Aside from the normal Daddy/Daughter hijinks, let me tell you about Jury Duty. Grab a beer, this may take a while:
The night before I serve, I post on my Facebook page:
The Summons says: “Do not wear shorts, halter or tank tops, clothing that exposes the midriff, beachwear….”
I have an awesome tank top that always gets comments, and which also exposes my midriff… (Never complimentary, by the way. But I suspect you already knew that.)
Thinking of wearing it tomorrow…
God, I’m funny.
There’s no mention of Tube Tops, though. I’m feeling frisky…
In the courtroom, I read my Jury Service brochure. It tells me that it is both a Duty and a Privilege to serve as juror. I can’t exactly disagree, but, come on, it’s 7:45 am. I love my America. Love It! Sleepily — (and I’m still secretly considering a run for Congress.) But… I’m not looking for a lecture about my civic responsibility. I should still be rolling out of bed, and yet… I have already fought morning Rush Hour traffic and gotten tangled up in LA’s confusing underground street system. (Yes, we have tunnels here. In earthquake country… Brilliant.)
Anyway, I check in at the courthouse (which is 6 or 7 blocks from the parking deck.) I’m a bit winded. Thank GOD I skipped the tube top! (That top would have been woefully inappropriate, because you know, I sweat profusely. Ewwww.)
The dude on the intercom welcomes us and tells us how important our service is. Then, he tells us that we will be paid 34 cents per mile to get to the courthouse. One way. “Because we don’t care how you get home.” No lie.
After an hour of such witty banter (“If the glove doesn’t fit…” Hint: It did, but it didn’t matter. Whatever), I can barely contain my “Get It Over With” quotient.
Then I realize it doesn’t matter how long it takes. It takes the time it takes. I’m stuck. Entertain me or not. Crack jokes. Whatever. You hate your job, too. It takes the time it takes.
Finally, the guy finishes his schtick.
Then, HOLY CRAP, his partner begins: Did I tell you about “Getting Re-Assigned to a Different Court Because You May Have a Conflict with this Court.” Or, you think “You Should Be Excused Because You Have X, Y or Z.” Or, you need to understand Basic English. “If you understood what I just said, then you understand Basic English.” Over and Over Again.
Another 45 minutes pass.
Crap. I’m conflicted about all this Court stuff. Am I going to jail?
At about 10:00 am, the Dude comes over the Intercom… He lists about 50 names for the first Jury Panel. It’s a long hard slog, but he skips my name. I am soooo relieved. I stop holding my breath.
Then silence, for about another hour. People chit-chat, play games on their phones, or use one of the Internet-ready computers the Court graciously provides (Hint: Those computers are so infected with viruses, I think I caught the flu.)
I settle down in a comfy chair where I can lean my head against the wall. Across from me is a slightly overweight guy who is chatting up a girl who kind of looks like a Kardashian. Only she’s prettier and (obviously) much more talented. They banter. She says her shoes are ridiculously uncomfortable and giggles. It’s cute. Maybe he’ll get a date out of this. I want to go home.
(Not my actual fellow juror. Less Junk. Less trunk.)
At about 11:00, the Jury Dude comes over the loudspeaker again. Aw, man! Another panel is being called.
The odds are now stacked against me. They’re going to call me. I just know it.
Surprise! The second panel is called, and neither I nor the overweight guy nor the Kardashian girl are called. We all give an air high-five to each other.
I begin rummaging through the magazine rack. Hmmm. Fortune magazine from 1998. (“Will the DotCom bubble burst?” and “No-Money-Down Loans Are a Great Way to Protect Against Your Future.”) Dear, Fortune: How’s that working out for you?
There’s a Sports Illustrated: “Barry Bonds hits HR 51 and 52. Could He Be the Most Revered Player in Baseball History?”
And a Time Magazine: ‘Nixon Goes to China!”
(Ok, some artistic license there, but still…)
Just before 12:00, the Jury Dude puts a video on the TV: “Where to Eat Lunch in Downtown LA.” VHS. 1994. (Didn’t Sbarro’s file for bankruptcy like 6 years ago?)
I remember that there’s a famous place in LA that claims to have invented the French Dip sandwich. I love those. I Google it. Phillipe’s. It’s only about 3/4 of a mile away. I have a lunch plan!
The Jury Dude calls lunch. I bolt. Gonna get me a French Dip. I walk the 15 blocks and get in line (this is no sit-down fancy-pants restaurant.) You earn your meal elbow-to-elbow with with the other customers/combatants. It’s brutal. I check out the decor and the menu options posted on the wall. Then I see a sign: CASH ONLY.
Shit. Seriously? 21st century? Jamming my hands into my pockets, I come up with $4.62. That ain’t gonna cut it.
With shoulders lowered, I slunk out the door and stumble into a Subway (the restaurant, not the train.) Eat Fresh. Whatever.
On the way back to the Juror Detention Center… Sorry, Juror Holding Room. I pass a most poignant scene, and I’m guessing it’s the real reason I’m honored to serve Jury Duty:
Two women are in a tight embrace, weeping deeply into each others’ arms. By the sound of it, I’m guessing their son or brother or sister or mother or uncle or father was just convicted of a terrible crime and is being sent away. Or, the victim of a terrible crime finally had their day in court. Either way, Justice Was Served. That’s why I am here.
Back in the Juror Room, I struggle to stay awake. The viruses from the computers are starting to make my nose run. Kim Kardashian tells the overweight guy (Let’s call him “Colt”) that she ran home at lunch and changed her shoes. Surprisingly, I actually noticed before she told him (because when I first saw her, I said to myself: Why the Hell would you wear peek-a-boo open-toed 3-inch heels to Jury Duty? Yes, by the way, I actually did say that to myself. I notice things when you’re not looking.)
1:00 turn into 2:00. 2:00 turn into 3:00. Then a crackle over the PA system. “Attention Jurors…” Oh CRAP! “By some miracle or a great mistake by your government, you have completed your jury service. You are excused… APRIL FOOL’s!!!! Ha ha. No seriously. You are done for the day.”
Colt, Kim, and I look at each other. What the F… What is he saying?
Then, the Juror Dude announces that we should remove our name badges from the holder, and put them in the appropriate tray on the counter. No argument here.
I follow Colt and Kim to the elevators. It takes too long. They’re already full.
I take the stairs down to street level. Walk the 6 or 7 blocks to the parking garage. Uphill. And I’m happy to know that I won’t be required to serve for at least 12 months.