Wednesday, January 09, 2013

I Was No. 9: A Mostly True Account of My Jury Duty Service

As I sat in chair #44, and watched in amazement as juror #39 drew veiny penises in her notebook, I felt like I was in the middle of some sort of Candid Camera practical joke.  I would look at the head of one phallus and then up at the ceiling.  Back down at the shaft of another, and then to the corner of the courtroom.

This can't be real,  I thought.  There HAS to be a camera on me somewhere.  But this IS pretty good commentary about our judicial system.

In between my glances at the quite humbling dicks springing up in front of me, juror #45 would let out loud sighs.  He was a large man, with more girth (in his midsection) than anything in my sightline.  I felt like I was in the middle seat of a Southwest airlines flight, pushed to my right by the overflowing midsection to my left.

I'll shoot myself if I have to come back here tomorrow, he divulged to me after I gave him a smiling nod of recognition to his bored-out-of-his-mind sighs.

You see, while I was called into the courtroom as a potential juror -- ready, willing, and able to perform my civic duty -- I had little hope of actually being picked, which made the endeavor all that much more excruciating.  Those of us who were lucky enough to be jurors #36 to #50 were not directly talked to, not directly asked questions, and were told that IF the court needed our services, that IF the first 35 people were not enough, that IF by the end of the day they needed to interview us, they would.  Until that time, we should sit still and take notes (and draw penises).


Those Aren't Spikes on Batman's Head
On the way to the courthouse, I was getting myself pumped up.  I hadn't been called to jury duty since moving to San Diego, and was looking forward to being selected.  After I parked my car downtown, and walked south on Union St. toward the Hall of Justice, I was confronted by an extremely odd man, just a block or so from a rather large collection of sheriffs, judges, and attorneys. This man taught me a valuable lesson, though.  I had NO idea what it means to get pumped up.

He looked to be about 45 years old, balding, had an unkempt and scraggly beard...and was the proud owner of what appeared to be a 1970s-something Plymouth station wagon.  Now, I'm assuming he was proud of it for a number of reasons, which are definitely arguable:

  1. Keeping in mind that is was 7:30 AM, he had all four doors AND the trunk/hatch open while BLASTING...and I mean BLASTING Muse's Survival.
  2. He owned AND was wearing a full length, black trench coat (in San Diego) with the collar stylishly PUSHED UP, and I believe the coat purposely matched the color of his station wagon.  If I had to guess, it had to be a two-for-one deal.  Hey the trench coat; I'll throw in the station wagon!
  3. He was circling his prized vehicle and singing Survival, as loud as he could.  Now, I wouldn't claim he was a good fact, I might classify him as a scary dancer, but if you could imagine, he was doing his damn best to rock out to this extremely inspirational song, with FULL head bobs and white man's overbite.
  4. As I walked by him, we of course made eye contact because how was I NOT going to watch this Vegas-like show, FOR FREE, at 7:30 AM?  He smirked at me, and his eyes said it all: he had it going on, and he knew it.
I thought of the station wagon guy while I was being squished in my seat by the fat and flesh of juror #45 and bombarded by the penises of juror #39.

I choose to survive, 
Whatever it takes.

I had never really thought of the lyrics of this song before -- in fact, I don't think I had ever really even thought of this song before at all -- until a guy in a trench coat was blasting it out of his station wagon while f'ing me with his eyes.  Those kind of experiences have a way of burning a song into your memory.


By the time juror #39 was on to drawing penis ten or so, it was around 3:30.  We had an hour to go, and I was barely surviving.  Jurors 41 and 42 had become fast friends and were outwardly mocking some of the answers they were hearing.  It's hard to blame them, seeing as how we were only half-participating.

Just answer the question, lady, #41 would say.
What the F is wrong with her, #42 would add.

Giggle, giggle, in unison to my right.

SIGH, to my left.

A short, stubby one in front of me.

It was then that one of the attorneys asked an interesting question to the 35 other jurors (while completely ignoring us, of course).  He asked how many of them had been blackout drunk before. This question put the penises and sighs and giggles on hold.  The 15 of us on the non-important side of the room looked on in astonishment as almost every single person who mattered raised his/her hand.

We listened on as questions about how often, how recent, and how important the other 35 thought this was...while the 15 of us just got to sit, and listen, and...judge...what we heard.  Just like I presume the 12 people selected would do to the one person on trial.  Now, I have no idea what the case is really about, and if I did, I of course would not be able to say anything about it, but it was an interesting moment.  Just like when one of the attorneys asked:

How many of you think about how INNOCENT someone is when you see them pulled over on the side of the road by a policeman?

We think we know so much...based on how people they dress...the situations we see them in...the station wagons they own...the dicks they draw.  But we don't.  We don't know anything.


At about 4:25, I learned my fate.  Twelve lucky people were selected to be on the jury.  I, unfortunately, was not one of them.  There was a problem, though.  Only one person was left from the original 35 to be an alternate...and they needed two.  The judge met quickly with the attorneys...and they decided to bring the first eight of us on the non-important side of the room back the following day to choose an alternate juror from.  That would be jurors #36 through #43.  I missed the cut.  By one.

Juror #45 let out his biggest sigh of the day.  Jurors #41 and #42 stopped giggling for a moment.  Juror #39 probably had some sort of reaction...but I couldn't see it...because as I was looking to see what she would do, the judge had everyone, including the defendant, stand up...and I saw the person on trial more clearly than I had the entire day.

Tired.  Worn.  Stressed.  He looked like he hadn't slept.  Ever.  In his life.  And I felt for him.  He played a part in selecting 12 people that would decide his fate...based off of brief answers and how they looked.  Judging them as quietly and quickly as they him.

And those Muse lyrics struck I walked out the door, most likely never to see him again:

I choose to survive, 
Whatever it takes.  
You won't pull ahead
I'll keep the pace
And I'll reveal my strength
To the whole human race
Yes, I'm gonna win.