On the list of important birthday anniversaries, from that very first birthday party to a young woman’s quinceanera or Sweet 16, turning 18 is not only cause for celebration but it is that critical turning point from childhood to being an adult.
Most of my friends planned their 18th birthday parties while there was still some helium left in their Sweet 16 balloons. I did not plan anything as formal as a party, but an expensive dinner with friends and the purchase of a lottery ticket or two were definitely on the agenda.
But on my 18th birthday, instead of celebrating my entrance into adulthood, I was standing in a very long line outside of the Hamilton County Traffic Court. For three hours I waited to have my time in front of the judge. When my case was finally called, and my fines eventually waived due to quick reparations, I only had enough time and energy to celebrate my birthday with a soft-serve ice-cream cone from Dairy Queen.
Pretty sad story, huh?
Well, I foresee many more missed birthday parties in the future for residents of Turlock and Ceres as the Stanislaus County satellite courtrooms have been closed due to budget cuts. Now Turlock traffic law violators sent to court, who average about 170 per week, will have to travel to Modesto and wait their turn to see a judge with all the other bad drivers from the whole county. I don’t even want to guess at how long those lines will be. (Maybe I should invest in a coffee cart to serve the needs of the waiting red light runners and speed junkies.)
It is hard to know when a local, county, state or federal office will be open anymore. I am still trying to get used to the Turlock Public Library being closed on Tuesdays and Sundays. No matter how well I plan, I always run out of reading material on the two days the library is closed. My unfortunate reading rate, however, has meant an increase in sales at the local Borders Bookstore. I can’t help it, sometimes I need to read!
My extreme book wormishness aside, some of the recent closings are a little scary.
Maintaining law and order is getting to be somewhat questionable in Stanislaus County as not only are the courts closing their doors, but the district attorney’s office is making their overworked employees work 13 less days a year and the sheriff’s department is closing a wing of the jail and funneling more prisoners into home-detention programs.
Hopefully, all the criminals will get fed up with having to stand in long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles and decide to move to Nevada.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.