare to say anything else like “the reason people feel at lost, look unprepared, and can’t elaborate when they come in front of you, is because the video shown prior to the starting of the Court session is not effective.“

Fear that you could say “off with your head!” or worst “double the fee for you because you are being disrespectful to authority.” And given that I have seen how things can grow out of proportion…

The Judge did not give me community service, but he did lower the fee, just a little bit. I am paying $123 instead of $170 and so I appreciate that.

I moved to my right to where the Sheriff   I’ve mentioned earlier was. He gave me the final paperwork and looked at me smiling in conspiracy. I murmured “This video can be better,” but his Index finger signaling “say nothing else now” clearly helped me to exit quickly.

Useless may now be to say that this Sheriff   is the one who inspired my commenting on the video when earlier he said this video is boring but you have to see it. When I hear there is a problem I go on automatic to find a solution. Call me whatever but isn’t that part of the American proactive mentality we so proudly embrace?

But while writing this, I could not avoid a couple of tears set free from my eyes. My feelings were hurt.  At 44 years old, or at any age for the same reason, we can be as emotionally vulnerable as children are. And judging the look some of the people who left the room had…

This blog is my Kingdom, and the freedom of expression I can exercise here is where I hold authority and power. Who Judges the Judges? If I were, I would assess that this Judge at the traffic court lost an opportunity to make a lasting impression. Furthermore, I would ask him what assumptions he makes and why, where did he learn that people’s opinion are unworthy of consideration and more importantly, who told him that Judges have to behave like that?

These are my unedited thoughts meant to liberate myself from the ugly feeling I experienced today, undeservedly. Whether what I wrote here may have certainly been my perception and not reality, it does not matter, an impression is an impression –just ask Wayne Dyer.

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