Image Map

The Urban Juror (Part 3)

Jun 12, 2013

Weeeeeeeeeeeeell this is embarrassing. I've actually had this third part mostly written for a month and a half. Before you find out the ending -- because I know you're all on the edge of your seats! -- I'll give you a quick rundown of why I've been so lazy about blogging:

1) Overall, the job I took last summer was very demanding of my time, and I didn't have much mental energy to write.

2) I went on vacation to the West Coast in March, came back to work, and almost immediately went back to the West Coast for a family emergency.

3) Soon after, I had scheduled surgery on my ankle (the one that I've been complaining about for almost three years).

4) I was laid off. 

5) I started a new job working on military stuff again, which I've decided is my calling in life. PR was fun for a while, but, as you know, I heart the Department of Defense

6) While
funemployed (as I tried to convince myself it was every day of that very scary month), I got through the first season of "Prison Break" and several episodes of "Lockdown," a documentary series about what it's like inside America's prisons. I am never breaking the law.

Now that the "Prison Break" fellas have broken out (and season two is getting pretty hokie), I'm ready for a little break of my own, which is why I'm back here. And now, without further ado, the conclusion to "The Urban Juror."

(Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here)

The next morning was dark and dreary, foreshadowing my impending doom? I only took one bag -- having learned the very painful lesson from the day before (my shoulders hurt for three days, and not in that "I-feel-the-burn-and-now-am-less-fat" way) -- with one magazine, my book, laptop, a peanut butter and honey sandwich and Cool Ranch Doritos, and two bottles of water (still not trusting the water source in a public building). I left my apartment for court with plenty of time to get there, but I arrived 10 minutes late because someone had been struck at Gallery-Place and the trains were single tracking.

MORE VAGRANTS!!! I thought. I immediately felt terrible since someone could have very well died, but since the events of the day before, all I could think about was how annoying it was that people engage in unlawful tomfoolery in the first place. Those people were keeping normal, law-abiding citizens like me from our respectable jobs, which we need to go to in order to pay taxes to keep the city running. And now, here I am having to put that aside and give up my time to deal with their bad choices, yet we need normal, law-abiding citizens to be responsible for this sort of thing so justice will be served and we can keep more incidents like this one from happening. We must show there will be consequences for their bad behavior. 

Or something like that. Honestly, I was still wondering if I could pull this off:

But because no one knew that, I decided to put off the "responsible citizen" vibe and entered the court room feeling smugly civic again, with about 60 other unfortunate souls, many of whom I hadn't noticed the day before. The defendants were looking quite innocent on this second day, but I felt little sympathy for them. We sat in our same seats, and the white noise came on. Somehow, the woman who had been sitting next to me the day before had not yet figured out that jury duty was boring and you should probably bring a book. I spent most of the morning writing the first part of this story, and she read along and chuckled every once in a while. It was sort of rude, but her laughter was so gratifying, it egged me on to write more and more outlandish (but true!) things. I figured she would appreciate it more than anyone else, so I adjusted in my seat to angle my laptop screen toward her and pretended not to notice she was laughing. 

Four hours in, we were dismissed for lunch. As I was wandering around looking for a place to sit and eat, I noticed a familiar face: former-roomie Margaret's boyfriend! We exchanged empathetic looks. He was going through what I'd gone through the day before. I told him how I might miss Jamie's wedding. He hadn't yet had the chance to tell the judge why he was a bad fit for the jury. I was fearful my reasons weren't good enough and there was no way I was getting out of the four-week civil service. 

It was beginning to feel like we were the ones on trial. (Too dramatic?)

He must have seen the look of doom in my eyes because he suddenly changed the subject. "I'm asking Margaret to marry me this weekend." [Editor's Note: It has been so long ago that this happened that they've actually gotten married.] He showed me the ring that he got off her Pinterest page (it looked something like this) and he told me all about his proposal strategy. It was kind of complicated so I don't remember it all that well now, but it involved a train, which right there sounds romantic and original and maybe a bit dangerous. The main takeaway was he got her ring off her Pinterest page, which obviously prompted me to set up a board titled "A Girl Can Dream." And no, it's not a hidden board, DUH.

Oh, but I guess the bigger takeaway was that I decided during that conversation that I didn't want to be on a jury, at least not at that time. (During Funemployment 2013 I would make up for this with about a dozen speeding and parking tickets, so it all goes full circle. Yay.)

Long story short but at this point it's still pretty long...I went back into the courtroom and waited impatiently for a few more hours, and then the judge called out names for the jury. This is really terrible to say, but they called a girl who looked kind of like me, and after that I hoped willed knew that I was safe, because there was no way another one of us was going to make it on the jury. 

And, when the judge dismissed the rest of us, I am very sorry to say that this played through my head as I walked out of the court room:

(Definitely too dramatic.)

In the end, I got a $4 check from DC, which helped pay for the $300 in fines they hit me with in May. (They're also trying to charge me $400 for something else, but that's another story for another post if I ever decide to write on my blog again.) I got to go to San Diego for Jamie's wedding, and I have no idea what happened to those poor boys being charged with murder. I do have more sympathy for them now, though, since I watched "Inside Bloods and Crips: LA Gangs" (one of the many from Funemployment 2013), a telling look into how gangs form and why guns are so prevalent in gang culture. And now knowing what I know about prison, sitting in a courtroom for a month doesn't seem so bad. Unless you're being charged with murder of course. 

Hence the moral of this story (I think?): Don't break the law! But do expect to pay lots of fines regardless of how upstanding a citizen you are. 

1 comment: