The court date was yesterday and, to start with the most important part, I won. Or, more exactly, the Gendarmerie lost, as they were the ones who appealed the original ruling that determined the fine had been unjustified, and the appeal was rejected, the decision being final. This means that, a year, eight months and two days after the protest in question, this mess is finally behind me.
Of course, as the day approached I was more and more of a mess, and it sure didn’t help that four of those who had their contestations initially scheduled on the same day and before the same judge, and therefore had the same initial ruling, had the appeal dates set before mine and all of them lost. But, of course, precedents don’t matter here and each judge can judge without taking other rulings into account, even if the cases are identical, and as I started checking more and more names I noticed clear patterns, as while at first everyone I know of won, now some judges overturned the initial rulings while others maintained them and rejected the appeals instead. So it was a matter of where I’ll end up, though at least three of the four I mentioned hadn’t even bothered to show up the first time and I had no reason to believe that changed for the appeal, which might have swung things against them and might have given me a chance regardless of judge, as I was obviously going to go and make my case directly.
Fortunately, I ended up before judges who had already ruled in favor of other protesters, so had both good reason to hope they’ll do the same in my case as well and the chance to submit a favorable ruling as a directly relevant precedent, after someone who had been assigned to the same ones was kind enough to send me a copy. Of course, they were not in any way required to take that previous ruling into account and might have still ruled differently in my case, but it nevertheless strengthened my position, and at the very least made me feel slightly less insecure.
As such, on the day itself, after barely managing to sleep for about one hour, I was in front of the proper courtroom by 9 AM, 30 minutes early, to give myself time to check the file as well, to see if there had been any changes or if the Gendarmerie submitted anything else. There was nothing of the sort, but it was close to 9:30 AM when I actually saw that, because while several people soon started to gather in front of that door, it took a while before the first was bold enough to step inside, quickly being followed by the rest. A few of us, myself included, had already briefly opened the door to look inside, but immediately stepped back when we saw all seats empty.
My case was number eight on the day’s list, but everything went very quickly and around 9:45 AM it was already my turn. Of course, the Gendarmerie wasn’t represented by anyone, so I simply handed that copy to the judges, stating that it’s a ruling that’s directly relevant in this case, no longer being concerned that I may be doing something wrong by simply walking up to them to do so as soon as I was asked to state my case, because a lawyer representing a company in an earlier case had done the same thing. The trouble was that after doing so I found that I was too scared to even be able to read anymore, so despite having everything I meant to say written down, I was quite at a loss and barely managed to mutter something along the lines of that ruling being relevant because the same judges ruled in favor of another participant to the same protest, determining that the protest itself was legal and fines were unjustified, and also that the gendarmes didn’t properly follow the procedure. Then I did manage to recover enough to actually be more coherent when I added the last part, which was that, among the reasons for the appeal, the Gendarmerie included the fact that three articles of the old Civil Code, which they claimed was still valid at the time of the initial ruling, state that their reports are assumed as valid and need not be proven in Court. However, the old Civil Code was repealed in 2011, so that claim was obviously false and I made sure to say so… Before once again freezing when asked, obviously only in order to follow the procedure to the end, what it is that I’m asking of the Court, and I sure hope that what the judge asked specifically when I didn’t immediately answer was whether I’m asking for them to reject the appeal, because I said yes despite finding myself unable to understand what those words being said to me meant, though I then did manage to add that I also ask them to keep the submitted ruling in mind while deciding.
That finally done, I hastily made my way back to my seat and found that I didn’t need to take my time putting things back into my backpack, as initially planned, in order to wait for the next person, who was also a protester, as all she did was say she asks the judges to reject the appeal. So I was able to just mention that I thought I had recognized her from the beginning as I was walking out and she was returning to her seat, and then waited for her to leave the courtroom as well to mention that I had sent her messages after identifying who was the other person who had been assigned to the same judges and on the same day, but they never even showed up as read. She definitely didn’t feel like having anything to do with anyone at the moment, however, which had been the very clear impression I had gotten since first noticing her that morning, and I definitely understood that, so after she just said a few words back while already walking away in some haste, I let her be.
It was barely 9:50 AM and I was already outside. Dad, who had come with me and said he’ll wait, being on vacation these days, hadn’t even left, as he had initially said he was likely going to get himself some coffee and then maybe have a walk for a while, but assumed it’ll take much longer and was therefore still there in front of the courtroom when I came out. He couldn’t get much out of me, however, and then I just asked him to leave me be, as he kept asking or making suggestions about how to get back, as I had told him I was considering going somewhere else on my own after I’ll be done there, but I simply couldn’t “process” anything at the time and his attempts to be helpful were just overloading my mind even more.
We did end up taking the metro in the opposite direction, as one was just stopping in the station when we walked in and I just followed him when he rushed ahead, both of us realizing the mistake later. But as that route is a loop, it just meant we had to ride it for a while longer until I stepped off at the station nearest to where I meant to go, not in the least certain that I’ll be able to do what I meant to but thinking I was just enough of a mess to try something like this for the first time. And that decision didn’t change when I got all confused and went the wrong way at first.
What was the plan? Getting a pizza. If I recall correctly, the last one dad bought was probably when we came back from Court in May of last year, after the initial favorable ruling, and I had been considering trying to buy one myself for a while, as that definitely implies asking and I hadn’t even tried before. And when, Wednesday night, I saw a list of good Italian restaurants in Bucharest and noticed one I should know how to get to and that also seemed interesting, being listed as a little family business with good service and fair or even low prices, the husband actually being Italian and determined to make sure the recipes and ingredients are as authentic as possible, I pretty much decided to go for it while too messed up to really realize what I was about to do and change my mind.
Should probably also mention that the initial plan was to first check out a coffee shop and vegan confectionery which I had just heard of and had gotten curious about because it also brought the concept of having cats around such a shop around here and, possibly even more importantly, one of the owners seems to be another protester. However, that opens in the afternoon, and actually until a few days ago it only opened in the evening, so that part of the plan required me being in Court for at least a few hours.
Either way, eventually ended up across the road from the restaurant, had a look from that distance, kept walking a little more before crossing and returning for another look, and then I stopped to read the menu painted on the door of what I later learned was the pizza place that it all started from. It would appear that, while the restaurant as it’s now known only opened in February, the couple in question already had the pizza place for a while and what they did in February was expand and add the confectionery which they now seem to try to promote more, inasmuch as it’s promoted in any way. They seem to do deliveries as well, but only take orders by phone, as all they have is a Facebook page, not a site that may be used for that, or even to properly check the menu without going through quite a number of pictures to find it somewhere among them. And the old place seems to only be a kitchen now, as there was a big message asking people to go next door to order.
As I was reading, somebody, most likely an employee, came behind me and stopped, giving me a strange look, so I stood aside and let him go inside before resuming reading. Then a waitress came out of the new place as well and seemed to want to say something, but I wasn’t up for answering any questions, so I walked a few steps away and started playing with my cell phone a little, until she left. Was very close to just giving up on the whole thing and running away at that point, and I would have done so if she wouldn’t have left when she did, and obviously even more so if she’d have said anything, but as it was, I then had a quick look at their outdoor area, which is between the old place and the new one they expanded to. That helped me calm down a little, as I was alone there and nobody came out to ask me if I wanted anything, and I even doubt they could have seen me from inside.
Eventually, I walked in and was looking at the sweets when a waitress came to ask if she could help me with anything. Said I was looking, but the situation was becoming extremely awkward, so just a few seconds later I asked how would I go about ordering a pizza and she handed me a menu, which I barely glanced at before saying which kind I wanted, as I had already decided on that by then. After that, I asked about the desserts, as everything else is listed with Italian names and ingredients in both Italian and Romanian, but the desserts only have Italian names and no other information, so they meant nothing to me.
After she explained and I also asked about what looked like croissants and pies, which weren’t on the menu, I just picked a Nutella croissant, as it was at least familiar, therefore just ignoring all the interesting things because it was already getting to be too much for me to just be there, which was proven a moment later, when she asked if I wanted to eat there or was my order to go and I meant to say I wanted to eat there but actually said it was to go. And then I didn’t correct myself, also thinking that it’d be even more awkward to eat there when I was the only customer at such an early hour, being only around 11 AM, so I just asked how long will it be, being told 15 minutes at most and then wandering off to the small room that had the few tables I saw inside, and which was where the two waitresses had been when I had walked in. Their phones were on one table and they left them there, remaining outside as I waited.
After a while I was asked if the croissant was also to go or I’d rather have it there and I said again it was to go. Then, when the pizza also came and I meant to put the box in one of the plastic bags I had with me, though I doubt it’d have fit either way, the waitress rushed to try to help me but at the same time said she recommends I don’t do that and just carry it as it is, so decided to follow her advice. She also told me to warm the croissant first, and at first I didn’t put that in the bag either, so I was left with an empty bag sort of danging from one hand and she asked if she can help me with that in some way, but I said I’ll put it in my backpack once I’m out and left.
After that, as the pizza and croissant had come to 1 RON less than the rough amount I had initially planned to spend there and things seemed to be working, I also entered some small bakery, or at least a place that sold such products, and grabbed something listed as a kashkaval pretzel, though when I ate it I sure wondered where the kashkaval was. Cost only 1.5 RON, however, so can’t particularly complain. Did have to dig through my backpack for the change, while also awkwardly placing the pizza and croissant in front of the cashier, and then I just got out of there and even forgot the receipt, as I tend to make a point of picking those up otherwise. Then I put everything on the hood of a nearby parked car and got the pretzel and the croissant in the plastic bag.
Then I just walked from there, quite uncertain about the whole thing and split between feeling good about having a pizza and managing to get it, and the other things, myself, and rotten for spending money on unnecessary things and also increasingly scared as I was realizing more and more how much I had interacted with people and my mind kept needing to be stopped from going into shock over it.
Once back here, I stuffed myself with all I had bought, adding a fair amount of watermelon, an orange and most of the liter of tea I had in my room for that day after it all. Found the pizza unusual when compared to what I was used to around here, but pretty good after getting over the initial somewhat surprised impression, and either way they definitely didn’t try to save on the toppings, as those were quite heaped on it even though it was still slightly cheaper than the same kind from one of the places I know of around here. The croissant was definitely tasty, the surprise there being how much stuffing was in it, so that justified the significantly higher price compared to what you can find in these little places that are all over. What I thought of the pretzel I already stated above.
But far more importantly, I wasn’t even done with all of that when I thought to just check the site and found that the decision regarding the Gendarmerie’s appeal had already been listed, and it was in my favor. Definitely didn’t expect that to show up there so soon, as for others the information was only listed a few days after the date, but it sure was a nice surprise and allowed me to start calming down… Or at least trying to, as it was past 5 PM when I finally tried to sleep a little and woke up less than an hour later, unable to even stay in bed anymore, and even several hours later I was still barely able to sit down enough to type a message to someone, as I kept getting up and pacing around the room.
But now that’s all over and done with and it can be said that I saved 500 RON ($125.53, €112.45), which was the amount of the fine, or at least 500 RON minus all associated costs and these purchases, which should still be around 400 RON. So let me now quickly mention a few other things as well, starting with the fact that Monday seems to have been the first day in a very long time that my site had no visits. It could, of course, be a case of Google Analytics losing some data that couldn’t be recovered, as it is quite unusual, but not impossible, since I usually only have a few visits per day and there have been at least a few days when a single one was listed. The last one with none whatsoever, however, seems to be October 30, 2010, so not long after launching this site in its current location.
As for the two runs mentioned in the title, I decided to take advantage of a less hot day and run again last weekend, and then yet again today, both times in the park of course, so I’ll have a buffer in case there will come a week with no tolerable days before the end of summer. The times were 23:20 and 23:04, respectively, so significantly worse than the first time, and if last week it was a matter of needing to weave around all the people and even briefly stop a few times, as the park was just too crowded and there was just no room to keep going immediately, today I went outside right after it had rained for a while and it was still dripping a little, so the place was actually almost completely deserted, and in fact only towards the end did I see more than a few people. There were a few puddles to weave around, but just a few, and it was cool and the sky was still overcast, so I can’t say I have any excuse, except of course the fact that I barely got two hours of sleep yesterday and had been so terribly stressed. Plus, I can’t say that I pushed now, as I noticed while walking back that I wasn’t even tired, and nothing hurt in the least.