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Painting traffic court in a new light

Life was shifting into high gear … or so I thought.

I was on my own, moving into my first apartment. I enlisted the help of the biggest and burliest guys I knew, bribing them with pizza and soda.

We loaded up a rented trailer, hitched it up to my dad’s car. My second-hand two-door simply did not have the horsepower to haul.

The brawn-squad helped me lug boxes and bags and a few furniture cast-offs into the trailer.

Finally, it was time to go. The manly movers piled into another car, loaded with lamps, plants, and my brother’s hand-me-down stereo. I shifted my little machine into drive, and we were off.

Not so fast, girl.

Maybe I was a little too eager to move into my new digs. As I headed for the highway, with all my belongings in tow, I may have overextended the speed limit a little bit.

The squad car appeared in my mirrors, and I searched for a spot to pull over.

As the police officer handed me a traffic citation, I realized that this move was going to be more costly than I had anticipated.

“If you show up in court,” he explained, “the judge will probably keep your record clean. Then your insurance rates won’t go up.”

Waiting on the bench.

Two weeks later, I appeared in traffic court. For an hour and a half, I sat and watched and listened, as one driver after another attempted to negotiate with the frustrated judge. I started to zone out a bit, as the morning stretched on. It seemed the bailiff would never call my name.

Just then, I heard a familiar name, although I could hardly believe it. I noticed the rest of the court attendees sitting up a little straighter than before and turning to pay attention to the proceedings.

Was it really the same man? The car-painting guy? I wondered. The one with all those tacky television and radio ads? “I’ll paint any car, any color for just $99.95!” he’d shout.

Yep, it was him!

Only he wasn’t shouting now.

After the paint king, several other drivers took their turns, paid their fines, and left the court. The crowd was dwindling, as the clock kept ticking.

Then I heard another name I recognized.

I looked around, seeking the summoned one. Four rows ahead of me, my former driver education teacher stood and approached the judge.

“How do you plead?” the judge asked.

“Guilty, Your Honor,” the teacher said.

That’s all I needed to hear. If the judge got tough with me, I could always blame it on my lead-footed driver education teacher!

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