…was yesterday for me. Well, actually not FOR me, but as moral support for a client from work. She was nervous about her ability to handle everything in English as her first language is Spanish. So, I went along. As did my son-in-law, Jake, to coach her on the process. As we arrived at the courthouse, they asked if she’d like an interpreter. “Yes.” Well, that can’t happen today because the interpreter was out sick, we were told. I offered my services. They asked if I had credentials. I explained that I wasn’t certified, just pretty much spoke Spanish and interpreted the majority of the time at work. They went to verify that it would be okay with the judge – if it wasn’t going to work, they’d have to postpone her case. We waited….. “Ok, the judge says that would be fine and he is very grateful for your assistance today.” (Little did he know!)
Next stop – holding room. We read over the court rules of conduct and process. I made sure my client understood and then she signed in the appropriate place. Jake gave her some coaching (from past experience? LOL) as to the best way to respond to the prosecutor and judge.
Next stop – prosecutor. Now things get interesting. The prosecutor was a very nice older gentleman. Seemed kind. He asked about my client’s ability to understand English. She said she was nervous about understanding everything. So, I explained that was why I was there. He asked me to sit with her. Then he proceeds to tell us that he really can empathize because his first language is not English, but German.
Now, I don’t know why I do the things I do sometimes…but….I did it. I very animatedly spoke up and said, “German, that’s awesome. I know a German nursery rhyme!” (Like it mattered?) “Which one?” he responded with glee, seriously, with full out glee! “Hanson Klein!” I said. (A looonnnngggg time ago in a different lifetime, my childhood friend’s mother had taught us this German nursery rhyme.) “It’s a song, actually,” he said. “I know…” I replied, then proceeded to start the song. I know, I know – WHO DOES THIS IN COURT? 🙂 Well, he joined me in singing with gusto and it was a weird little moment – the two of us singing at the top of our lungs this German nursery rhyme. It was as if we were both a little tipsy and were drinking buddies in a bar. Hilarious.
There was some in between moments of having to step out and call my client’s insurance agent to fax over proof of insurance for the violation date, but when we went back in to the Prosecutor’s office he was all grins and full of stories. LOTS of them. He regaled tales of all the times that his knowing German allowed him to surprise various folks who approached his desk. They’d discuss their case in German and turn to him to explain in English and he’d respond in German catching them off guard. Then there was the story of when he was in university and surprised a flight attendant who had been talking about him in German with the fact that he knew German. He’s tell us the stories, then laugh. (I’m pretty sure I’m on his Christmas Card List now! Ha!) It was on the verge of ridiculous now. Another court attendant came in several times to let us know the judge was ready to review the case. He’d wave them away, telling them, “Just a minute, just a minute!” and then he’d finish a story.
As to the charges, he waved his hand, lowered the points and dismissed the violation. She ended up paying a fine, but it could have been worse.
Moral of this case? Don’t try this in court. Or should you? I’m still chuckling as I remember singing a German Nursery Rhyme in court!
Note: It really is a popular Nursery Rhyme ( I spelled it wrong…)