So yesterday I’m chillin at the courthouse on Monday like usual, minding my own business, when a crazy lady came in and tried to make her business my business. Crazy people seem to make a lot of noise coming and going, and I heard this lady coming a long time before she appeared.
The courthouse closes to the public at 4 p.m., so I usually get there around 2:30 or 3 p.m. for good measure, then head over to the library across Hemming Plaza to finish my report. But yesterday I left late and got crammed into traffic, so I didn’t arrive until quarter to 4 p.m., and they stop admitting publicos at 10 til. And of course, there were a ton of civil case numbers to write down pinned under other sheets of paper. I like doing this; the point is: I was on a tight schedule. (photo below: Hemming Plaza and the Jacksonville Federal Courthouse)
“I’m back!” she hollered to the ladies behind the counter. She had that same unfocused, worried look in her eyes that Grumpazord did (from my first real blog post in April), and it was clear the ladies knew exactly who she was. “I’ve gotta file this today,” she said too loudly, looking out of place in a courthouse dressed in white sweatpants and a thin t-shirt. “I need ___. If you can give me a piece of paper, I’ll write it down. I need this titled ____” and on and on. Then she turned on me.
“What are you doing here?” Crazy asked (again, too loudly. Also: same unfocused look). “What do you do?”
“I’m a journalist,” I said, turning back to what I was doing so I could maybe finish before they closed.
“For who?” She asked, and I told her. I could tell she’d never heard of it. “Well, I bet they’d be interested in a story!”
A news organization interested in a story? No! Oh yeah, I thought, remembering all the weirdos I met in South Texas who would call 10 times in a day hollering about how the government had euthanized their dog out of spite, or how the president had personally–personally–ruined their life, all with passion and complete sincerity. Well apparently they live here in Jax, too. 🙂
But back to the point. She continued: “The government stole my baby. Would you believe that? (no.) They stole him and they’ve had him for three weeks now. I went and got him, my own baby, a little three-week-old Puerto Rican baby, breast fed (note: this woman was very white). I bet lots of places interested in that story. Do you think they want that story?”
“Well, it’s not exactly business litigation, which is what I’m looking for, but that sounds terrible,” I said sympathetically. I don’t know what the heck she’s talking about, but she does seem upset. Actually, not so much upset as…crazy. Slight difference.
“They took him from me in (town I’d never heard of), a small town an hour from here, and they forged my signature on his birth certificate so I can never have him back, and that’s illegal!” She continued, while I turned back to the post board, racing the clock of courthouse closure. She looked at me expectantly, so I agreed, “That sounds horrible; it must be really hard.” “It is hard!” She said, then turned back to the nice counter ladies and told them to do some more things with her case filing and made a bunch of noise with the enormous envelope.
The ladies realized they would not get to boot us out at 4 p.m. They tried to give her a hint by standing next to her and telling me they were about to close. “No problem, thanks for letting me know,” I said, scribbling down my last case numbers and escaping quickly.
So obviously something happened to her or her baby. Obviously she’s feeling a little desperate. I feel a cross between sorry for her and bewildered by her very odd story. I mean, where the heck did this baby come from?! I seem to attract people like that, or maybe I just listen to them longer than I should. Either way, I’m keeping an eye out for her case to check out the details when it’s entered into the court system. Should be interesting….
(photo: Jacksonville Public Library, downtown)