Thursday, February 23, 2012

Duty Free

I've never actually served on a jury.  I always answer my summons, however, because I'm all "Yay America and our judicial system and whatnot!"  But, so far I've 1)Sat in that huge lame room for a day, (which is actually pretty cool because then you're done),  2)Been chosen and then had the case thrown out and yesterday, I 3)Listened to exactly four hours of the most boring testimony imaginable before they settled and we all got to go home.

I know people who always always get chosen and I know people who have never been called.  I know people who always ignore their summons and people who lie to get out of it. Tim has served twice in the last two years, both times for weeks.  I remember both of my parents serving frequently when I was growing up.  So, I know I've been lucky.  It's a pain in the ass but you do it and then you're free and you feel all good about yourself like you're so cool for doing your civic duty.

The most interesting part of jury duty for me is not 'due process of law' or any of that junk.  I mean, I've watched my share of Law & Order and all but I slept through government class in school and until yesterday, I couldn't have told you what "overruled" or "sustained" actually meant.  The best part for me is the people.  I like the hundreds of people crammed into one room with only four outlets.  I like watching them interact.  I like to guess who's hungover and who's actually committed some crimes themselves.  I like seeing tentative one-day friendships start up.  It's usually one dude saying to another dude,  "Wow, jury duty.  Crazy, right?"

I don't, however, want anyone to talk to me.  I deploy certain strategies to this end.  There's headphones, of course.  And, my nose in a giant book.  When those fail, I give them crazy-eye or I answer questions with off the wall answers.  Like, when a chatty lady asked me where I worked (her one-day friend had gone to the ladies' room), I answered "At the plant," like I was Homer Simpson or something.  Lucky for me, she didn't get to ask, "What plant?" because they started calling a panel.

For the first four hours of my Jury Duty on Tuesday, I listened to two guys talk.  One of the dudes had me fantasizing about strapping a Pulp Fiction gimp-style ball gag on his big bald head.  He was so annoying and so inane, he made me feel all stabby.  Even stabbier than I already felt just for being in a room with 300 people and 4 outlets.

He spent over half an hour listing alcohol that he enjoys.  He's had a "good Miller Lite" a couple of times but he feels that "Miller High Life is the way to go."  He went to a place once that microwaved the Hennessey and served it warm and he thought that was "real classy."  He listed every vodka there is and the attributes of each and then at the end declared that he "hates that shit."  He quizzed the bartender he was talking to about uses for Dr. Pepper in mixology.

Then, he moved onto travel.  He's been to lots of places in the "U.S. of A, all around!"  He listed like fifteen cities and after each one, proclaimed it "expensive and dirty."  Well, except Chicago.  Chicago was "expensive, dirty and cold."  Around hour four, he started in on restaurants.  He likes Texas Roadhouse because they "keep bringing bread."  He takes "his woman" to the "Pink joint on La Brea" but "she don't like it because she have to stand in line in her heels after a long day."  (It took me a while to figure out he meant, Pink's Hot Dogs.)  He likes wings.  He likes places that do wings "right."  He likes it when "the wing still tastes like fresh, like it's not too fried but it's still like a chicken."

Okay, so four hours of that.  And then, in the afternoon, I'm picked to be on a jury with that dude.  Out of hundreds of people!  I imagined the days stretching out ahead of me, which he would fill with lists of animals he'd heard of or lamps he's seen in his life.  So, then, yesterday morning, he took the bench across from me during a break.  He and his "one-day friend," a woman who seemed to enjoy his lists, began emptying out their gigantic coolers to sustain them through the fifteen minute break.  He ate a whole sleeve of Oreos as he listed types of RVs and then moved on to burritos.  One of his favorite joints has "big ole' burritos" and he thinks "that's a trip."

I don't know why but I kind-of miss that guy.  He was kind-of awesome on Day 2, when I'd gotten used to him.  Not that I want to talk to him, mind you.  But,  I'm writing this in a coffee shop and I'd really like to eavesdrop and hear his stance on the muffins.

*photo by SarahFranco.