Yesterday was fun. I'm sure y'all remember the crazy neighbor with the dogs running loose, right? After multiple calls from many neighbors, Animal Control decided to file a criminal complaint against my neighbor or, more specifically, her adult daughter who lives with her. No idea how they chose the daughter over the mother, maybe the animals were in her name, but didn't really care much either. One of the neighbors was subpoenaed to appear in court to testify and she called me to see if I would also come.
So after weeks of waiting, yesterday was the court date. Now I hadn't set foot in the courthouse for twelve years, my last visit being over an expired inspection - I got off. My vague recollections were that it was not a very fun place but nothing was going to stand in my way. The directions I received were to go to 215 Church. I went into the first building I saw with this address. There should be only one, right?
Looking around, it seemed I might be in the wrong place. As I scanned for some civil servant with whom to inquire, a sweatsuited, flip flop wearing fellow citizen asked me where government office X was. (I can't remember exactly where she was headed - I was busy being lost.) So I politely told her that I was utterly clueless and was indeed lost myself. While she exited the building, I found a clerk who informed me I was next door to the Courthouse, which was where I needed to be.
Making my way out, I again found my sweatsuited friend, with two compatriots in tow. As if the previous conversation, which was, max, two minutes earlier, had never happened, they proceeded to ask me where government office X was again. I decided to go with the exact same answer, word for word. The irony was lost on them.
Arriving at the proper 215 Church, I passed through the security and made my way upstairs to find my destination. I rounded a corner to find a sea of humanity, many of whom seemed to be in pajamas. Were you playing the Sesame Street game, one of these things is not like the other, you would have instantaneously identified me.
Then I saw the Animal Control officers and found Officer Leone who, in addition to having been a lifeguard at the Club back in the day, was on a first name basis with me after all the dog run-ins over the past year. We chatted and my neighbor, who was also testifying, showed up, displaying visible anticipation. "Isn't this exciting!" she gushed.
As we were ushered into the courtroom and found seats, I quickly realized we were the only two people in the room who had positive feelings about the day and the Animal Control Officers. During the quickly resolved cases, most people just pled guilty, I heard mumblings all around me to the effect of, "That is the motherf***er who came to my house and busted me." Hmm, I was beginning to wonder if I might need an escort out.
When our neighbor was next in line to plead guilty, we were instructed to switch to another courtroom. Curses. At this point, my defendant neighbor, we'll call her Pam, saw me for the first time and delivered what could best be described as a withering look.
The good news was that Pam was first up in the new courtroom as well. Before he even spoke with us, the Judge was letting Pam know how irresponsible she was. How most people would contain their pets after one visit from Animal Control and she had four complaints since September. Seriously, no one in the twenty cases I got to see before her had been dressed down this way.
He then asked if we had anything to add. I regaled him with our encounters from the last year including how the dog bit Maggie's foot (and their response was to post a "McKernans keep out sign,") how the dogs would chase the kids out of the street, trap them in the driveway, chase joggers, be waiting for me in the garage, and rip apart our recycling, spreading it in the yard. While I, politely, ranted, he shook his head and at one point facepalmed.
A hefty fine and a warning that next time is the last time and we were out of there. I do not, however, think I am winning any popularity contests with Pam.
On a side note, as I exited the courthouse, another person came up to me and asked where something was. In spite of being utterly out of my element, I clearly looked like I was in the know.
[PS Spell check seems to be on the fritz. If this post is riddled with errors, you can see how much I depend on it!]