I attempt to be as friendly as possible when paying fines. It’s my way of saying, “I’m a good person with a lot to offer, and despite the six cat-related trinkets on the desk behind you, I’m sure you are too. There’s no reason for this to be unpleasant.”
I don’t blame the cat ladies for emotionally boxing out my friendliness. If people have to walk through a metal detector to interact with you at your job, and you don’t work behind the controls of a 747, chances are you run across a lot of shitheads.
Until my most recent speeding ticket, I had given up on ever having a pleasant experience in a municipal courthouse. Then I walked in with a baby.
Some people thought it was a little shallow and off-putting when I referred to my dear child as a great fashion accessory. Raising babies is hard work. The sleep you’re accustomed to is virtually non-existent, intimate moments with your spouse are tougher than ever to come by, and at some point you are going to walk around in public with actual human shit on your clothes.
After all that, I am supposed to feel guilty about using my son as an emotional shield? I think not.
People love babies and if you're in public with one who is behaving, they will think you’re swell too. I don’t advocate lugging a toddler into the back room of a nightclub to discuss an extension on overdue gambling debts, but if you need to wiggle out of a petty traffic violation and don’t shamelessly flaunt your baby, you are under-utilizing your greatest resource.
My son even managed to charm the security guards, who are typically too drunk with perceived power to smile. My belt buckle triggered the alarm, causing one of the guards to scan us with the wand. When he ran it over the arm holding my son, Gabe took a swipe at it. This inspired me to joke about using my baby to sneak in a gun.
Rule of thumb: don’t attempt to get a laugh out of security guards in government buildings by suggesting you have a firearm...unless you’re holding an adorable baby. If a random law breaker made the ill-timed joke, the would-be comedian may have earned a cavity search. But from the father of a baby, a little gun joke goes over like gangbusters.
From there it was on to the dreaded feline enthusiast with the rubber stamps.
Before I said a word, I was treated to a story about her daughter whose twins were born at 8lbs each. Since this was already the best interaction I’ve ever had with someone through bulletproof glass, I stopped myself from wondering out loud what havoc that must have wreaked on her daughter’s poor vagina. Instead, I said my preferred method of parenting is one-at-a-time. She enthusiastically agreed.
When I finally handed her my ticket, she offered a money-saving resolution.
“Honey, you don’t need to pay this fine. I’m going to give you an extension and you just go ahead and register the vehicle when you can.”
The world would be a friendlier place if everyone were treated like a happy 10 month-old, but until this dream becomes a reality I highly recommend new parents use their babies to shield criticism as often as possible.