Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Am I Serious?

The other day Michael O'Connor reminded me of what the job is all about - to me at least. Drunk and Disorderly was the charge, guilty was the plea. He is a slightly scruffy-looking man of forty or thereabouts and his body language is apologetic to the point of being submissive. Only one previous offence in the last five years.

"Mr. O'Connor" I said. "You have pleaded guilty to behaving badly when you were drunk and you used a lot of bad language to the police. What do you want to tell us about this?"

"Well, sir, I am very sorry. I was very drunk, and I was out of order. I would like to say sorry now. I said sorry to the Sergeant when he gave me bail, and I said sorry to the officer who arrested me".

"May we see the means form please?" This reveals that he is a manual worker making the local average of £250 per week after tax. We retire, and my colleagues feel exactly the same as I do. We go back.

"Mr. O'Connor. You don't need any lectures from us because you know as well as we do that you made a real nuisance of yourself last night. We have allowed for the fact that you have spent a night in a cell, even though you brought it on yourself. The proper fine for your offence is £150, but to allow for your guilty plea we have reduced it to £100. You must pay £43 towards the costs of this case. That is due now - will you pay it today?" "I can pay it tomorrow sir, when I get me wages." "Can you get the money here to the court before four o'clock when the office closes?" "Yes, sir, I'll get it here in time."

"Mr. O'Connor. You get paid out at lunchtime don't you?" "Yes sir" "There are a lot of pubs between work and the courthouse aren't there?" "Yes, sir" "You will come to the courthouse first, won't you?" "Definitely, sir" "Right. Off you go, the usher will give you a note and a leaflet about the fine" "Thank you, sir. You've been very fair".

Sometimes I feel like the headmaster of a school that caters for the less cerebral children. I love it.

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