Doing my Civic Duty.

I spent my fair share of time in courts today.

I had the dreaded Jury Duty this morning. I was there about 3 hours… chosen for a panel. All 48 of us sat there for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes… finally a little after 11am, a deputy came in and told us the defendant plead guilty and we were no longer needed.

I have never been picked to serve on a jury, but I’ve been close. Unlike most patriotic Americans, whereas most are pissed off to receive their little yellow flyer in the mail, I am indifferent as to whether I get picked or not. If I get picked, I get paid at work, plus I get “time off” work, plus I get $40 a day from the courts. Not too shabby. If I don’t get picked I get a partial day off work, $6 bucks and a few hours to have read a book. It’s sort of a win-win for me. But I am in the very small minority. Most people will come up with any ole excuse to get out of there.

The one thing I don’t like is having to sit next to odd-ball people I don’t know, and don’t particularly care to know. I have sat next to the man who smells like he hasn’t had a bath this decade. I tried to not breathe, but that didn’t last long. I’ve sat next to the man who wants to constantly chat, about the weather, his job, the jury selection process, his cat… all the while I have my nose buried three inches into a book, trying my best to catch up on my reading. Some people just don’t get the picture.

Today, I sat next to a variety of people. The man to my right was perfect: he didn’t move much, only said one sentence to me, read his own book, and didn’t smell. The woman to my left, on the other hand, was from that category of people I label “The Loud Talkers.” She didn’t attempt to engage me in conversation, thank goodness, but the woman to her left was not so lucky. People three rows back could have heard this woman’s every sentence. The man behind me was find until about halfway through, when his foot tapping began. He was wearing boots, one ankle crossed over the other knee, foot tap tap tapping on the back of my seat. The noise didn’t bother me, but the constant jarring in my back did. Seeing how his kicking was a bullseye in the back of the perfect man next to me, I wasn’t the only one it was driving crazy. I turned to glare at him twice, but he was too busy people watching to meet my evil eyes. But the nice man next to me never uttered one word to him… maybe he’s too nice. Or numb from the shoulders down…

After my name was called, I went to the restroom and sat back down in a different place. My perfect pew sharer/fellow potential juror was released, and another annoying man chose a seat behind me. While we waited for the next step, most people read or quietly chatted with people around them, this man busted out some kind of an electronic device and proceeded to watch a movie. From the very loud sound of kicking and punching and grunting, I assume it had to be a stunning film worthy of an Oscar, with either the likes of Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme. Ugh.

I went to work after being released, like a good little worker is supposed to do, then to give plasma. After plasma, I swung by the Municipal court to settle me traffic ticket from the end of May. The lovely cop who pulled me over assured me that if I elected to take Defensive Driving, I wouldn’t have to pay anything. And I said, “Yeah, except the court costs.” And he assured me I wouldn’t have anything to pay.

WELL, he was either an idiot and doesn’t know how his own system works, OR he didn’t want me to argue, because he was wrong. I had to pay $111.10 for permission to take Defensive Driving, which costs at least $25. I also have to buy a copy of my driving record for $12. My ticket was only $125. So I had to pay way more than “only the Defensive Driving Course” as Mr. Policeman said.

The people in the municipal court building, as well as the building itself, are rather colorful themselves, more so than people waiting to serve on a jury (or rather, get dismissed from one). The chairs are hard metal and I imagine most of then have gum stuck under them. They are so close together that not only are you practically sitting on top of the person next to you, but you can also smell their breath.  The floors are stained and chipped. It smells. It’s hot. And dirty. The second I walked in there, I wanted out. Thankfully, I got out quicker this time than I did the last time.

I have had quite my fill of government working today, thank you.

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