Money has been a serious issue for several years now. Back in November 2013, I was pulled over for speeding. Much to my shock, I found out I was also driving on a suspended license for an unpaid fine from driving on expired tags in 2012. We were driving on expired tags because we could not afford them at the time. I was ticketed, rightfully, for breaking the law. Sadly, breaking the law because you are poor only digs you a deeper hole to get out of. After getting the ticket, we renewed the tags and mailed in the payment. Or so I had thought up until that police officer pulled me over.
Having just finished dropping my fiance at the airport for a flight to Tennessee, and since it is his car, the car had to be impounded. The officer waited with me for at least an hour while I tried calling people to come and pick me and the girls up allowing him to actually impound it. That was another bomb: getting the car out of the impound. I was completely unaware how costly it is to sit a car idle in a parking spot.
At court for my speeding ticket and driving under suspension, the judge was extremely lenient with fines, assessing only $10 for driving 17 mph over the limit and $50 for the driving under suspension. Unfortunately court costs bumped that total up to over $300. When I couldn’t pay for it right then and there, I was very conveniently offered a payment plan to break up the amount I owed. That convenience cost more money, but when you don’t have any money to start with, what’s the problem with owing more? So I signed my agreement saying I would make the payment knowing full well there was no chance I could come up with the money short of hitting the lottery.
When I failed to pay the fine, it then jumped up to just short of $600. For my part, I failed to appear in court to tell them I couldn’t pay the fine, so a warrant was issued for my arrest. Finding that out yesterday shook me up. I had no idea – I was terrified and I started breaking down over the phone. The woman I spoke with was so incredibly kind as she told me I just needed to get in front of a judge to get it taken care of. I immediately got to it.
My fiance took an extended lunch break to bring me to the courthouse. Shortly after checking in, I was informed that I either had to pay the full amount due or go to the lockbox to wait until a judge was able to see me. While we did have the money in our bank account, the problem was that it was obligated elsewhere, three times over. But I couldn’t go to jail and so we committed to paying the full amount.
Telling that gentleman I would pay in total was so difficult for me. I started crying right there in the middle of the courthouse in front of everyone. I felt so downtrodden. It was happening again. We had just enough money to pay for the things that REALLY needed to be paid for and here was life swooping in with another wave to push us back under. I was devastated. I have been feeling so optimistic and hopeful about being happy and appreciating what we have. And I am so incredibly happy, but I was terrified to go back to the difficult times because they were just so hard. I found myself believing that enduring the bad times will eventually usher in a period of good. And in that moment I felt like the I was being swept back down before I was given a chance to catch my breath. I wasn’t ready for it and I didn’t cope with the thought very well.
How broken I must have looked. A father, there with his wife and son, actually reached out to me to ask if I was alright. Such a sweet thing. His teenage son was there for a minor traffic and drug charge, yet he was able to look past his own troubles and see someone truly hurting. But I couldn’t burden him with my pain, with my sense of hopelessness at that moment, so I sincerely thanked him for his concern but and let him know I would be alright.
Tears and despair were frequent visitors while we waited to be called before the judge. Thankfully, my fiance was perfect with jokes, understanding, compliments, and problem solving. He can always pick me up when I am feeling down. Too soon, I was called to pay my fine. I stood up and walked over alone, at first. As I started making out the check, I lost it again. While I wasn’t sobbing, tears were just pouring down my face. It was just too much for me to handle. I was not as covert as I thought because my fiance was beside me in an instant, rubbing my back, trying to help me feel better. I couldn’t find the words to tell him it was just so much money to have to give up for what amounted to nothing more than being broke. I made mistakes along the way, certainly, but the root cause of this fine came from my own indigence.
With a shaking hand, I passed the check to the lady. As I turned, feeling so down and beaten, life gave me the most wonderful and comforting hug. There stood the mother of that family with her arms held wide open, wearing the warmest, fuzziest, softest purple sweater I could imagine, welcoming me in for the most soul nurturing hug I have ever received, telling me everything would be okay. The hug she gave me was so gentle and so sweet, but so deep and heartfelt. It was a mother’s hug to crying child. And it was exactly what I needed.
Her extreme kindness reminded me that everything really would be okay. Money is an unfortunate necessity in life, but it is not what sustains me. Love – like a mother gives her child – that’s what keeps me whole.