Thursday, October 13, 2005

Annual income? Zip

You want to know what Magistrates’ Court in Woking is like, on a Monday morning in early October? Here ya go.

I was waiting in line, upstairs in the courthouse waiting area. Well, I wasn’t really in the queue anymore -- I’d been processed already. But I couldn’t sit down. I was too tense, worrying about whether my Woking police report was going to show up in time -- for me to be tried, to get back to Ascot to pick up my luggage, and to grab a cab to Heathrow for my 7:05 flight to Jo’burg. So I was (calmly) pacing around, lurking near reception so I’d be aware when my file arrived. If it did.

But I also had something else to worry about this morning. When I checked in with reception, and the woman asked what I was charged with, I answered, “Drink/drive.”

She replied, “And lack of insurance?”

Insurance? INSURANCE!!!! Bl-----dy effin’ heck, no one said anything about INSURANCE! I couldn’t believe it.

“Hey, I DID have insurance. I DO have insurance! No one said anything about charging me about insurance. And the police didn’t tell me to bring in my insurance certificate.”

“Oh, well, it’s standard procedure. Usually people don’t carry their insurance certificate in the car with them. So ordinarily, the police charge you with drink/drive AND lack of insurance. That way, you have to prove you have insurance when you show up.” My heart sank.

My GOD. I wracked my brain. I KNEW no one had mentioned insurance.... although.... now that I thought about it, Aphrodite had mentioned that while she was in the Honda, while the officer drove her home, he had asked her if I was insured to drive that car.

Aphrodite, my darling daughter, had been indignant. Coolly indignant, of course, but still. “Of COURSE she’s insured! You should hear, she’s given my older brothers the ‘what-for’ about insurance so many times it’s not even funny. She’s a complete stickler about that. No one can drive our cars unless they’re insured. It’s absolutely no joke in our family.”

I thought about that, and I tried to relax. Thinking that surely someone would have told me about the insurance charge before now, if there was one. Really, it didn’t seem likely, given how kind and helpful the Woking police had been.They wouldn’t have charged me, I didn’t think, without making it quite clear. But now I no longer had my own copy of my charge sheet. I’d left it with the crabby magistrate in Redhill, so I couldn’t be sure. Grrrr.

Are you good at dealing with anxiety? You think so?

Try worrying about this stuff. It does put things in perspective, that’s for sure. And still, even, it all could have been so so much worse. Someone could have ended up dead, something awful could have happened. An irreparable mistake might have been made. This was not SO SO bad, in the vast scheme of things.

I saw the duty solicitor, lovely man, who explained what would most likely happen. I had to fill out a “Means” form, where you describe your financial situation (income,outgo). Hmmm, how much do I spend on electricity per month? council tax? shoes? cappuccinos? (not really those last two!) What’s my yearly income? Zero? (Ooooh. Hopefully Mr. D enjoys my company, because I sure don’t contribute much financially. More of fiscal DRAIN, don’t you agree? Especially today.) Then the duty solicitor sent me back out, to wait.

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