Enduring crippling and awful public situations ranks as perhaps my favorite thing in the world. And today I had such the experience as I went to Philadelphia Traffic Court in an attempt to have several tickets I recieved cancelled. (I received four tickets after making an illegal left/not having the right paperwork in the car and was pulled over after I was forced by Em and Tab to drive them home as part of my job as their sexual manservant.)
Philly Traffic Court is located at the beautiful intersection of 8th and Spring Garden, conveniently located near Philly's best restaurant, the Spaghetti Warehouse. I drove around looking for a non-metered parking space and eventually found one underneath one of the dozens of "rape tunnels" populating the area just to the west of Northern Liberties.
Upon entering traffic court, patrons are forced to go through a metal detector. When I was in line, a woman of unclear ethnicity cut me in line and started screaming at one of the court officers about her lost pair of scissors. They were returned to her which caused her to explain, "Yo, I need these real bad just in case something happens, y'know?"
After making it through security, I entered the main lobby of traffic court. I immediately wished that I, too, brought a sharp pair of scissors with me because the likeliness of "something happening" was through the roof. The crowd had a terrific combination of natural violent tendencies mixed in with the constant agitation of dealing with shitty city government services. The eyes of traffic court employees told the story of a people resigned to employment in the worst place possible while enduring the constant threat of being punched in the throat due to the impoundment of a car.
I then went to the room to get my tickets cancelled. The clerk was busy on her cellphone, chomping gum, and finished up her giggling conversation. I handed her my summonses and told her that they were to be cancelled. She looked at them and then at me and said "I can't fucking help you with this shit."
Next, I went back to the main lobby where I had to go to customer service. A big sign warns patrons to have their ID present with them. This is so when you show a clerk your ID card she can order you to go to the broken down and outdated photocopy machine as they will only accept a copy of your license. The copier requires fifty cents to operate which, naturally, I did not have.
Luckily, a change machine (which takes ten cents of your change as a "service charge) sat in the front of traffic court. However, it was inoperable. I then bought a delicious Coca-Cola from the machine and tried to return to traffic court. The officer refused to let me enter, telling me I had to go through the metal detectors again and that I was also not allowed to bring in my delicious Coca-Cola. I had to hide my drink behind the vending machine in order to enjoy taste satisfaction later.
I now returned to the customer service line. Here, I waited behind a 65-year-old man who started shouting to the clerk "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? MY NAME IS TONY FERGLETTI!" repeatedly. The clerk said she did not know who he was. "MY EX-WIFE IS SUZANNE LUPICA! SHE WORKED HERE FOR THREE YEARS? DO YOU KNOW HER? OH. WELL HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF HER? I KNOW CLAUDETTE!" This remarkable conversation lasted for 12 minutes while I waited and watched.
When I went to the clerk with my summonses, she stared at me and asked if my car was impounded. I told her it was not. "Well it should be!" she yelled, cracking up one of her skanky co-workers.
She then asked me for such things as my birthday and address (even though I wrote them down for her) and yelled at me when I did not give her an immediate response military style. This was a refreshing change of pace of how I am usually treated by people. Under most circumstances, I am granted both dignity and respect by others. But the clerk at traffic court took the time out of her day to scold and mock me in a public setting.
She also told me she could be of no help to me. So she gladly gave me a court date in October.
I then decided I wanted to see what traffic court was lke. There are a few courtrooms in the facility with actual judges and everything. I saw a chamber where a case was being decided. I sat down and then listened to the sad tale of a 26-year-old wearing a t-shirt with explosive airbrush writing on it who claimed his belief he was suffereing from cardian arrest caused him to go over 70 MPH on Broad Street.
The judge turned to me in the middle of the hearing and asked me who I was. I told him my name and that I had a date in a few weeks and I wanted to find out what to expect in court.
"You can expect to go to jail," he replied, cackling with the power of a low-level municipal jurist. I then returned to the rape tunnel and drove home.