I’m fairly certain this was only the third time I’ve been called, during my entire ridiculous life. Twice to Lackawanna County Court in Scranton, and once to Los Angeles County, but after we’d already moved here. So, I’ve only actually reported twice. It seems like some people are called all the time, but not me. Sometimes I wish I’d get involved in a long drawn-out trial, maybe with sequestration and all that. I think it would be interesting, for sure. But I’ve never made it anywhere near an actual jury. I’ve only done time in the pre-jury holding pen, and been dismissed.
Yesterday I went down there and entered the garage where they provide free parking. That thing must have been built during the 1930s, and was extremely narrow and dark. It felt like something out of SAW. There was a lot of construction going on in there, and many of the parking spots were filled with heavy machinery. I just kept climbing up, up, up, and was possibly in a neighboring building at the end. Then I emerged into sunlight on the roof of this horror movie, where I finally found a few open parking spaces. Grrr…
Some guy in a giant pickup truck parked near me, climbed out, and immediately said, “This is bullshit.” Being on the same wavelength, we began a conversation. He was there for jury duty too, and predicted we’d be “out in four minutes.” I told him that’s pretty optimistic, and he repeated, “Four minutes!”
We went looking for an elevator, and never found one. While searching, an older man joined us and he was listening to an obnoxious sports talk radio show through his phone. And that thing was cranked! Everybody on there had a strong NY/NJ accent, which makes a person sound perpetually exasperated. Going on and on about the Yankees, etc. And the three of us walked down, down, down the stairs… ’cause there was apparently no longer an elevator in the building.
The old dude didn’t say a word to us until we got near the courthouse. Then he pointed and said, “You gentlemen are going to want to go through those doors there, and I’ll see you on the inside!” Then he walked away with his impossibly loud talk show blaring. Who the fuck was that guy?
The room upstairs was packed to the gills, and there was an overflow section in the hall, also super-crowded. How many people do they call to these thing? Holy shit. There must have been 200 people, and that’s not an exaggeration. I found an open chair, but was wedged between two guys who were slathered in cologne. I’m in hell… I confirmed to myself inside my head. Last time I went through this thing I was there for eight hours, before they mercifully let us go. Nobody said a word to me, I just sat for eight hours and a man eventually came in and told us we’re free to go. But it wasn’t so freaking crowded then. This was going to be an ordeal.
Then I heard the radio show again. Off in the distance, but getting louder. It was that dude, now wearing a fancy blazer, greeting people as he walked. I still don’t know what his role was there, but everybody knew him, and he knew everybody. And he was still tapped into NYC sports talk at a very high volume.
After a while a gentlemanly older man in judge’s robes appeared and asked us all to squeeze into the main room. The temperature inside was way too high, probably because of the overload of humanity in there. I looked around and was disgusted by many in the crowd. People wearing sweats… cargo shorts… Spongebob pajama pants… There were many baseball caps and hoodies with construction company logos on the back. Some big woman was piled in a chair wearing an Ocean City 2015 shirt. I wondered if she’d decided to dress up today and rejected the 2011 shirt?
Finally the judge started talking to us, but in a very hushed tone. I could make out maybe every other word. Very soft spoken. He was telling a story about Vietnam, where he said he served as a young man. It was heart-wrenching tale, apparently, but it was hard to follow. Then, an amazing thing happened. The guy with the sports talk reappeared in the hallway, with the volume at the same outrageous level. He was way down the hall, but the radio show was louder than the judge. Then the guy called into the show! I ain’t shittin’ ya. He called into the talk show and was on the air.
“Thanks for taking my call, Marco!” he shouted. Right in the middle of the Vietnam tale. “Let me throw a name out at you! Horace Clarke. Are you familiar with Horace Clarke?! Played in the ’60s, fantastic underrated player!” It went on and on, and you could hear both sides of the conversation, because it was on speaker. The judge was whispering his story that probably had a poignant and relevant payoff at the end, and I was 100% focused on this loud baseball talk down the hall. It was crazy! Like something off Green Acres. But the judge didn’t seem to notice, and continued without acknowledging the insanity.
After the talk was over we went back to our cramped seats, and waited. I couldn’t stand being wedged between those two cologne boys, so I got up and began pacing. And I overheard a snippet of a conversation that included the line, “It’s hard to get work as a dietician when you’re a big fat person.”
Eventually a woman appeared and announced that she was going to call 45 names, and those people would be going upstairs with her and “getting to spend the day with us.” So, she started listing ’em off and my name was never called. She took the “lucky” 45, and disappeared. We were told not to move, that somebody would be in shortly to tell us what was happening next. And about five minutes later a guy came in and told us we were free to go. Ninety minutes total… Not bad at all. I was there from 9 to 10:30. A little longer than the 4 minutes my new friend predicted, but I wasn’t complaining. “Screw it. I’m telling my boss I’m on a case. I’m not going back until Thursday,” he told me as we walked back to the scary parking garage. “You sound like one hell of an employee,” I wanted to reply. But I just laughed and wished him luck.
What kind of jury duty experiences have you had? Anything crazy? Please tell us about it in the comments section. Supposedly I’m good for three years now. We’ll see.
Last night I uploaded a new episode of the podcast. It’s available right here, or wherever you get podcasts. Here’s your summary:
In this one, I tell you about our incredibly active weekend that included a radical overhaul of the Surf Report bunker, the surprise arrival of a commercial dumpster in our driveway, and a crazy turn of events while receiving a quote on some extensive landscaping work. I also discuss the great new Deadwood movie and play another message left on the Surf Report podcast hotline that touches off a lengthy story from olden times. It’s a fun episode. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for listening!
Also, give us a call at the new hotline! You might end up in a future episode of the podcast. Just leave a message, ask a question, make a suggestion, whatever floats your ferry.
And the new Deadwood movie debuted on HBO on Friday. Needless to say, I was there with my fuck-counting pad. Check it out. It was still fairly fuck-heavy, but not anywhere near the high bar set by the series. It was great, though. I plan to watch it again real soon. Let us know your thoughts if you’ve seen it.
I’ll be back on Thursday.
Have a great one, my friends!