I recently performed one of the most important civic duties we have as red-white-and-blue-blooded American citizens: jury duty. Sadly, this summons did not bear the fruit from which I could suck the sweet, nourishing juice of stern American justice. I got blue-balled by the court system. Sad, I know. But as always, I was proud to serve.
This being the age of oversharing and publishing the minutia of one's own life on social media to the benefit of no one, I decided to document my time waiting patiently in the jury pool, sitting among the throngs of fellow Americans who were as equally excited as I to cheek-slap a villain with the limp dick of law. At times, my account can get a little ugly, and it's occasionally frightening. But like America itself, it never stops trying to be both of those things.
Hour 1: Dawn Of Justice
It's 8 a.m. and here we are, in the hallowed halls of the law. In this building, scores of evildoers have met their fate. Not at the hands of a Superman or a Spider-Man, but at the hands of average, mostly under-educated citizens. The kind of everyday salt-of-the-earth folks you see out in the world and think, "No." We are among the few fortunate enough to be active participants in the realization of the U.S. constitution's finest amendment: the jury duty one. It's probably the 17th. Jury duty feels like a 17.
If it's not, I'm guaranteeing the real 17th amendment is not much more interesting.
I came prepared with all provisions necessary for maintaining a clear, active mind as I wait in the jury pool. I must use my iPad, smartphone, and the various apps contained within them to remain mentally limber, so I can pounce on the falsehoods hidden within the arguments of the accused. Oh, the accused are crafty; their lies honed to a cutting edge. An hour of flicking through my Netflix queue before settling on something I've seen many times before should do the trick.
Or, I can ignore Netflicking and instead get wrapped up in the inspiring film The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock. The fine people who run the jury selection process have chosen the film (for which Ms. Bullock received an Academy Award) to entertain us as we await our opportunity to wield the flaming broadsword of the law. It seems like a fine film, but I cannot allow it to distract me from today's duty.
My entertainment options are open. Now it's a matter of being selected. I'll make you proud, America.
Hour 2: Mid-Morning Of Justice
An hour in, I've already grown tired of my technology. Limitless entertainment, all a few swipes away, and not a bit of it is satisfying. I hunger for more. I yearn for substance. I desire the exhilaration of courtroom battle! In lieu of that, I stare at a fellow juror's ugly Hawaiian shirt. It's no epic fight between agents of deceit and paragons of truth, but it's got enough sailboats and hibiscus flowers to keep my mind occupied with perplexing questions like "Why?" and "Why?" but in italics.
Looking around, this seems to be the norm among male jurors. Some, like me, came dressed in a flawlessly ironed button-up shirt and slacks so khaki that they're the envy of every Christian missionary in the county. The summons specifically mentioned a strict dress code, but it did not mention that I could decide the fate of a human life while looking like Jimmy Buffet.
Mario Tama/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Go back to your lawless heathen sanctuary of Margaritaville, you beachcombing bastard!
I so itch to pass judgment on a case that I've developed a warm-up exercise to fight the fatigue of boredom. I close my eyes and, based solely on its appearance, bestow the first thing/person I see with a crime, and then pass judgment on it. The chairs? Guilty on millions of counts of inflaming hemorrhoids. The paint on the walls? Cleared on all charges of being pleasing. The guy to my left who thinks I can't see him picking his nose? Mistrial due to juror misconduct.
Admittedly, my patience has worn a bit thin. Two batches of names have been called, and I have not yet been honored to be one of them. No matter. Sandra Bullock just met the large shy kid, and I'm eager to find out how this encounter led to his ascent to NFL stardom.
This is fun. This is fun.
Hour 3: Snack Time Of Justice
More names have been called, and I'm still not one of them. I'm making do as best I can. I'm trying my damnedest to enjoy this Blind Side movie, but so far, it seems Ms. Bullock won an Oscar for playing one of those fembots Fox News calls news anchors. Due to the constant pausing of the film to make announcements regarding the jury selection, it's taken three hours to watch 35 minutes of a major Hollywood film that might as well be a Hallmark channel movie.
I've developed a Pavlovian response to the constant pausing. When it pauses, I perk up like a dog hearing the word "walk" in conversation, expecting my name to be called. I've not yet adjusted to the inevitable post-announcement letdown. It's a haymaker right to the testicles of my emotions. Why doesn't justice want me? Have I not proven time and time again that my opinions matter and, more importantly, are right?
Whatever. Their loss. I'm going to the cafeteria down the hall to pick up a sandwich. If I can't pass judgment on a perp, I can get real sassy about the quality of a public courthouse cafeteria ham and Swiss on wheat. And then I'll get real judgy about the state of their restrooms. If they're clean, I'm pooping on the geometric center of the floor.
But ... what if they call my name and I'm too busy eating and/or evacuating onto the floor of a courthouse? Hm.
I'll eat later. And I'm sure restroom floors have been pooped on already. This is a government building, after all.
P.S. We're 41 minutes into The Blind Side. It's been nearly four hours since I saw the opening titles.
Hour 4: Call Of Justice
My name and number were called moments after typing my last entry. I rocketed through the doors and cordially greeted the bailiff. He explained the jury box seating arrangement, the do's and don'ts of courtroom etiquette, and fuck him and the whole US legal system. The case we were assigned was settled out of court as we were walking down one flight of stairs from the jury pool to the courtroom.
I'm back in the waiting room and THE FUCKING BLIND SIDE IS STILL PLAYING. How many announcements can possibly be made that a two-hour movie gets stretched out to an all-day affair like a TNT Lord Of The Rings marathon? Is this courthouse a bubble of unstuck time flowing independently from the universe, like a dot of oil defiantly holding its shape as it's sloshed in water? When I walk back to my car, will I find that humans have evolved into floating fart clouds of thought?
I have to settle down. This isn't healthy. They can't do this to us. It's not right.