Friday, March 15, 2013

A sense of ownership

He was wearing what he called his Vietnam hat. He told me it cost $3.50 to park in "his" lot and that I could come and go as I pleased so long as I left the ticket on the dash.

It wasn't a bad deal. It was a block or two further out than the lot I usually park in (when I'm not parking on the street) - but that wasn't too big a deal. So I handed him the money. He told me business had been kind of slow this week. He figured it was because of Spring Break. I asked him how busy the lot usually was and he told me he had been away from the lot for three years but now he was back and he was building up "his" clientele.

I knew it wasn't his lot. He was just the hired help. But he took a certain pride in overseeing the parking lot - and if he wanted to call it "his," then that was all right with me.

Over at the JP court up on the northwest side of town the other day the prosecutor was introducing herself to the crowd in attendance. She referred to the courtroom as "our courtroom" and the court staff as "our staff."

I found it quite peculiar because, so far as I know, the court staff worked for the judge who wasn't (at least shouldn't) a part of the prosecution team. Her words, however, spoke volumes for the ways in which our courts operate.

Whether it be a JP court or county court or district court, one or more prosecutors are assigned to it for a period of time. The prosecutors get to know the court staff and they get to know the judge. The judge gets used to having them around. They all begin to feel a bond with one another. Every once in a while you'll hear someone slip up and tell the judge that's the case they were discussing the other day.

It's that same sense of "ownership" the parking lot attendant exhibited. But, at least in his case, no one's liberty was at stake.

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