Here comes da’ Judge

It started, as most things do, on a random Tuesday. Despite what people like to say about Mondays, I find that Tuesdays are truly the worst days. Monday may be the start of the work week but you can always fake your way through it. People spend most of Monday recalling the great things that happened over the weekend. Most are busy checking the emails that they blew off on Friday afternoon. The rest of the people are either too tired, too sunburned, or too hung over to really have the energy to take it as a serious day of work and even if you don’t accomplish jack squat you have the comfort in the fact that you have 4 more days to catch it up.  Additionally,  of the eleven National Holidays that we as Americans celebrate, five of them fall on a Monday. That means that if the government would just do as I suggested and move every national, religious, and cultural holiday into a single month, I like the idea of calling it “Do Nothing-tember” of course to be followed by “Broke-tober”, we could actually wipe an entire month of Mondays off the calendar.

I like the whole concept of Wednesdays. I love the “Hump Day” designation.  I would like it better if Hump Day actually referred to camels, but nothing is perfect. Plus the week is 50% over and if my years spent in public schools taught me any thing it is that 50% is good enough.

Thursdays are basically Friday Eve. You have the motivation that if you just knock it all out at work on Thursday you can just cruise into the weekend. Thursday nights are also great for going out as a kind of “on-deck circle” for Friday nights. It doesn’t really feel like you have to work the next day, although you probably do, cause the boss will either come in late on Friday or not all at. So you can go out and get a good baseline drunk going . You won’t go get smashed but you will probably be just lubricated enough to make some plans for Friday night that will turn out to be really bad ideas and as I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I love bad ideas.

Friday is just Friday. Its a kind of like you are running a 5k race. You may have walked almost the whole time but you will sprint the last 20 feet to the finish line and feel like you have kicked ass the whole way. Plus, Friday also usually means either a short day or a long lunch so either way you have made it.

But, Tuesday! Tuesday how I hate you. Tuesday, you bastard child of Sunday and Monday. The weekend is too far behind you for you to feel its warmth and too far ahead of you for you to see its light. It is a day when your bosses actually expect you to “work” and they use words like “focus” and “effort” and “responsibilities”. These words are all too often followed by other ones like,” its your job” and “thirty day notice” and “fired”. Even if you do have the inner fortitude to take all that Tuesday has to offer at the office, when you get home you have a whole new set of traps that Tuesdays has put out for you. Odds are that Fridays paycheck is long gone. When you check you bank account o the computer, you see images of cobwebs and tumbleweeds. The last time I called the bank’s  voice automated account line on Tuesday to check my balance, I could actually hear an  echo. Even worse is that by Tuesday you are socially obligated to call and talk to the people who you have avoided conversing with since Friday.

This particular Tuesday had set a far more devious trap and it used the United States Postal Service to spring it. Since I have been taking a month long sabbatical, I like that word better  than referring  to it as the month I have been sitting on my ass eating pop tarts and playing Madden, the grand schemes that Tuesdays like to hurl at me at work can’t reach me. Since I have not bought a calendar since sometime in the mid 1990s, there are days that I may not even be fully aware of the date. So Tuesday can hide, and wait. It was such a day when I went to get the mail. The mailbox was full of the usual envelopes of credit card offers and coupons for places that I have never heard of. I filed the mail as I usually do, I threw it on the dining room table as I passed by. Then, I saw it. It emerged from between the flyers of the 5 Rent-to-Own places that send us weekly ads. It wasn’t an envelope. It was far more evil.

It was rectangular in shape and had a strange seal upon the front. It possessed no traditional triangular flap in order to release its evil. No, it had tabs you had to tear off. Now, there are three things in life that freak me out. They are clowns(duh!), carnies( have little feet, smell like cabbage) and envelopes that  you have to follow directions to open. Clearly this was my nemesis, the non tent related thing that I fear. Unlike regular envelopes, which may contain the birthday cards from relatives written in old lady script, or notifications about parties to come(not everybody uses Facebook to invite people), or promises of great wealth from imprisoned Nigerian royalty. Envelopes with tabs always bring ill tidings. They are either pin numbers to atm cards that are linked to accounts with zero balances or notice from the friendly community “non-profit” utility provider informing you that if you don’t pay up, you are about to have a lot more in common with the Amish than your crappy beard. This piece of correspondence was neither. It was that which all men dread, Jury Duty.

You know that a thing is the embodiment of all that Hell can spawn, if it has the same name as a Pauly Shore movie. I am fairly confident that I will end my life at the hands of a serial killer who calls himself Encino Man, but I digress. As I read through  the official jury notice, I paid attention to the rules and requirements of my obligation. I love how they make it so clear that failure to as directed could result in jail time. I love the fact that the person who skips jury duty will face deeper sanctions than the person on trial. Since I have this medical condition, I am allergic to jail. I decided to comply with my civic call. That’s just me. I am a giver.

Here is how I envision my day of jury duty. Trust me, it will be the worst $15.00 the state of Florida has ever spent.

First of all, a little background on the legal system in northeast Florida. We have just recently opened the new courthouse that has been under construction since slightly before the last ice age. It is a beautiful monument to what bribes and poor urban planning can do to a city. It is my honor and privilege to profane and defile such lovely architecture. I also feel the need to inform you that despite what is shown in every movie based on John Grisham‘s novels that yes we do have air conditioning.

The notice informs me that parking is about is rare as a Chicago Cub World Series, so I am encouraged, I love it when the government encourages me to do stuff like pay my taxes, to park at Ever-bank Field and take a shuttle to the courthouse. Ever- bank field is the home to our beloved Jacksonville Jaguars, no they haven’t moved yet, and I have spent quite a bit of time at that stadium’s parking lot so I feel comfortable with the arrangement. or at least I thought I would be comfortable. Apparently, you are NOT supposed to tailgate before jury duty. The lovely officer informed me that if that if you are tailgating more than a month before the next football game, then it is not tailgating. It is just being drunk in a parking lot. I guess we would have been nicer if the burgers and hot dogs had been done. Then the attitude really started. Much to my surprise, the court shuttle drivers don’t find it funny when you jump into the bus and yell”follow that car”. The guys on the monorail at Disney World thought it was hilarious. Also, not a good idea to try to collect fares from the other people on the bus, none of them had exact change. I tell you one thing, it is no fun to play “Punch Buggy”  with a blind guy. He hits like a girl.

It was such a unique experience for me to enter a courthouse from the front door and its harder to know how to space yourself from the man in front of when you are not shackled to him. I really enjoyed the security process but I may have pushed it too far the fourth time I asked for the pat down. I also got quite the odd looks when I started giggling like a school girl every time  I said that I was there for Jury “Doodie”.

We were brought in and told to wait. Thanks to my ADD, that seemed like an eternity. Finally we were told to proceed to the courtroom so we could be examined by the lawyers. Much to my chagrin, this for some reason requires us not to take out shirts off and wave them in the air. Today is just such a learning experience. My fellow juror asked if I had ever served before and found my story about being the fourth judge on American Idol to be a bit far fetched. The process was long and boring so you are encouraged to bring something to occupy your time. Items that they approve include crossword puzzles and cross stitch but they didn’t seem to appreciate my serenading the courtroom with my skills on the kazoo..

Some other things I learned:

  • Asking,” how much time til Wapner gets here”  is frowned upon.
  • Do not refer to the bailiffs as Officer Friendly. They also refuse to address me as “Commodore” no matter how may times I reminded them.
  • Do not answer the questions on the interview form in pig latin.
  • Lawyers have  very short tempers, especially when you keep referring to them as Matlock.
  • Every body thought it was funny when I stood up and yelled,”You Are Not The Father!” Well, everybody but the guy with the tazer.
  • The choices are guilty or not guilty. Damn Skippy is not an acceptable alternative.
  • It would be nice if for once some one could call me sir, without adding ,”you are making a scene”.
  • No one will tell you when Batman is going to testify.
  • Gavels hurt.
  • Only the presiding  judge is allowed to show up in a robe, and apparently no one is supposed to wear a snuggy.

There are only a few finite ways to be excused from jury duty and just yelling,” Not It” is not one of them. So I will probably get to serve and I guess that is what’s wrong with the system. Your fate is in the hands of 12 people, not smart enough to get out of jury duty.




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