It started off innocuously enough when the Boston Celtics won their 17th NBA Championship trophy. Cigars were procured to celebrate with Red, so we moved to the stoop. Unbeknown to us the stoop is considered "open container" territory and when a van of NY's "finest" came around the corner, they just had to spoil the fun. They wanted to know what we were smoking and why we had beers outside, then they decided to charge me (and only me) with an open container violation. I said I would just go back inside, but they had other ideas. In my state of combined revelry and annoyance, I challenged one of the cops to the effect of: "If you're going to give me an open container summons, you may as well give me one for littering." And promptly threw the cigar in the gutter.
To make a long story short, three cops made sure I remained rooted to my square of concrete and two summonses were produced; one for littering and one for—no, not open container—disorderly conduct. Let's just say I was fucking shocked and so was everybody else. Then the next night on that same corner two different cops wrote me up for riding my bike on the sidewalk. Yes, five feet off the sidewalk. I won't even go into this.
Anyway, the judge today had the good sense to dismiss the bike offense and the disorderly conduct (though I've gotta pay $50 for the littering, which is ample punishment for being an ass, I figure). Below are my recorded thoughts as I made my first trip to NYC Summons Court, hopefully to never return:
1:15pm: Leave work and head to 346 B'way. Court is actually at 108 Leonard. Proper start for bureaucratic adventure.
1:20pm: Get checked in after moving through security and waiting in line for a courtroom ticket. Now I have to wait until 2:15.
1:30pm: Snag a spot on the hallway floor. There are no benches and a fat/pregnant? mom is in the only chair. More families than I expected and right now I'm the only white guy. There was a professional, prep-school looking white guy in line earlier, but I overheard him trying to change his court date as he was going to be out of town on business. Typical.
1:40pm: Obviously I'm curious as to how all these forced loiterers ended up here. Were they drunk and disorderly? Was their bike on the sidewalk? This wait is going to suck.
1:45pm: I don't know if it was silly of me to bother wearing my nice shirt, but most of these folks just have t-shirts on. I was wrong, there is a thuggy white guy in here with a beater and blue bandana on. He and his two black cohorts keep talking about how their shit is just gonna be dismissed (ed. note: they weren't) I hope my shit just gets dismissed. I wanna go watch The Wire now. Half hour to go.
1:55pm: Whitey's talking loud about his time in the hole for slashing someone or other. Claims these are "new times" and jail's a young man's game. He's balding with a van dyke. Bics his head. Semi-retarded Mets fan traverses the hallway. I get a kick out of the clear delineations between the upper and lower levels of Mets fandom. Yankees fans aren't so clear cut.
2:00pm: Two white girls show up, well dressed but look like undercover troublemakers. I'm intrigued, though on second look they aren't really that attractive.
2:10pm: Court Room 3 opens up and everyone sits on benches. Hats and cellphones off says the McNulty.
2:20pm: To speed things up some of us are sent across the hall to courtroom 2. It smells like stale sweat in this room. This whole building reeks of "institution smell" and is remarkably plain, even for a government building. If I worked in here I'd splatter paint the walls with my own blood just to not look at off-white under fluorescent lights every goddamn minute.
2:30pm: My name is called and the judge and public defender do their thing which consists of the judge looking at the tickets, mumbling to himself and dismissing two out of the three. I'm relieved and rather than spend any more time in this hole, I agree to pay the $50 and leave.
2:45pm: Walk out the door of 108 Leonard and head back to work for another hour or so...