Friday, October 9, 2009

People Watching - edited & toned down a bit


Recently I spent a few hours at our fair city's juvenile & domestic relations court. Even though I was called as a witness by finding a summons officially & professionally jammed in my screen door, I didn't end up having to testify. This is probably a good thing, as I can famously put my foot in my mouth on occasion, although I think (I hope) I wouldn't have blurted in this instance. But, I tell you, I was ready for it. All week, I had rehearsed how I would answer any question put to me. I was eloquent, I tell ya.

And, luckily for the young child involved, he is now back in the arms of the people who will love him & keep him safe.

But there was all that time in the waiting room. We've all been in enough waiting rooms to know that a distraction is needed. I didn't think that sitting there singing to myself was such a good idea. I believe there was another court down the hall for that kind of thing. And I didn't bring along anything to read, so I started watching the people coming & going through the lofty halls of justice. I think I even slouched down in my seat with my arms crossed so I could observe unobtrusively with lowered eyes. It was fun.

Well, I take that back. It wasn't fun. It was very disheartening & discouraging.

You: "Why?"

Me: "Because of what I saw"

You: "What did you see?"

Me: "Well, let me just tell you . . ."

I was struck, I tell you, STRUCK by seeing people appearing before a court of law who showed absolutely no respect at all for the situation they found themselves in.

I saw people who showed no respect for themselves.

I saw people who made no attempt to even try to present themselves in a positive light.

And this included some of the lawyers.

Let me elaborate:
  • People who looked like they just rolled out of bed and put on whatever rags they could find. Some didn't even brush their hair. Now, I know that poverty isn't uncommon amongst the denizens of the court system, but to make no attempt to look presentable? That I don't get.
  • Young men of all colors who looked like they just came from their gang's street corner - oversized shirts, pants halfway down their butt, underwear hanging out, swaggering down the hall.
  • Women who opted to put on the tightest clothes they could find. Unfortunately, most of them had also chosen to eat the worst things they could find, so their 'ample' curves were bulging & bursting around the seams. It was kind of like not being able to stop staring at an accident scene. I was kind of ashamed of myself.
  • Female lawyers dressed for a date instead of the courtroom, with spiked high heels.
What the hell??!!

I realize that everyone has their story. I am talking generalities here. But of all the times you would want to take a little extra effort, it seems to me that having to appear before a judge would be it. What happened to respect? Or am I such an oddball because I wouldn't dream of showing up looking like any of the above?

Wait, let me think on that . . . .

Nope, I may be odd, but I'm not THAT odd.

It was an eye-opening experience that left me pretty disgusted.


Rosie Hawthorne said...

I always read the court section of our newspaper. It's amazing how many actually show up intoxicated.

Anonymous said...

My son had a taste when he was called as a witness in high school. He was dressed in tie, but many of the others were as you described. He told me he felt that everyone looking at him thought he must have done something wrong. I said, "We both know you're here as a witness, and you are uncomfortable. Make sure you never have a reason to come here as a defendent." He never did. Probably not a bad idea to bring everyone in to see the sad circus. It might even save a few borderline people from crossing over to the troubled side.
Move over - you're taking up my half of the soapbox! ;-)

Judy said...

I accompanied a church acquaintance to her court hearing several years ago and had a similar experience. It didn't leave me disgusted though. It left me sad that there's so much pain and suffering and there are so many people who don't know how to even get out of that. And I always think, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Sista G said...

C, E and I have all seen that, too. C was in court in August testifying on behalf of the neighbor boy. He was ASTOUNDED as how unkempt and uncaring everyone looked and acted. He wore a shirtn tie, dress slacks and dress shoes, and everyone thought he was one of the attorneys! Like you, wouldn't you think you'd need to try to make a good impression to curry at least a small amount of favor??????? It doesn't make me sad, either, just disgusted, because everyone, and I mean everyone, has even one thing relative decent to wear, and can comb their hair with even a 3 for $1 comb. How amazing...

Kathy said...

Well, I did tone down my post a bit, because I originally branched off onto another soapbox about personal responsibility, blah blah blah. But that's for another day.

Most low income neighborhoods around here are teeming with thrift stores. You can find very cheap, clean & nice looking clothing for your day in court. Clean up, for Pete's sake.