Sunday, February 26, 2012

backroom deals

sometimes people make fun of southerners. as a matter of fact, i've been one of those people on numerous occasions. it's kind of like making blonde jokes. they're just fun to tell even though they clearly don't represent every person who falls into the broad category.

but there are reasons for those jokes. there's a legitimate justification for some of them. let me just tell you a little story.

when i was 20, i was living in north carolina, and i'd been driving for 3 years. i'd gotten my first ticket a few months before and i'd gone to stupid traffic court in georgia because i'd been traveling when i got tagged for speeding.

i was trying to find a back way to work in an effort to avoid the jammed up highway, but i got lost and ended up far away from my target destination, somewhere out in the sticks in south carolina. once i crossed the state line, i realized that i was going to be late for work. this was before cell phones were in every pocket so i had no way to call, and being the responsible person that i was, i got sweaty and anxious at the thought.

my natural reaction was to find a spot to turn around and then floor it. i was going to find my way back to civilization as fast as possible. i bet you can guess what happened next. . .

oh yes, i got nabbed for speeding. again. i didn't cry, but i may possibly have used some bad language under my breath.

the cop was polite and gave me a little lecture about the dangers of a lead foot. my push up bra and batted eyelashes were definitely not getting me out of this one. i was given a court date a month later in some dinky town in south carolina of which i'd never heard.

i showed up for my court appearance, dressed nicely and ready to speak articulately in hopes that i could get some leniency from the judge. i knew what to expect because i'd just been to court in georgia and sat through hours of watching and listening just a few months before.

when i got to the address shown on the ticket, i felt sure i was in the wrong place. i drove up and down the road looking for a court house, but there was no building that looked like what i was expecting. so i pulled up to a ratty looking little building with a small state seal on the front door and a hand-written sign that said to go around to the back. there were no other cars in the parking lot except one broken down pickup in the back of the lot.

i walked solemnly around the building, feeling a little nervous about what i might find. there was a door in the back, hanging slightly ajar. i tapped on it hesitantly and slowly pushed it open. i heard a male voice holler out, "cmon ee-in."

in front of me was a small metal desk with a large man sitting on a folding metal chair. he looked at me expectantly so i held out my ticket by way of an explanation for my presence.

the man picked up a mtn dew bottle that had the top half cut off. he was moving his jaws around oddly like a cow chewing cud, then he brought the converted bottle/cup to within a few inches of his mouth and spit out a stream of brown slime, most of which made it into the container. he wiped his hands on his pants and reached out for my ticket.

my eyes were bugging out and i was experiencing a rare moment of speechlessness.

the man looked over my ticket and announced the fee i would be required to pay in order to make it go away. i wrote a check and set it on the desk. he took it in his meaty, brown-stained hand, scribbled my name and the check amount onto a post-it note and stuck the post-it to a grubby clipboard that was lying haphazardly on the desk.

he smiled, showing his rotten brown teeth and said, "thankeevermush." with a nod, i was dismissed. he looked back down at the magazine on his desk and i was free to go.

for months afterwards i was sure that i'd get a nastygram in the mail rebuking me for not tending to my traffic ticket. but apparently, the little backroom exchange with man with questionable hygiene was the real deal.

either that, or there's an outstanding warrant for my arrest in south carolina.


  1. "My Cousin Vinnie"
    Entertainment or documentary?
    Probably both.

  2. Did you ever get the sense that these people think you are odd for thinking they are odd? I got that a lot when I lived in Arkansas for a while.

  3. Haha, I loved this story Sherilin, you're right that it's okay to make jokes about Southerners and blondies especially when you understand that they're not all like that, so long as nobodies feelings are hurt then it's okay in my eyes in all honesty.

  4. oh my god, Sherilin--that was a good story! My jaw was hanging open for most of it.

  5. And strangely that sounds exactly like what I envision would happen when I cross the Kansas state line into Missouri. I'm thinking its best not to go into South Carolina unless you have to!

  6. That story is freakin' awesome. Gotta love small towns... especially the southern ones.

  7. That would have weirded me out I think. Sounds like something out of Deliverance (ok, not that bad)
    My hubby has a lead foot too,..and just last year had 2 tickets.
    I am his constant co-pilot always reminding him of the speed.


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