By Lili Costa
I recently accompanied a client, Maria, who was unfortunately involved in a car accident with a truck and was given a traffic violation. As a former client, Maria came back to Taller de José for assistance in going to traffic court. It was arranged that I would meet her early on Tuesday morning at the agency. We took the Pink line down to the Daley Center, and were able to talk about the circumstances of the accident and the client’s life. She is retired and her children were not able to take time from work to accompany her. She was very grateful for my assistance, especially when she found out that the majority of staff at Taller de José is volunteers and interns. She appeared nervous on the train, and thus I talked her through some of the details I did know to try and make her feel more at ease and better prepared. I explained where in the Daley Center the traffic court was located and how I would ask for an interpreter, just in case they would not allow me to interpret for her. I also explained that even if I could not translate, I would still be there for support and listening to make sure she understood everything.
When we arrived at the Daley Center, the client marveled at how large the building was and stated several times that she would have gotten lost if she was by herself. We thankfully did not get lost and found our way easily as another compañera had explained to me where the traffic court was earlier in the week. The client’s case was the last one to be called, and as the interpreter had left, the judge let me stand with her. The judge spoke with the client in Spanish, something that I had never witnessed before and hopefully a sign of a changing system. Her ticket was dismissed as the police officer and no witnesses were present. The client was relieved and happy. We left court and made our way back to the agency by the Pink Line again. She was much more talkative on the train ride back as she was no longer nervous. She thanked me many times, stating that it was nice to have someone there with her. Maria clearly believes in the work that we do. While she is very capable, and even spoke a little English, she just needed a little extra assistance and moral support. Taller de José was able to provide that support and guidance for this client, and for many more clients with their own stories.