i put on my clean white shirt and a pair of black dress pants this morning and made my way down to the cambridge court house. the weather was cold, windy and wet, my glasses fogged up immediately as i got to the station. i passed through the metal detector at the court house and had to leave my digital camera behind (apparently no photography inside the building). i went up to the 15th floor and followed the direction on a sign that pointed to "traffic" (the other direction was "probation," i figured that wasn't the right way). the inside of the room was laid out like the DMV, counter arranged in a horseshoe-shape, with about 8 seats against the other end of the wall. half of the people waiting were asian, which did nothing to alleviate the stereotype of asians being bad drivers. some people were dressed up (like myself) while others wore their street clothes. on the other side of the counter were mostly women, the kind of seasoned office worker with their loud talk and strong perfume. to them the court house is just a job, and they joked around like people do at work, except their work seemed quite serious, and the people who were coming in, if they weren't waiting to contest a traffic violation, then they were there trying to file a restraining order (it wasn't all about the traffic). at one side of the room was a wall of color-coded folders, which surprised me, because i figured everything would be done by computers these days. there were half a dozen people ahead of me and i waited patiently for my turn.
when my name was finally called, i was led to a high-walled cubicle (not even a real office). i couldn't help but notice the amazing view of cambridge and boston from the window, but i didn't have my camera with me. i met two men, one a court magistrate, the other a police representative (who was also a cop). i thanked them for seeing me, and the magistrate quipped, "we really don't have a choice in the matter." the police had the original copy of my ticket and on the back the officer who originally fined me wrote a long paragraph describing what happened. as the police started to read the paragraph, he laughed and read it more slowly, so both the magistrate and i could fully appreciate what was being said. "an elderly woman," he read and chuckled, "was 3/4 of the way across the crosswalk, when the motorist swerved around her and made a turn." "elderly woman?" the magistrate asked the officer, almost to confirm that he heard correctly. i threw up my hands and said, "yeah, elderly woman." they both shooked their heads and chuckled. "and you're trying to contest this?" the police asked. i then explained my side of the story, and showed them the photos i took of the street. "i'm not sure what i can do here," the magistrate said, waving to the ticket on the table, and looking at the officer to see if he had anything to say. "yeah, sorry, nothing we can do," the officer said, then got up to make a phone call on his cellphone ("i have to nextel," he told us), leaving just me and the magistrate.
i sat there for a few seconds, trying to think of what else i could say. the magistrate was a nice guy though, and said, "well, the most i can do is to reduce your fine by half, but it'll still go on your record." i said i'd take it, and then he scribbled something on a form and gave it to me. he told me with my spotless driving record, the insurance company might take that into consideration when they readjust my premium. at that point i told him i just have a motorcycle, and he looked at me very serious all of a sudden. "yeah, just a small motorcycle, that i ride around during the summer, to save on gas," i continued, hoping that maybe riding a motorcycle might get more leniency. instead, he gave me a mini-lecture about how dangerous motorcycles are, and that he's seen a lot of terrible motorcycle accidents. i thanked him for the advice, took the form, thanked the officer (who nodded to me while still on the phone), and left the office. waiting for the elevator, a man walked out from the probation side of the building. i was tempted to ask him what he was in for, but decided to just play it cool and say nothing. down at the groundfloor i retrieved my camera and left the court house. i went to the kendall house of pizza (my old haunt, back from my SRM days) and got a large steak tips sub (a little bit over $6), bringing it home for lunch.
i did some bug fixes for SRM before the pre-delivery code freeze. i thought about going running but it started to hail a little bit and i got lazy. since today was the last day of january, this officially means that i didn't do any running for the entire month. i feel pretty out-of-shaped. walking up the escalator in porter square, i was out of breath by the time i got to the top (in my defense, those are LONG escalators). i need to get back to my running schedule again. what's tomorrow like? traditionally wednesday is one of my running days. anyway, no longer having to work crazy hours, i didn't know what to do with myself. when evening rolled around, i heated up the other half of my sub and ate it for dinner while watching the gilmore girls followed by the state of the union address. the SOTU was sort of boring, so i took the opportunity to wash the pile of dishes in the kitchen sink (i've been so busy this past week, didn't even have time to clean the dishes) and to throw out the trash. tomorrow: nice and easy with some running.