As told by my friend Anshel Kaplan.
So a few months ago, I got pulled over and given a ticket. Well, three tickets to be frank. Anyway, today, I went *way out* in Long Island to represent myself (after all, if I can’t represent myself in *traffic court* after spending $150,000 on law school, then what good am I? Notwithstanding, of course, the old saying of a lawyer who represents himself…). In any event, I was struggling whether or not to wear my yarmulke (skull cap) when I went into court, not knowing how these people would respond to seeing an orthodox Jew, and whether or not they had any preconceived notions regarding Judaism, positive or negative. After an internal struggle, I decided, what the heck, I’ll just go ahead and wear it.
As I walked into court, I sat down in the attorneys booth (attorneys get seen first and are generally treated better) and another attorney (not visibly Jewish) walked up to me and asked, “what time is sundown today?” I laughed and said, I still had plenty of time. He responded, “Yeah, don’t you just like it when sundown is much later in the summer? I listen to the classical radio station here and every Friday I hear the broadcaster say ‘and for all our Jewish listeners, Sunset is…’ and he always gives the time and ends with Shabbat Shalom.”
We started chatting, and it turned out that he practiced in this traffic court very often, so I asked him what he would do in my position, and he gave me all the strategic advice I needed to basically plea down the tickets from, what could have been a suspended license to… three tickets for jaywalking.
I went in front of the judge and he rubber-stamped the plea bargain I had made with the prosecutor. I asked the judge how much the three tickets were going to be, and the judge says “I don’t know. I went to law school. I was never good at math. Go see the cashier and she’ll tell you how much you owe.”
So, for those following at home, wearing a yarmulke ultimately caused another attorney (whose religion I’ll never know) to strike up a conversation with me, guide me on the best practice for my situation, and help me avoid a boat load of insurance points and pay less than a half of what I could have been responsible for.
Walked to the cashier, asked her how much I owe and she said your total is…
(For all my non-Jewish friends, 613 is the number of commandments in the Bible.)