A Harrowing Tale Of Jury Duty Madness
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.
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.
Hour 5: Goddamn Piece Of Shit Of Justice
Regaining my composure has been ... difficult. And it's not just me. The room has been whittled down to fewer than 40 potential jurors, all of whom are squirming in their seats, waiting to be called to salvation. I think I saw one man try to eat his own arm. Maybe he was just picking out something from his back teeth. But if it turned out that he was eating his arm, I'd cheer him on. If he was full by the time he got to his elbow, I'd call him a pussy, then tell him that real men eat to the deltoid. Builds character.
My fellow jurors and I find some solace in catching each other's eyes and exchanging nods of solidarity. With only our pupils, we express a Russian novel's worth of pain. Then, with our middle fingers, we express other feelings. I fear these walls are turning us on ourselves, too. My perception of reality can no longer be trusted. I labeled this entry as "Hour 5," but in truth, I have no idea how long it's been. I found myself watching, and thoroughly enjoying, The Blind Side for what felt like at least 20 uninterrupted minutes. It ultimately turned out that I wasn't even looking at the TV, and the "movie" was a white lady idly sitting beside a black man, but still -- her performing was incredible.
She really made me believe she liked black people. Maybe that's why Sandra Bullock got the Oscar? Does she have a history of vocal racism? Was she playing against type? If so, then bravo, Bullock!
Hour ????: jkhgxhfghf Of Justice
I am a bear.
Hour 7, 8, Or 9: Freedom Of Justice
The Blind Side is ... off. It's just ... not on. But ... it usually pauses for the announcements. Could a complete stop mean ... no. Could it be ... over?
Curiosity ripples through the remaining few. Did we do it? Did we survive? A voice speaks over the PA system. I don't remember the words. But the feeling ... oh, the feeling. A glow, a warm glow rolling through my blood. And a smile. I remember smiles.
There have been too many false saviors. We can't trust happiness. We rise from our seats and cautiously step outside the doors of the jury pool room. Will the door slam shut on us? Could a buzz saw slice us in half for daring to leave? One by one, we scurry beyond the door frame, trying to avoid booby traps, quickly grabbing our certificates of appreciation.
Unaware of the outside's hypnotic call, we stagger through hallways and elevators with no clue where we are headed, only knowing, somehow, that we are going to a better place.
We are blinded upon opening the doors. We wince at the sight of the ball of flame above our heads. Is this the outside? Have we done it? What began as hundreds has ended as a handful. We are The Dismissed -- we survived a full day in the jury pool, a place where they break you to pieces and then keep the parts that matter. They took a part of my humanity I will never get back, and then made me think I was a sad bear. But I stole one of their pens. Retribution is mine, and so is the pen.
For more from Luis, check out 5 Awful Traits Group Chats Bring Out In People and The 4 Steps Of Adjusting To A Whole New Group Of Friends.