Sunday, October 08, 2006

Down By Law

The Serendipitous Chef has been taken down by the law. Sort of. I plead my case here.

Since Tuesday afternoon, I have become part of ‘The People’.

Ostensibly there to right wrongs, dole out justice, put the evil doers behind bars, all that crap.

Jury duty. And picked to sit on a trial.

It has killed my ability to blog, as I have to do everything else I am not doing all day long while I am sitting in a court room.

Now, I’ve seen the movie Runaway Jury.

Along with a few other movies concerning trials.

And those jury folks ate WELL. I mean really well! White table cloths, multi-courses menus, wine, the works.

All nonsense!

The Serendipitous Chef is on jury duty. And the food is bad! And I’m a prisoner to this bad food.

For those who may not be familiar with our jury system here, it works sort of like this:

Random people are coerced under penalty of jail to sit in a huge room with hundreds of other likewise coerced people for hours and hours with TVs showing day time game shows. Bad food and worse coffee are offered at fantastically high prices, much like in a bad airport, as a sort of shock technique. All this is to psychologically wear you down to the point that you begin agreeing to anything to get this duty over with.

At random points during the day, people are selectively singled out and shipped off to points unknown, most never return. Everyone cowers as names are read off, the unlucky shuffle off to their fate, those not called collapse back into their chairs, damp with sweat and still quivering from fear.

Then it happened. My name was called. The first time, I was so surprised, I didn’t react. No problem, they repeated it louder. Everyone began looking around to see who this apparent unpatriotic resistor to the American Way could be. As they called my name the third time, I could see they were already issuing orders to round up my family and seize my assets. I stood up and acknowledged my presence.

Actually, I had a mouthful of that awful coffee in my mouth, and it took a few seconds to get it down before I could respond. Still, I could see them gleefully contemplating who would get my 12 year old Ford (low mileage).

You may have seen court room dramas on TV. But the real world is nothing like this.

The real world is like two 2 year olds fighting over one scoop of ice cream. With a beleaguered, overtaxed parent, totally exasperated and almost comatose, paying just enough attention to see that they don’t actually come to physical blows.

After some hours spent watching these emotionally and socially underdeveloped misanthropes quibble in the most painfully tedious manner possible (It’s mine! No mine! I called it first! No you didn’t! Mom! I had it first! No you didn’t! Mom! She touched me!! Give it back! Mom!!! And so on), you get another chance to empty your wallet on some over priced, poorly prepared, categorically unhealthy food. High in fat and salt, and low in any sort of actual nutritionally contributing elements.

And you get to enjoy this dream meal while sitting amongst other teams of people with other, similar misanthropic quibbles.

The overall impression one is left with is that of immense sadness.

These quibbles, which have involved hundreds of people by the time they reach here, are mainly the result of stubbornness. Either in the ability to find some reasonable common ground in the case of accidents, or in the inability to admit the truth in most other cases.

Other discussions revolve around giving away children, as if they were some sort of furniture. Playing newly restricted parent-child visiting time against additional money.

After a few days of bad food, worse coffee, restricted movement, and having to listen to these overgrown toddlers quibble, you become afraid.

Afraid of the day that your life and livelihood may be put in the hands of this system, these lawyers, and these jurors, who by now are so pissed at the whole nonsense, so sick from the food, and so mind numbingly nauseous from the incredible tedium, they are ready to throw everyone behind bars – including the lawyers and judges.

Me? I would have been happy if the food had been like in the movies. Justice on an empty stomach? Not possible!

Only two more weeks of this to go! Will blog as time permits!

4 Comments:

Blogger Kalyn said...

So sorry to hear it. One of my good friends in Salt Lake just got called for Jury Duty too.

8:09 PM  
Blogger tech_samaritan said...

Funny how we are friends of Justice, yet we make it so hard to want to be involved. When I was selected, I was quickly let go by the prosecution because I was a young male, just like the defendant who was charged with all sorts of juvinile stuff, including assaulting an officer. They probably would have wanted me on their side...

4:20 AM  
Blogger Dick Margulis said...

Sympathies. You've got it worse than I had it.

In the early 1970s I was called for jury duty in Federal District Court in Manhattan. I got picked for a jury the same morning I arrived (no waiting room food, I'm happy to say). During the trial, which lasted several days, jury members were on their own for lunch and, being within a short walk of Chinatown, we were delighted with that arrangement.

Once deliberations began, though, we were in the care of the court, and the bailiffs escorted us to a restaurant of their choice. This was a place that I honestly do not think could have survived in New York without a steady stream of federal jurors. Yes, the food was that bad. And we had to pay for our own. Separate checks, please.

The next day, we arrived at a verdict around 11:30 am and were ready to reenter the courtroom. The judge decided, though, to wait until after lunch. I imprudently (as well as impudently) spoke up, accusing the bailiff of being on the payroll of the restaurant and suggesting that the jurors find their own lunch, as our work was done. Unh-unh. Not only did we have to eat in the same wretched place again, but the bailiff reported me and I was charged with contempt of court. Now THAT was fun. Not.

4:22 AM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

I guess I struck a bit of a chord!

Listening to the lawyers twist the words of the witnesses, and listening to the different groups talk about how to divy up the kids is frustrating and sad.

My complaint is not about the jury system per se, just what some try to squeeze out of it. As jurors, you can only sit and listen to it all. Which is frustrating as the lawyers work to spin the story to their respective advantages.

Despite the bad food, I'm happy enough to participate in the process. But I still would not like to have some situation involving me get so out of hand that a trial like this one would be necessary.

10:38 AM  

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