Friday, July 15, 2011

Black and White

I had big plans for this post—yesiree. Yesterday, I was like, Yes, I'm going to write a good, funny post about our court case today and it will get like eight comments and gain me world-wide recognition.

I actually didn't really think all of that, but I did have an idea for a post in mind. I even had a general framework of the words I was going to say.

But, as some insightful and very old philosopher once said:

shite happens.

Shite is right. Court was fine—when fine means the guy who hit us was indignant and the judge was LENIENT AS HELL, letting offenders off the hook left and right while I sat there with my mouth agape, often making slightly-louder-than-whispered exclamations of disbelief along the lines of "Are you joking?! I have paid more in fines for a SPEEDING TICKET—a speeding ticket, I tell you!" David had to "sh" me several times. And because we were in court and I could have gotten arrested for talking above a whisper in the courtroom, I even let him slide for it.

It was a little bit like watching a movie. Like watching Ben Affleck get away at the end of "The Town," but instead of being happy that he got off scott-free being pissed. Pissed that the guy who hit you—basically totaled your car, could have killed someone, really—can get away with being 30 minutes late to court, being rude to the judge, saying "huh" and "what?" a criminal number of times, NOT pleading guilty, mayyybe presenting falsified proof-of-insurance evidence and paying less in fines than you have for a speeding ticket (for going 12 over coming down a mountain, so shoot me).

It was hard to stomach. Did I want him to suffer? No. Did I want to see his life ruined? No. Did I want to see him in a jumpsuit walking toward the electric chair—great scott, calm down. No. But I did want the judge to peer down from his position of wisdom and authority and say something like this:

"Young man, do you understand that you could have severely hurt these young (attractive) people standing to your right? Do you understand that your recklessness could have gotten someone killed? Irreparably changed their lives, their families' lives, forever? I expect you want a good life for yourself. Maybe you want to find success, find a nice mate and settle down, travel the world, have children. I don't expect that you want to end up in a vegetative state in a hospital bed, or in a jail cell with a life sentence, or worse, dead far too soon. If I'm right, if you want a good life then you need to stop, take the hair out of your eyes, straighten up, look me in the eye and promise me that you are going to think twice the next time your feet hit the floor first thing in the morning. You are going to sit there or stand there for one minute longer and consider how your actions affect the people around you–your family and even strangers—and ask yourself if those actions help or hinder those people. Every time you put your keys into the ignition of a car, chant it to yourself if you have to, but tell yourself that by getting out onto the road you are taking on a responsibility that is greater than getting to point A or point B. You have the power to alter, to help along, to end the lives of those around you. And I believe that you care about those people around you. I believe that you want to take care of your fellow man, not hurt him, or scare him. And I challenge you to do better. I challenge you to never step foot in a court room again, because you will never get in trouble like this again. Do you understand? These two (attractive) people to your right deserve that, I deserve that, your family deserves it and you do, too."

That would never happen. Never. Even though the judge did make a few stern warnings to other offenders, most of what he said was short and sweet. I know he's in his late 60s and probably just looking forward to the end of the line, the end of the endless paperwork, and questions and decisions and tears and half-hearted apologies, but I also know, deep down, that I believe actions deserve real consequences. Good and bad. And in all of my progressive, liberal leanings, I believe that when you do something wrong there should be a penalty, no matter how minuscule or grand-scale. In this life—whether or not you believe marijuana should be legalized—there is right and there is wrong. There is a choice.

I walked out of the courtroom into blinding July sunlight, my hands flailing in disbelief as I ranted on and on to David about how there was no justice, how it would certainly happen again, how we had just wasted two hours of our lives that we could never get back. His reaction was different, more quiet and kept inside.

It is what it is, I could hear his mother saying in her soft, Eastern Carolina accent.

I took the rest of the afternoon off, went for an uncharacteristic run and sat on my couch with the dogs cuddled close to me and a book in hand, the sunlight streaming in from the window behind me. Breathing in and out.

I'll let it go, I told myself. Not everything is black and white.

And it's not. But I wish I came away from the experience feeling like that kid understood, was sorry, would have one ounce of hesitation before getting into a car, let alone, racing again. I wish he knew that he will be with me forever. There forever in every third, fourth glance into the rearview mirror or blind spot, every turn that makes me shiver and brace myself for the blow—the inevitable blow of metal on metal.


Shauni said...

i cannot help myself, the one thing that stood out to me the most out of this wonderful, well written, perfectly said blog was that you WENT FOR A RUN??!?!?!?!?!?!

only half kidding,

Kerry Jumping said...

Love it! I feel like you and I are scarily alike. Firstly, because apparently neither of us can stomach injustice. I can imagine myself reacting the same way, except I'd be ranting all day to everyone in my Contacts. And secondly, because of this statement: "And because we were in court... I even let him slide for it."

It might be useful in the future to know that being held in contempt of court isn't really so bad, haha!