Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Fought The Law and The Law Won

I've spent the last two days on a jury, and thought to myself, "Self, I'm going to blog about my experience."  But when I actually sat down to blog, I found myself in a very unfunny state of mind.  You might find yourself saying, "Self, she's never in a funny state of mind.  What the hell is she talking about?" and in that case, today's blog will not disappoint.  To get myself into what I consider my "Happy Blogging Place", I had to watch some random internet things, like the "I'm Yours Ukulele Boy" on the Ok Go site.  Or Jimmy Fallon singing karaoke with Maya Rudolph.  Or reading The Bloggess' post on eBay to sell her camera mildly damaged by ghosts.  Sigh.  It brings me joy to see happiness on the Internet.  So many funny people, so little time.

SO, three weeks ago I get a summons to appear for jury duty.  I thought, "Well, this sort of sucks, but hey, I'm free."  I was to call a number after 5 p.m. on Friday, April 23 to find out if I was to serve on April 26.  I called, and hey!  Get out of Jury Duty free!  The next Friday, I called after 5 p.m., and again, no Jury Duty for me on May 3.  This Jury Duty thing was going great!  Then I called last Friday after Graham left, and found out I was to report for duty on Monday, May 10.  

And then I lost my shit.  

Because anyone who has been following this blog for any amount of time (Hi Mom!) knows that I am actively stalking Jen Lancaster (My Fair Lazy, in bookstores now!) Jen is having a book signing this Friday, May 14, at the Borders in downtown Chicago.  The friend who introduced me to Jen is driving from Des Moines on Thursday, and after my kids are dropped off at school on Friday we are getting the heck out of Dodge and driving to Chicago so we can have a liquid lunch, hook up with some of our fellow sor-whores from college and talk about the glory days, and stake out Jen at the book signing.  My friend is bringing the plastic cuffs and the taser gun, and I am bringing the camera.  I probably won't be out of Cook County Jail before the weekend is up, so that blog is scheduled for Monday of next week.
BUT ...first I have to serve my country.
and what if serving my country takes until Friday?  I cannot stalk Jen Lancaster from the Quad Cities.  Hotel rooms have been prepaid.  Travel plans are in place.  Books have been purchased.  Attorneys have been retained.  Batteries have been refreshed in Taser gun.  I'm all but standing in front of the Goddess of Blog-to-Book Writing, and a judge has come between us, and not in the way we all expected.

 I talked to attorney friends about how to get out of this.  I thought disqualifying thoughts.  I Googled it.  Did you know there are 3,510,000 entries online under the subject "Jury Duty Excuses"?  This is a popular subject.  The first one, on Wikiask.com, says to find loopholes in your local laws regarding jury selection, ask about the right to "veto", say you're too poor, ask for deferments, etc.  Helpfully, their last tip is "Once you are sworn in you should always tell the truth".  So, LIE YOUR ASS OFF, and then when you are sworn in, tell the truth as you are legally bound to do.  This is not MY advice, this is INTERNET advice.  It's like going to WebMD instead of a real doctor.  You will always end up with cancer on WebMD, so you might as well just take your medicine and deal with the issue properly.

I showed up for Jury Duty.  I had to check my cell phone and any recording devices at the security area, along with removing my belt, shoes and necklace so the metal detector wouldn't peg me as someone packing heat or hiding a blade.  I also had to take a drink of my coffee in front of them so I could prove I wasn't bringing a cup of gasoline or battery acid into the court.  However, I lost all ability to take pictures for the blog.  Hello!  Don't they know I have a couple of relatives and prisoners to entertain online?  Priorities, people.  The security guards were very nice and funny, but every single time they checked my purse, the guys would say, "Hey!  You brought me a snack!" and I found myself wondering if they were referring to my Medifast bars, my cough drops, or my tampons.  I mean every. time. and I went through that thing about 12 times.

I got in for initial selection, and there were probably 24 people in there.  They took out an old drum (not the instrument, the round, barrel-like item), and drew sixteen names from it.  There was a Jan. Close.  A Judith.  Closer.  And then prospective juror number 12 was me.  Damn. It. All.  The Sweet Sixteen got in the jury box, and the judge told us about the case, in District Court concerning Age Discrimination.  A truck driver for a small concrete company was suing that they fired him for his age at 78.  The attorneys were asking questions of the jurors, like "Have any of you worked for concrete companies?" or "Have any of you driven a truck?" and I'm looking around and a bunch of people are raising their hands, and I realize I am so totally screwed.  I am just vanilla ice cream enough for them to want me.  The plantiff will think "Mother of three, sentimental" and the defense will think, "Younger, self-employed, side with company".  

I could see a woman behind me with "CAT LADY" written all over her, and she even wore a little silver bell around her neck that jingled constantly and conjured up the commercial for Fancy Feast cat food and I thought, "No.  Not her.  Please."  My fears were unfounded, because when they asked her occupation, she said, "Preacher's wife" and said, unsolicited, "And I'm VERY happily married!" and gave a beatific smile, and I thought, "She's outta here".  I should be a professional, because I picked six of the eight people selected for the jury, including myself. 

The trial commenced immediately.  As much as I didn't want to be there, it was all a little fascinating.  At our first recess, the eight of us sat in the Jury Room and drank government-issue Diet Coke and government-issue Oreos.  As a matter of fact, this room had a coffee pot, a mini-fridge full of waters and sodas, and a Rubbermaid tub full of snacks.  I was starting to warm up to Jury Duty.  I found myself thinking about all of the things I could get out of while I sat around learning about my seven new best friends and eating Oreos and drinking coffee.  Hmmm.  Maybe I could stick around until Thursday.  Get me some flannel pj bottoms and ankle socks and I'd be in heaven.

The trial took two days, and at about 4 p.m. today closing arguments were done.  The jury went back to our special Oreo/Coffee room and deliberated.  We found for the plaintiff and awarded damages, and then we were all a little sad to leave.  We had grown to love our judge, and take an interest in each other.  Dare I say, it was...fun?  I don't know any of their last names, other than one was McVeigh and I remember that because of Timothy McVeigh and my birthday is the same day as the Oklahoma City bombing, but I managed to not bring that up, but I really liked all of those people.  They were all interesting people from different towns in Eastern Iowa (I lived the closest), and we all sort of awkwardly said goodbye to each other and went our separate ways, bound together by our case.

And now I am free to make my pilgrimage to Jen.  The Lacoste is ready, the pearls on standby, the flask is clean, and amazon.com SAYS my copy of My Fair Lazy is to be here tomorrow.  We shall see.  In the meantime?  I actually recommend jury duty, if you are able.  I fought the law and the law won.  Which is good, because I am still active in the jury pool until May 21.  Wish me luck!  I hope the next Jury Room has Fudge Stripe Cookies.



CeCe Savage said...

I've been called for jury duty a couple of times, but they had the uncanny knack of setting it for when I had finals. I wonder if I would've gotten a story this interesting out of it. Probably not, lol.

A Researcher of Life

Wendy Ramer said...

Been called up twice, called into chambers only once, and not selected b/c one of the attorneys was a high school buddy of mine. As soon as I saw his face, I knew my time there would be short. Have to admit I was disappointed.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Whew - I was worried for a while there you were going to miss out! And I'm crazy envious, it's been a lifelong dream of mine to get jury duty!

Joe Ambrosino said...

Very funny post, dear but you totally wimped out on trying to be excused. The trick is to come off very opinionated. Is it a trial that involves identifying a perk? Say, "I know I could never be sure about a proper identification". Will damages be rewarded? Say, "I think juries award money too liberally".You get the idea. If either lawyer thinks you are a prejudiced a- hole,you're out of there!

Julie, The Wife said...

But they didn't ask me any questions! Unless I had driven a truck or worked in concrete, I wasn't allowed to speak! And trust me, I had it all figured out..."Will anyone here take unmarked bills to get me out of this?" or "It takes me three weeks to pick a nail polish color" or "I have herpes!" or "I'm quite flatulent", but I never got the microphone. Too many guys in concrete who drive trucks. They didn't ask any normal, screening type questions, trust me.

Shiny said...

Hilarious! So glad you made it out alive and can be on your way to Jen!! (BTW thanks so much for turning me on to her--can't wait to read the latest!) Looking forward to the details of your adventure. Oh--and my husband just got picked for jury duty as well, and told a similar story of selection. Funny! Only, he hates his job so bad, he was THRILLED to get picked!! ...That's when you know it's time to look for a new job....

ForeverRhonda said...

OMG I totally stalk Jen Lancaster too! I adore her, she came to Dallas and I couldn't get off work, and now I'm unemployed! I should have taken that damn day off.

I've never even been called for jury duty, I always hope though. I think it would be interesting.

GrandeMocha said...

Good luck on the Jenquest.

They always accept a deal and I never get to be on the jury. I think it is my killer Adrienne Vittadini black suit that I wear with my killer, black patent pumps.

chasing empty pavements said...

A fellow Iowan going to visit Jen?! I am envious in every sense of the word. I have been searching for a road trip partner to see her in Chicago, but none of my friends find her as hilarious as I do. Have fun lucky duck.

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