Clown School wasn’t my first choice in third careers. Not even my 50th choice. But Clown School came calling me, in a clever disguise, begging me to step into the ring.

In July, I got a letter from The People’s Court. I know, I thought it was a joke, too. But it was legit, Judge [retired] Marilyn Milian’s jaunty photo on both the envelope and the letterhead. One of her producers had been scouring the Florida small claims courts for cases they thought would make good television. They found mine.

How they’d found me was owing to a used car I bought from a neighbor, we’d agreed he would pay to repair two items that I’d found were needed, and then he refused to pay for those repairs. So I sued the neighbor in small claims. The two items, a back window that didn’t work and a strong shimmy when the car was driven over 40 mph, seemed fixable when the rest of the car was okay. It was an oral agreement, perfectly legal in Florida, and much of it was referenced in emails between us.

Then he reneged.

The People’s Court wanted to arbitrate, and owing to the COVID situation, it’d be done on video call. The producer set it all up and talked the neighbor into appearing, too. I was delighted, really, to have this done in such a weird way!

On filming day, I was to expect a call at 2 p.m. to get set up. They didn’t actually get to me until 6, citing “technical problems.”  My makeup and hair needed fluffing, but no time. The judge got on after we’d been sworn in and asks me how long I’ve lived near the neighbor. Odd beginning, but okay. I explained 23 years, and then she turns to the Defendant to present his side of the case.

Ummmmmm . . . wait, over here, Judge! Plaintiff first! But she was intent on getting his statements, I guess, so I waited. His statements were mostly lies, of course, including averring that the “Bill of Sale” indicated it was an “as is” transaction. Note – there is no bill of sale from this guy. Nothing. But Judge doesn’t ask to see it even when I mention there is no bill of sale from him, and the one I do have [from another person] does not say “as is.”

Okay, you can issue me my blonde fright wig at this point. Maybe add the bow tie and flower that squirts water.

After his long recitation, Judge asks me what I have to say to that. I let her know – well, I start to tell her what was correct, but she cuts me off in the middle of every sentence. I can’t get a coherent story out as she lectures me on “as is” purchases of cars.  I point out that the parties are free to make other agreements, she says yes, so prove there was one. I start again to go to the emails, and she pulls up one [of twelve pages of 40 emails] in which I say “Let’s adjust the price when we find out what the actual charges are.” He agreed verbally, remember ‘oral contract’ at issue here, but she says he doesn’t say he agreed because it’s not in the emails. I try to show her the several other emails in which he discusses how much the repairs are, how “we” will get done, how he will talk to the repair shop and work out the amount, but she’s not hearing any of it. Cuts me off cold.

The over-sized shoes and polka-dot onesie is now on.

My attempts to get the story out are useless. I can present nothing, can’t finish a sentence. She decided this before we got on. I’m still trying to get started showing the evidence, and she says, “It says it on the Bill of Sale. Verdict for the Defendant.”


Please place the large red nose right here, in the middle of my face.

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