The Adventure Begins... and ends.
So far, I've dodged the bullet, so to speak, and not been called for Jury Duty. But my luck recently ran out. I received the summons the other day. I don't travel down town very often... for good reason -- I'm not a traffic fan. I must admit my curiosity at doing my civic duty, was tempered with the thrill of driving downtown (in rush hour), dealing with my fellow man (which I don't always think too highly of), and sitting through a torturously long bureaucratic process -- all for $5/day (when parking cost me $7). Lets just say my cynical nature was not disappointed.
First I was stuck in a jury orientation room, where we had the rules and regulations explained to us. Since some of my fellow men, must have proven themselves to be less than wise in the past, as the orator (who was surprising good at public speaking), explained everything, then explained what that meant. Then repeated it. (1)
(1) I had fun sitting there imagining why he had to repeat himself so many times. I could just picture stellar representations of humanity, not being able to figure this stuff out. Such detailed and important processes, as being able to work a time card machine. Now, I have been a professional, and am not experienced at using these devices, but I felt I was capable of properly using the device after watching its operation only once -- but I could imagine the people who somehow failed to use a stamp properly in the past (requiring the depth of explanation we were exposed to). I just pictured these guys coming out with dates in black ink across their hands or foreheads, or on the wrong side of the page, which caused me to chuckle at all the most inappropriate times. Of course, I mis-aimed the thing the first time I used it and got the time on the wrong line -- *&^%$#@!.
Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Did I mention we waited. At least I got to write and read a little. I've noticed that the Govt. is never fast when it comes to wasting your time, but amazingly efficient (and quick) at taking your money. Ah, the joys of life. Just me and 500 if my closest strangers all sitting in something that is generously referred to as a lounge. Bus terminal would be a more accurate description, but there are masters of euphemisms and political correctness running around redefining the language for us -- so now a bunch of bolted together chairs, facing a wall, with the unwashed masses all around us, is referred to as a "lounge". I was especially relaxed as the person next to me started making strangely wet and bubbly noises while coughing in my general direction (I could feel the cooties). I was also questioning the engineers concept of adequate ventilation as it seemed a tad stuffy -- sorta like a cross between a sauna and a high school locker room (and I just love crowds to begin with). Fortunately, while I wasn't called right away, some of those around me were, which gave me a bit of elbow room, and the freedom to look around.
My wife is somewhat a bad influence on me. For the first 25 years of my life, I never knew that the fashion police could actually make arrests (and I dressed accordingly). But my wife spent our first few years together informing me about what a serious offense this could be, and how lucky I had been. I understand that some of my combinations in the past were of the "capital offense" variety. Since then, I have learned to people watch (and judge) as my wife has schooled me in. (Being an informant for the fassion secret-police, or which she seems to be a high-ranking official). I noted that there was a frightening amount of 70's fashions, in a color that can only be described as "baby vomit green" -- I guess that is coming back in style. I looked around and kept thinking, "Oh, yeah. Nothing says Juror like vinyl miniskirts and thigh high boots. Or even better -- purple Velour pants, Ugh Boots, and a tight orange sweater, straining to contain a Dolly Parton figure. I kept wondering which trailer park they came from.
Fortunately, after a mere 6 hours of sitting around on my butt, reading and writing (and people watching), it was announced that we could go home for the day. My civic duty was done, and the chair had been properly warmed.
I got a pass on the next day. But the freeway I drive to the courthouse did not, a huge sinkhole devoured a 50' x 50' x 150' part of our highway. El Nino and defective subcontractors on a drainage main are to blame.
Wednesday, I was called in again to do my civic duty. I'm not 100% sure what duty I am serving by sitting in the jury lounge -- but at least I know I'm doing that duty well. Naturally, I can think of 1,000 different ways to improve their systems (I'm an engineer), but I've learned that offering advice to bureaucrat is like kissing a moody Rhino on the lips (generally not a good idea) -- except moody Rhino's don't usually have your address and phone number. Again, at the halfway point (midday), they let me out -- and I went in to work.
Thursday I got a pass. And when I called in to see if they were going to need me on Friday, I was informed that I was a superior human being, and thanks for doing my duty to God and Country, and I was through.
I kept thinking -- "what a country"... in more ways that one.
The week before me, a friend sat through a case -- where they took a week to prove the obvious. You know the usual stuff, where "shit happens", and people die -- and that a Doctor should not be responsible because someone accepts the risks associated with surgery (paying the price of an unhealthy lifestyle or unlucky spin on the genetic roulette table). Anyway, someone died on the Doctors table (when it isn't his fault) and some schmucks were trying to hit the lawsuit lottery, and get a sympathetic (and none-to-smart) jury, that would award them millions (and punish the innocent). Fortunately Justice prevailed. The ironic part was that the guy died getting an Angeogram (like my wife had a couple months before).
Oh, well. My duty is served for a while -- and I didn't get on a case, even though I might have enjoyed it -- in an "after the fact" kinda way. Now that I'm consulting, I get a free pass for quite some time.