Back in 2005, I was on the train around midnight. I found an old newspaper on a seat. This was the Q train, and I was sitting in a forward-facing seat. So I put my foot on the side-facing seat in front of me to hold up the paper. At Cortelyou Rd, the train stops and isn't starting again. A police man comes over to my car.
him: Sir, can you come off?
me: (wondering what the heck is going on) sure, uh, why?
him: You have your feet on the seat.
me: (in disbelief) You can't have your feet on the seat?
So I got off. There was also a scared-looking Spanish-speaking delinquent there. Anyhow, these two cops take our IDs, write us tickets, the whole works. It took me a while to realize they were serious. Apparently you can't take up more than one seat because it blocks other passengers from sitting down. I tried telling the cops that I wasn't blocking anyone and the train was empty, but they wouldn't listen. Then I got pissed. There are crimes happening all over the city, and the police have nothing better to do than make sure people keep their feet on the floor?
When the next train came, the policemen motioned to the driver to wait and proceeded to go from car to car and look through the windows. My fellow ticketee and I got on the train and moved on.
In the end it wasn't too bad, because I was in Oholei Torah at the time, and didn't at all mind taking a day off from seder to fight the ticket. I had given the cops my Illinois address, and had a whole list of reason to tell the judge why I didn't deserve the ticket:
1. The car was empty.
2. I had just come from Illinois the week before. (That was the truth.)
3. I didn't know that you can't put your feet up.
4. I'm really tired, so I can't remember what else I had up my sleeve, but the point is that I had a bunch of excuses, and they were all decent. I spent the days before the hearing thinking which one was the best, because you can't go to the judge with five different excuses. That doesn't sound nice.
So I finally got in front of the judge, and before I could open my mouth, he hits the record button on this old-fashioned tape recorder (they're still using those old tape recorders in 2009) and starts spewing legalese about who he is and who I am and what I'm accused of and when I allegedly did it and that the ticket cannot establish a prima facie because it doesn't say how I was blocking people so the case is dismissed. He turns off the tape recorder and invites me to leave.
I waited a little longer in the waiting room to get transcripts of the hearing and hopped back to yeshiva, where I had my fifteen minutes of fame telling everyone the story.
That was just the beginning. Since then I've gotten two more tickets while riding the MTA, one parking ticket, and I've been accused of a criminal offense which is still pending. But my other tales of crime will have to wait for another day.
Thanks Sarabonne for the idea.