Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Social Law: Adventures in Child Support Court

Seriously? It takes the state two full presidential terms to enforce a court order?

I was actually the good guy going to court this day. I have custody of my son; his mother is supposed to pay support, but historically, she hasn’t, and she has never paid for his medical coverage. Today the state was trying to make her provide health insurance, which sounds good in theory. However, this is a woman who changes jobs more than Chelsea Handler changes boyfriends, so I was afraid the job hopping would result in a lapse in medical coverage for my son.

Now I have been in a courtroom a time or two, so I was prepared for the boredom of the wait. I know boredom. I am a connoisseur of boredom. I worked at a college once where the auditorium was so small it had to split its graduation ceremony into two seatings like dinner on a cruise ship – minus the cocktails. During the second seating, all five speakers gave the same speeches verbatim as the first go around. This is the level of boredom I anticipated having to endure in child support court.

As I was parking my car, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a guy turning to enter the courthouse. Things began to look up. This guy was clearly here to make a good impression on the judge – as long as he didn’t have to stand up. He had followed his lawyer’s advice to wear a shirt and tie. I guess the lawyer forgot to mention dress pants and shoes. The guy had on ripped, stained blue jeans - holes in both knees – and ratty basketball shoes. I’m pretty sure I saw his left big toe sticking out. Then it dawned on me. I wouldn’t have to grade the freshman composition essays I brought with me. I could people watch. It would be… like last call, or the food court. Or the emergency room. And I had already seen the quality of the essays. Grading that whole stack made me feel queasy - like a soy sauce and pickle relish sandwich after an all nighter. I was in no mood to read the likes of “An Historical Comparison of the Jews and the Genitals.”

Once I found the right court room, I had to wait in line with 200 other people to get through the metal detector. I was lucky enough to get in line behind this one guy, who at 9:15 am reeked of Budweiser. Here’s a hint: If you are hoping for leniency from the judge, don’t show up smelling like a bar room floor mop, advertising your beverage of choice on your ball cap. You might want to rethink the Hooters’ T-shirt – even if it is autographed by “Leslie.” Also, it would help if you were able to support yourself without holding onto the wall. I’m just saying.