You have the right to remain…sarcastic

I went to the courthouse last Wednesday on my lunch hour to pick up some legal documents a friend needed for teaching. And yes – by “friend,” I actually mean friend and not myself. I’ve never gotten in trouble with the law a day in my life. I feed the homeless and cut up all my six-pack plastic soda rings. I read a book a day. Non-fiction.

Nothing says "non-fiction" like a reading bear.

First off, what is it about pulling up to a courthouse that makes you desperately wish you had reviewed a driving manual before you had left? I turned onto the street and it was suddenly an all-out panic. Am I going the speed limit? What’s a speed limit!? HOW DO I BUCKLE THIS SEAT BELT?! Basic motor skills, Cass, basic motor skills. You GOT this. Ahhh, which way is left!!!??
 

In my mind, there’s a sniper at the top floor window of the courthouse just waiting for someone to turn into a parking spot without using their blinker, plotting the moment he can take aim with a devilish smile, thinking, Gotcha, no-blinker McGee. Hope you paid your taxes, cuz the line’s a mile long where you’re going.

Just walking up the front steps sent shivers down my spine. The businesslike clickity-clack of my heels was in perfect rhythm with the words repeating in my mind. Don’t look back, don’t look back. I could feel bystanders’ eyes burning accusatory holes into my back, thinking:

What did she do wrong THIS time? The real crime should be that derriere looking so great in those slacks. Why is this turkey sandwich so dry? (Well, can’t always be the center of attention. It was lunchtime, after all.)

Yup. Not having the guilt of ever getting in trouble a day in my life sure felt good.

I’m a reasonably mature, (can I emphasis again) level-headed adult, so I wasn’t afraid to ask for directions once inside.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

“Yes, I’m here to pick up important documents. They’re for a friend,” I say. The story instantly sounds flimsy.

I pointedly look down at my formal work attire and aspiring work badge and put on my most winning smile as if to say, “Do I look like the type of person who would get into trouble?” My eyes twinkle with the rest of a responsibly-acquired, eight-hour night’s sleep.

The woman smiles back, a knowing “God, you’re amazing” smile – surely not to be confused with her “I get this all the time and see right though you” smile – and directs me upstairs. I hear something about a metal detector and security guard in my concerted efforts to appear Christian, mentally stable and like the type of person who regularly showers.

I find the metal detector and the security guard.

“Ma’am, do you have a cell phone?” I was clearly holding a bright red cell phone. “You can’t take that in with you.”

I gasp in dismay. What kind of atmosphere was the office two feet away that phones were restricted? With appalled scrutiny, I notice the lighting beyond the guard isn’t fluorescent. Instead, the office is bathed in a welcoming, warm glow and candy (assorted fun-sized candy bars– they had splurged on the good stuff) overflowed from the front desk jar. In the distance, the department manager lazily laid across a hammock, eating plump grapes from the hands of a voluptuous assistant.

Hum. Good to see our taxpayers’ dollars at work.

I see a set of trays and try to hand my phone to the security guard to place in a tray. “Iiiii don’t want your phone,” he sneers.

Good, because I don’t want you to have it, either, I think stubbornly. Prolly get it all sticky.

“See that locker behind you? You can put it there. Do you need your purse?”

It’s like he’s never met a woman before. Which, thinking back, he clearly hasn’t.

“Uhh, I guess not,” I say, officially thrown aback. I put everything in the locker and try to close it.

“You need a quarter,” he says impatiently, as if I should have known because I was the one who had built and engineered the locker’s very design.

We all knew I didn’t have a quarter. He sighed in irritancy for approximately five minutes.

“I’ve been sitting here all day,” he says. Huh, funny, because I feel like I’ve been sitting there all day.

What does that even imply?! I scream in my head. Yes, ok. You seem like the kind of guy who wants to help a girl out. Sign me up to owe you a favor, oh, mighty master and keeper of the courthouse. You and that Subway sandwich that you seem to have no trouble making love to right in front of me. That sounds delightful!

Prolly steal my purse and get it all covered in ranch.

I resignedly half shut the locker door and after two attempts and the loss of some accessories, make it through the metal detector, but not before encountering more sighing. If I lost my personal belongings, at least I would walk out of there with a gold medal for biggest burden in this man’s life. (If you’re wondering, my acceptance speech will probably go something like this: “Oh, gosh. Thank you. THANK YOU! This is all so unexpected. There are so many people who helped me get to where I am. First, my friend, for asking me to come here. I couldn’t have done it without you. Second, my immense hunger, which turned me into the impatient, famished spectacle I am today…Oh, and of course, you, angry security guard. Without you and your snide remarks, this most celebrated, momentous day would not have been possible.”)

After I was cleared, I walk into the office only to discover I was in the wrong department.

“Why did your friend send you here if you don’t know what you’re doing?” he asks as I sheepishly walk past him again. I fervently wish I had forgotten to use my blinker outside. If this wasn’t my worst nightmare, I’d have been sure it was hell.

He then gave me directions to the correct office, which was conveniently located down the hall and to the right, but not before coming across a rickety bridge under which a boiling lava river teemed with piranhas. Ironically, the department was also only accessibe by way of completing a Sunday word puzzle, making the perfect soufflé and finding the kidnapped princess after a series of harrowingly dangerous adventures in which I could only use a paperclip, rubber band and bobby pin for weaponry. 

If there was ever a time I needed Martha Stewart's cooking and jail-time prowess...

AND I had to go through the metal detector again.

I refused to be broken.

Upon gathering the documents from the first floor, the clerk tells me that she has spoken with the security guard and I can go get my purse to pay the fees. I wince, wishing desperately I could teleport to the locker and back unnoticed.

Instead, I go through the metal detector. The wrong way. By accident, of course. It beeps loudly in dismay, echoing my mistake unforgivingly across the cold marble floor. I freeze, shoulders hunched.

Yikes.

The security guard quite possibly has a stroke. I couldn’t tell because his bulging eyes and beads of frustrated sweat were becoming the day’s norm for me. 

“DID YOU NOT SEE THE EXIT SIGN?” he yells, unnecessarily loudly. I mean, I’m right there. I’m still the only one right there.

I did not. In my closed-eyed wishing, no, I somehow totally missed the strategically placed exit sign that is the size of a pencil eraser, written in some fancy French script that’s barely legible and conveniently located three feet outside the area I’m supposed to exit.

I look around confusedly, playing it off like he’s talking to someone else. Daggers shoot from his eyes. Paradoxically, they are probably the only weapons he’s legally allowed to use for his job.

“Oh, me? You’re talking to me? Whoops! Just came to grab my purse. Need to pay for these documents. They’re important, and for a friend,” I say helpfully. I’m afraid to turn my back, as I am indefinitely moments away from getting tased and/or arrested.  I reach behind me and fumble for the right locker and purse, never breaking eye contact. Daring to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Desperately wanting to steal his delicious-looking sandwich and run.

“Oh, and I don’t appreciate you putting words in my mouth. I never said you couldn’t have your purse. Hundreds of women walk through here every day with purses,” he says pointedly. 

“You’re right. I’m so dead wrong. I apologize profusely,” I say with a sticky sweetness capable of conjuring up cavities. “How could you asking if I need my purse after saying I can’t have my phone possibly imply that I couldn’t have my purse either? Wow, I’m dumb! SO dumb!” I say, chuckling. “What are we going to do with me, right? Right?!”

As he rifles roughly through my things, he pulls out a camera from my purse. “What’s this?”

“A. Camera.”

I speak slowly and softly, as if he is a newborn child.

“See, it takes pictures. Like in storybooks? Hey, we should take a picture together! This is a moment I don’t want to forget! New Facebook profile pic! Best buds. …Best buds?” I ask brightly.

Best Buds 4-Eva!

He throws me my purse and glares his disapproval.

I go back through the metal detector.

As I’m paying in the department, I smile innocently and tell the clerks to pray for the mean, joyless security guard. My teeth shine with bright clarity, emphasizing my dependable nature and love for puppies, freedom and giving all my belongings to the poor.

As I leave, I make an exaggerated effort to notice the exit area by imitating an overly obese person accidentally colliding with the cloth fencing material and sign and getting caught in them. I fake surprise and mouth “Ahhhh!!,” arms flailing, hoping to get a dry laugh or two.

Nothing.

I straighten my formal work attire and clear my throat awkwardly.

“Thank you SO very much for your time and assistance – it’s MUCH appreciated,” I say, selfless and kindly. Humbly. I sneak a peek at the guard.

Still nothing. He pretends I do not exist. I think about asking about my gold medal, but then recall the week’s $5 foot-long special from Subway he cheated on his wife with earlier that day and realized he probably does not splurge on medals for customers, no matter how wholesome and fiscally responsible they may be.

I get in my car and heave a sigh of relief. I am halfway home before I realize I left my phone in the locker.

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16 responses to “You have the right to remain…sarcastic

  1. Halarious!
    I’m so glad I clicked on your Freshly Pressed and found this blog – I’ve spent hours on it.
    I would have loved to meet that security guard…
    🙂
    Brilliant work.

  2. Ha ha ha ha, I laughed so hard at that. You definitely deserved Freshly Pressed for your other post, because without it I would never have come to your blog.

  3. Attention-grabbing views on that!

  4. Now i’m delighted which i found this page, the proper advice which i was looking for!

  5. Courthouses are a pain with some security guards on ego trips! Look, you’re better than a mall cop, but do you have to yell at me for everything?!

    If it makes you feel any better, when I was a legal intern, I had to go to court with my boss. We both were headed to the metal detector at the same time. Now, apart from the whole ‘no highlighters, cameras, pencils’ and a seriously long list of things from the obvious (weapons) to stupid (highlighter), I had a phone issue too . . . See, they’re so afraid of people trying to record footage in a courtroom, that they won’t allow camera phones. Well, go ahead – try to show me someone whose cell phone doesn’t have a camera!! Usually lawyers are allowed through, no big deal. But this woman decided to go all out on me, and get a huge attitude. I said nothing, but looked at my boss – who told her ‘she’s with me, it’s fine’ and she’s all ‘you’re refusing to put the phone in a locker’ and going on and on . . . I told her I hadn’t said anything, and she kept going. So, I told my boss that it’s okay, I would go pay for a stupid locker. So.ridiculous.

    • Well, the joke’s on them, because I had a tiny camera hidden within the non-metal regions of a tres chic brooch I happened to be wearing that day. Yup. Caught EVERYTHING on camera. EV-ER-Y-THING (hint: security guard’s handsy relationship with his lunch). And now to put together a seamless plan to blackmail him into buying me Subway sandwiches for life. Muahahahahaha!!!

      But seriously. Your story brings me comfort. It at least lowers my blood pressure to a healthy “your head’s not going to spontaneously combust” level. Keep fighting the good fight against surly governmental workers!

  6. I think you should go back to that security guard’s area with a backpack full of cameras and telephones – mostly rotary-dial landline phones, maybe a telegraph machine. Go through each of them one by one. “What about this phone? Mm-hm. And this one? Oh. This one?”

    Sorry about your run-in, though. There is nothing in the world quite like a bureaucratic petty tyrant.

    • Do you think we’re at the point where I could hand him a walkie-talkie and we could be walkie-talkie buds?

      …nah. Stupid. Stupid! He seems like the old-school “cups on the end of a string” type of guy. Come on, Cassie. Get your head in the game.

      Thanks for your sympathy, by the way! He is SO not getting a fruit basket for Christmas.

  7. And to think it is all on camera…..prolly will play it at their Christmas party for entertainment…………….catered by Subway of course.

    • I only hope they can identify my name for the end credits – I only had to put my work badge in the tray RIGHT NEXT to the security guard about 5,000 times while I went through the metal detector. Was that enough? I mean, I’m basically depending on “security guard” to be synonymous with “Nancy Drew.” Because we all know it’s not synonymous with “CIA.” Because, well – courthouse security guard. Right?

      So I guess in conclusion, we can assume there won’t be rolling credits. But there will be roll-on-the-floor laughter. And in the spirit of Christmas, by God – that’s ok by me.

  8. I think your friend owes you big.

  9. This is hilarious! You really write humor well.

    • Thank you! I must admit, it took a few days for this situation to be funny, as I was in tears by the time I made it to my car in real life! Not that any of this story is made up…ahmmm…. 😉

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