Back on an August late Saturday morning, I was driving north on Route 18. Speed limit is a strict 65mph on Route
18, but there is this one spot as you get further north where it shifts down to 55mph. I was cruising 75mph (already going over speed limit) but knew that shift was ahead, so I was preparing to tap the brake to shut my cruise control off and slow it down. I passed a huge pile of bushes and who’s hiding behind it – a cop with his speed gun waiting for a speeding sucker like me. He peeled out from the bushes and pulled me over.
When he walked up to me all he said was, “Go to court for this, otherwise it’s 4 points on your license.” Ugh…
So, a good month and a half later I have my court date. I had absolutely NO idea what this would entail, and it was 100x worse what I had ever imagined. I wore my most professional dress with a black blazer and heels. Brought my book since I figured I’d be there for a while and would need something to keep me occupied. I packed a snack with some water. I had my whole speech memorized (my boyfriend told me word-for-word what I needed to say to fix everything). Umm yea, none of any of this mattered.
At 6pm sharp the line of people outside of the courtroom were shuffled in by an old cop screaming at each and every one of us. Screaming, “Take out your phones people and shut em’ off right now! If I see any of them even in your hand when the judge comes out I’m takin’ it!” (He did actually take 3 cell phones out during the whole night) It’s freezing cold in the courtroom and the chairs squeak because of how old they are. I look around to see the interesting array of people who are all packed with me in this courtroom…quite a site. The cop starts screaming again, “Any books, newspapers or magazines are mine if you don’t put em’ away right now!” So…there goes my reading for the night. “Don’t even think about any food or drinks in this courtroom!” Awesome. At this point, I’m shaking, cold, hungry and miserable. I have NO idea what to expect when the judge comes out.
He finally does and everything was going so fast I didn’t have time to comprehend it all or figure out where I came into this whole thing. At one point the prosecutor cracked a joke to another girl around my age about her jail time for a speeding ticket not being for too long. The moments before the whole crowd broke out in laughter were moments of HELL for me when I thought he was serious. Uhh, NOT funny! The cops guarding the stand were miserable, mad and constantly yelling out to people. The judge and the other two people on the stand were cheerless and unpleasant. Everyone around me was tired and pissed off. I was enveloped in a room filled with negativity…something I’m not used to at all.
While sitting there, I realized how beautiful I’ve made my life within the past decade. I strategically make sure I surround myself with like-minded people, happy and positive activities. I start to deepen my breath and pull out my mala beads from my purse. They comfort me and always help me come back to my place of peace within me and just observe what’s going on around me. I started to feel compassion for most of the people in the room, including the ones that were being so mean to us.
My long night of court ended waiting in an even longer line outside the courtroom to the cashier. This included an entire line of angry people with even more cranky clerks behind the desk. I paid my money and got the hell out of there at 10:26pm.
The lesson I took away from the whole thing: Slow down, because if you don’t you may end up in an evil and angry court room once again. HA! No but for real, slow down. There was no reason to be going 20 miles over the speed limit that morning and I should have been easier on the gas pedal for not only my safety, but the other drivers around me. Beyond just driving fast, slowing down in other areas of my life. I want to welcome taking a break a few times a day while I work just to wind down and breathe. I want to focus on chewing my food well so that I can enjoy each bite. Little moments of slowing down to enjoy life even more than I already do. Life is funny how lessons come to us in such strange moments, ey?
Lauren Forney HHC, RYT founder of Center Your Health, is a Holistic Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher based in Red Bank, NJ.