That's a fantastic question and one I asked myself when, a month after I shot Kam and Jess's wedding at the Spice Factory in Hamilton, I received a $325 ticket in the mail for failing to stop at a red light on the day I photographed their wedding.
To be honest, I remember the exact moment it happened. I was a kilometer from the hotel where I was meeting the girls. I was twenty minutes early, and my maps app kept telling me to turn left. (Since I'm not from Hamilton, I found the particular section of the street with lights tight in a row and directions to turn left baffling.) Especially since I couldn't turn left because left was a one-way street going the opposite direction.
When I looked up and saw the light was yellow, I had a split second to think "slam brakes or go?" and I WENT. That was that.
It was terrifying. The light turned red the second before I charged beneath it (and immediately turned left. It really is a confusing intersection.) I hate that feeling.
I hated more the feeling of opening up the envelope weeks later and finding the fatty fine.
The ticket kindly informed me I could pay then and there by cheque I request an early resolution meeting with a prosecutor. I hoped with my lifetime of a clean driving record (I haven't even received a parking ticket, how boring is that?), my out-of-town status, and the perplexing geographics of that particular light would ensure at least a little grace with the prosecutor.
Besides, everything I Googled online said if I went in to meet with them, my ticket would be largely reduced.
Google lied, people.
My meeting was scheduled for Valentine's Day, and I arrived half an hour early. I paid for two hours of parking and heading into my "meeting."
Once I was re-directed to another floor entirely, I easily found the new location of my "meeting" by the masses of people huddled around the door.
We waited outside the courtroom. (A courtroom!)
We were eventually herded inside and squished together in the silent confines of the room. My appointment time came and went. A man stood up and told us we had two options: 1. plead guilty and pay a reduced fine of $240 or 2. take our complaint to trial.
There were no other options.
Feeling the full weight of what I would declare to be a "lose/win" with all the favor of the situation going to Them, I conferred with Jonathan and decided on option 1.
I told the man I'd plead guilty and he made a note before motioning me back to my seat. "Can I just pay it and go home then?"
"No. You need to tell the judge your decision."
Cool. More waiting.
When the judge finally arrived (and after we all stood at attention to give him lots of respect), the people who needed translation went first. ***Please note: if you are ever in this situation, ask for a translator. It will cut your lounging around time in half as you are bumped to the front of the line.
The judge read the same mantra to every single person who stood before him. The short version is: "Do you understand what you are doing by pleading guilty? Is this of your own free will?" (It's really not, but if you say otherwise, he'll decree you must stand trial.)
As the clocked ticked towards the end of my paid parking, I had to make a quick decision. I begged the man beside me to stand up and plead guilty for me if my case happened to be called and I ran out to pay for three extra hours on the parking meter.
I arrived back, sweaty and ready for someone to hand me a margarita. (My neighbour is texting me about margaritas in the moment I write this, so they are certainly on the brain. But I wouldn't have minded being handed one that day either.)
When my case was called, I plead guilty and even managed to do it politely.
I suppose the one small consolation is that the ticket was in Jonathan's name since the car lease is in his name. Their unwavering policy is that the ticket remains in the car owner's name. I have to tell myself that makes the situation at least marginally brighter.