Thursday, October 28, 2010


If I were to be arrested, what would happen to my kids? Who would take care of them? This is just one of many questions you have as a widow. Where there is no back-up (spouse or ex-spouse) around to help out… what happens, especially when I don’t even live close to my family.

I am sure the ‘right’ answer here is that I should not get arrested, so I should not have to worry about it… but sometimes… that is not as easy as it sounds.

About three years before Chris passed I was driving along a highway in a small neighboring town. I was driving very slowly looking for a particular house number. After driving up and down through the town a couple of times, I ended up with a police officer behind me. I was certain he was going to ticket me for my slow speeds. Imagine my surprise when he instead accused me of being over the speed by ten miles / hr. Was he kidding? He had to have the wrong white van. But – none the less a ticket was written. After getting the ticket I happened to find the house I was looking for, finished my business and headed home. I told Chris about the ticket when I got back home. He guessed accurately that the person who wrote my ticket would be the brother to the husband of the lady whose house I was just at (did you follow that?). When I discovered he was right – I was sure to mention the ticket next time I saw my friend. She said she would talk to her brother-in-law regarding the ticket. I was told to re-schedule my court date. I requested the re-schedule and waited. I heard nothing. I waited. Nothing. I called and asked if a new date had been set. They told me it would be coming in the mail. Nothing. I called again. They told me the same thing. Nothing. I finally gave up. I don’t know how these things work… so I assumed my friend’s brother-in-law had seen the error of his ways and dropped the ticket.

Fast forward three years. My husband has passed. I received a letter in the mail stating that my license will be suspended in 30 days due to failure to appear in court. That is it. No info on how to contact the court, appear in court. Nothing! I call the court office. I leave a message. No one returns my call. I call again and again. No response. I call the town’s ‘emergency’ number. I leave a message. Finally, I get a call back. Court is on Thursday. I ask where. They give me an address. I show up at the address on the day at the time I was told. No one is there. My cell phone is dying. I start making phone calls to any person I know that knows anything about the town I am in, hoping someone can help. I finally reach someone who is able to tell me I am in the wrong location. They have built a newer building outside of town. I arrive before court is over and I am the last one called up.

The judge has no mercy. He doesn’t care about my story. If I want my case to be heard, I will need to reschedule. If I reschedule I will have my license suspended in the meantime and with that comes not only the loss of a legal right to drive (hello… single mom with kids here), but I will have to pay additional fines to get it reinstated. With all the frustration of the situation, I inquired if he could tell me what happened three years prior that caused me to not be notified of when my court date was. He looked at the paperwork he had and said it appeared the notice was returned. I asked what address it was mailed to. He told me. Their clerk had sent it to the CORRECT street address in the WRONG town. Well, it seems the judge’s wife is the clerk and he didn’t want to hear anything about her being wrong. And since the cop that issued the ticket was his buddy… a buddy that would never issue a ticket unless it was deserved, I was out of luck. I pulled out a check book and asked how much he would like to take from the widow and the fatherless. I wrote the check. He gave me a receipt. I left.

Fast forward three weeks later. I am driving to see Chris’ cousin. I am on a road I have never been on before. It is a country road by appearance, no lines on the road – just trees around. I am driving about 50mph. I look in my rear view mirror… a cop. I pull over. He informs me the speed limit is 40mph. He goes to issue me a ticket, only to discover that my license has been suspended. They are taking me in! I have the three kids in the car with me. He doesn’t care what my story is either. He calls for back-up so they can tow my vehicle. I plead with him to call the judge. I paid the fine, and I am certain I made a big enough scene that the judge will remember me. I should not have my license suspended (unless a certain clerk is again unable to perform the duties of HER JOB!!). I frantically search my purse for the receipt the judge handed me. I can’t find it. I am overwhelmed with emotion. Fear. Frustration. Anger. The cop requests us to get in the back of his vehicle. The kids are crying. My youngest who is playing his Nintendo DS asks through his sobs if he can take it with him. I tell him of course. Take everything you want out of the car with you. The kids start walking towards the police car while I am one by one helping them gather their stuff. I glance behind me to see my youngest sobbing and staggering with tears down the middle of the road. I chastise the ‘arresting officer’ that the least he can do, if he is going to take me in, is assist so that my son doesn’t get hit by a car in the process. He jumped in to help. We squeeze into the back of the car. They kids comment that there are not seat belts. I comment loud enough for the cop to hear that they aren’t concerned about us or our safety. OBVIOUSLY. We sit in the back of the car waiting for back-up to arrive so they can stay with my vehicle until it is towed (ain’t that nice of ‘em). My mind is spinning, wondering what I am supposed to do. I say a prayer. I search my purse one more time. I had it. I knew I had it. I never clean out my purse. The receipt HAD to be in there. It was!! I found it!! It was probably the tenth time I looked – but I found it!!! I started screaming for joy. I believe the officer was relieved as well. We were released. I left with just a speeding ticket, a very strong distaste for ‘justice’, and a realization that getting arrested is not easy when you are a single mom!

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