The image above shows a clock mounted to Courtroom #2 at the City of Houston Municipal Courthouse. The room was packed – standing-room only – with people seated on long wooden pews that had probably been in the room as long as the building had existed. The linoleum was cracked and discolored, but polished and waxed to a high sheen. The wood paneling on the walls had the patina of hand grease and worn spots from the innumerable people who had leaned against the walls over the decades. Time itself had lost any meaning in the room, as the hands and various numerals of the clock face had dropped off, lost to the flow of history like flotsam in the sea. Maybe they need money for a new one? Perhaps this is why Houston Police Department writes so many tickets? A short synopsis of my Traffic Ticket Trial:
7:55 AM – The restroom unpleasantly reeks of the various effluvia from its former occupants.
8:00 AM – Some people seem to be actively praying. Luckily, most of them are seated in pews.
8:05 AM – Acknowledgements to roll-call from bailiff are weak-voiced, muted and pitiful.
8:05 AM – Maybe because all the bailiffs & clerks are really very unhappy and angry people?
8:10 AM – Incomprehensible inability to follow the “Turn-Off-Your-Cell-Phone-Now” rule.
8:15 AM – Approximately 99% of the conversations with bailiff begin with the question; “¿Hablas Español?”
8:30 AM – Approximately 99% of the conversations in the pews begin with the question; “¿Qué dijo?”
8:30 AM – Attorneys begin arriving, most of them dressed shabbily. For shame. Shine your shoes, dude.
8:45 AM – Attorneys talking with clients: “Well, what do you want to do?” Blank stares in return.
8:50 AM – Realize I’m in a time machine that got stuck in the 1960’s. Wood paneling, linoleum, suspended ceiling.
9:00 AM – The edges, armrests and seats on the pews all have that warm patina of frequent use over long time. Disgusting.
9:00 AM – Guy who showed up at 9:00 is being berated by the bailiff. For missing the start of court. Seriously.
9:15 AM – At least two women are discreetly applying their makeup. Too late. We saw how you really look.
9:30 AM – My paperwork says court starts at 8:00 am. It is now 9:30. I think my case should be dismissed.
9:35 AM – 4 different men answer to the name Miguel Gonzalez. It takes the better part of 15 minutes to sort out.
9:40 AM – Really old black guy. Really old, gravelly voice. Great name. Chester Tubbs.
9:40 AM – One dude has shown up in sweat pants, slippers and a soccer jersey. I predict jail time.
9:45 AM – My attorney discovered a technical mistake on my traffic citation. My case is being dismissed. Yay, me! I was innocent anyway.