Thursday, February 17, 2005

Jury Duty

Today I had jury duty. I tried to get out of it, but as it turns out “If I miss a day of my beloved soap opera I will miss so much” is not considered a valid excuse by the State of California. Obviously my friends at the capital haven’t been following the “I’m pregnant with my gay ex-husband who turned out to be my brother’s love child” storyline, or they would surely excuse me. So, after I figured out how to set my VCR and my alarm I planned my trip down to the halls of justice. And I really wasn’t that bummed about having to go. I am currently unemployed and spend a large portion of my days experimenting with the various angles which you can point the remote at the television. Now seemed like as good a time as any to stand in judgment of others and the choices they’ve made in their lives.

However, come morning time my enthusiasm for justice diminished slightly with every annoying beep of my alarm. I climbed out of bed and tripped over my Soap Opera Digest. I looked around the room and realized something was very wrong. There was no light coming from my window. The sun was not up yet, but I was. This goes against everything I stand for, or sleep for, and I considered calling the jury commissioner to make another plea for a dismissal. I couldn’t find the phone though, because it was too dark. I was going to look harder but I figured driving to the courthouse would take less energy than finding a cordless phone in my room. At least when I’m driving I get to sit down, and if I hit stopped traffic just right I might be able to catch a quick nap on the way.

While driving in said traffic an overwhelming wave of pity came over me. I honestly pitied any man, woman or child who might have me on their jury. It was only 7 o’clock in the morning and I had already used more curse words than an entire episode of ‘The Sopranos’. I had also had 3 homicidal urges, well four if you count my bizarre craving for steak and eggs. There is no way I could be impartial to the person whose trial caused me to face morning traffic every day. At the end of the trial every jackass driver and annoying radio host would come back to me.

“Guilty, he’s guilty, give him the chair.”
“But he’s on trial for public urination.”
“I don’t care! We must send a message to anyone who is ever thinking about doing anything that may cause a jury trial. It simply will not be tolerated!”

I arrived at the courthouse in time to catch the “Orientation Video”. Just in case anyone thought they were waiting in line for Star Wars Episode II, this video cleared it right up. We were, in fact, going to be serving jury duty today, no matter what the flyer said that came in the mail. I watched the first part of the video, hoping that maybe it would have some explanation behind the OJ jurors, but unfortunately all it did was talk about laws and stuff. It lost my attention when it started talking about our forefathers and their vision for a fair America blah blah blah. I was pretty sure I’d already seen the video, I think it was on after the infomercial for George Forman’s grill. Maybe I had dialed the wrong number in an ordering error and that was why I had been called down for jury duty. No more late-night TV for me.

At this point I put my head down on the table and took a little nap. I woke up to the intercom announcement of our lunch break. I don’t imagine I missed much during those four and a half hours. Surely someone would have woke me if Judge Judy had made an appearance.

When I was standing in the check out line at the cafeteria I realized that the cashier was blind. This was very interesting to me. It seems that a courthouse cafeteria may be the only place in the world where you could get away with having a blind cashier. I was expected to walk up to the man, tell him what I had on my tray and then tell him what bill I was paying with. It was at this point that I wondered if I was really as bad as the thoughts that so often make their way into my head.

“Yes, I’m just getting a pack gum.” I would hope he didn’t smell my three chilidogs and large fries.
“That will be fifty cents.”
“Can you break a hundred?”

Of course I was honest once I got up there, I didn’t want to make my arrangements to visit hell and jail all in one act. One has to spread such milestones out.

Lunch was followed by another short nap which was interrupted by the announcement releasing us for the day. I looked at the clock and saw that it was only 3:30. This was nearly the time I usually drag myself out of bed. But not today. Today I had done my civic duty just as my forefathers had once dreamed. But more importantly, I had gotten out of bed for a reason other than to watch Oprah Winfrey. Just as my own father had once dreamed.