Today, was a day I'd been dreading for two months. Never before had I been summoned to court, and accordingly, I imagined horrible things that might happen to me, including going to jail.
Two months ago, I was out of state driving on the Interstate in an unknown area. When I approached my exit, I couldn't change to the right lane because it was full. Aware of my rare talent to get lost easily, I was determined not to miss that exit. I increased my speed for 20 seconds and changed to the right lane ahead of the other cars. And there it happened... In the very next moment I saw blue lights behind me. I had never been pulled over in my life, but I knew they wanted me to stop. But where? Emergency lane? Feverishly, I tried to remember if police lights are a case of an emergency. I called a friend and asked about it. She screamed, "Stop the car or they will shoot your tires!" I continued to drive though (not without checking in the mirror if the bleu light did go away but they didn't!) until I found a supermarket with a parking lot. The officer informed me that my speed was very high but that he would write less on the ticket or otherwise I would lose my driver's license. I explained what happened and said that it was very nice of him not to shoot my tires. He smiled and advised me not to miss my court date.
The countdown began. I became more and more nervous each day leading up to day X. Today, the time had come for me to appear in a court four hours away from Tornado. I entered the court parking lot and tried to back into a parking space. Another car driver who had pulled in just behind me honked his horn impatiently. I moved to the side to let him pass. But he just took the parking space I was aiming backwards. I don't remember how it happened, but that was the moment I lost my nerves. I jumped out of the car to reprimand him. Before I opened my mouth, the young man yelled he had never seen someone parking so awkwardly. I shouted back that he had seen it NOW and he should get himself a coffee because his behavior was ugly! For half a minute we were engaged in a screaming match before the female parking attendant came out and called: "It's enough people!"
He left, and I got into my car, embarrassed and crushed. What had just happened? That couldn't have been me! It was a bad sign, I thought. I created a bad karma and therefore will probably end in a jail.
I parked the car and was leaving when I saw the young man coming back straight to me. Behind him, in the parking attendant booth, I saw the lady bending and lifting up a riffle. She must have recognized the dangerous situation. I always had planned when I would be about to die I would text my kids the last time: "I'm dying. I love you..." and such. But in that critical moment I didn't even have time to find the phone in my handbag. I heard my mother's scolding voice in my head: "You should have stayed in Austria!" I hoped only the riffle lady was a good shooter.
I looked straight in his eyes.
"I am very much in a hurry and I am so sorry" he called out and then grabbed my hands.
I saw the parking attendant putting the riffle down.
"And I am a criminal and extremely nervous today!" I answered and explained: "I am summoned to court because of a speeding ticket."
"No, you are not a criminal!" he protested. "You'll be fine!" We apologized and hugged each other. Good karma?
For several hours I saw people sentenced to fine, prison, driver's school...
"How do you plead?" the judge asked me.
"Did you come to my court room all the way from WV? How do you like it in there?" he continued.
"Oh, I like it. The West Virginians are very friendly people." I answered.
The judge looked at his papers and said to the police officer who gave me the ticket. "We have here a very friendly West Virginia lady with a sweet Austrian accent and an immaculate driving record..."
"Your honor," my arresting officer interrupted. "I felt really bad writing her the ticket!"
They let me go. I didn't even have to pay the court fee. Oh happy day!