The professor and jury duty blues
"Group 28, 29 and 30 need to meet at the courthouse downtown at 8 am." This is the robotic voice of bureaucracy. "Who wakes up at 8 in the summer, man?!" I wait for an answer from the court-system cyborg, but I receive nothing. "The court building can be found downtown…" "Your mom can be found downtown!" Game, set, match, cyborg owned.
As I slam the phone down, I can't help but be enraged. The court system, as a whole, is corrupted like a sugar saturated tooth – uncovered holes everywhere. A person sits on trial and their innocence is judged and weighed by a group of "their peers."
Out of the thirty-or-so people sitting around the jury waiting room, I chuckled at the fact that almost everyone in the room was white and from a middle-class background. Unless we were going to be trying a bunch of accountants, I wasn't quite sure that this was the right group to weigh the innocence of another human. The group of people in this room are not a true cross-section of our country.
Where's the junkies? The bums? The authors? The movie stars? Where is my United States of America? I wouldn't want any of these people deciding my fate. Give me a jury of sinners any day of the week. Part of me wants to relax and enjoy the ride. I got out of grad school for the day and the odds are I won't know a person in the room. If I don't know anyone, it's going to be hard for anyone to bother me.
I look around the room to see if anyone is taking advantage of their paid vacation ($25 a day – no big deal.) There's a young guy incessantly hitting on a young girl he seems to know. He's a very good little future business man. He has on nice shoes and slacks and a tie and his hair is just right. He's absolutely precious. I want to buy one for my wife so he can talk to her at dinner about adult things.
He'd probably be excited about putting a pre-planned amount of each pay check in a savings account so he can get his portfolio ready for discussions around the Christmas tree. I want to talk to him. I want to tell him that when the apocalypse of debt comes around and we go into a second depression, he's pretty much fucked, because there's no way that he can survive off of his hands and wits alone.
But I have limits to my insanity. I move my glance on to someone else for entertainment. I catch a glimpse of a big gal who is wearing a brand new, bright green, John Deere shirt. I can see from her face that at one time, maybe high school or college, this gal was a stunner, but these days her John Deere looks more like a Dear John sweatshirt. She's slamming coffee and seems nervous. It might have something to do with the stoned guy in Elvis shades staring at her from across the room judging her and ignoring his own belly issues. "You need a game plan," a voice in my gut says. That's the voice I like to listen to, because he is always prepared. "I need a game plan." What exactly do you say to ensure that you're not a part of a process that you feel is corrupt?
I start to imagine all of the possible questions that might come to me in the courtroom as lawyers and a judge try to evaluate my worthiness as a potential juror. I know my goal. My goal is to seem as opinionated as possible on any given subject. You don't want strongly opinionated people on a jury, I deduce. You want people who can look at a subject objectively. I'm fairly certain I lack that ability altogether. I practice some of the questions they might ask, and the answers I will retort with. *** Possible questions and answers:
Q: "Mr. Curiously, have you ever been convicted of a crime?"
A: "Not enough crimes. I have been convicted of numerous misdemeanors, but I have a lawyer so I got that nonsense expunged. Good thing I'm not a poor black man in this system." Smile big, pretend that this is a normal response for you.
Q: "Mr. Curiously, do you know anyone involved in today's trial."
A: "Why yes I do. I noticed the State of Alaska is involved in this case. My feelings on the issue are that any crime against the state is probably a worthwhile crime. How can anyone be convicted of a crime when the victim is begging to be taken advantage of?"
Q: "Mr. Curiously, do you have any reason that you shouldn't be part of the jury today?"
A: "Possibly. I will rarely find a person guilty of any crime if they haven't harmed someone else. My job is not to hold my fellow mankind accountable. I view my job as holding those who hold others accountable, accountable. If you want to put a judge or lawyer on trial, I belong in that jury group. If you want to bother a poor person who steals to provide for his/her family, then I don't belong here."
*** Two hours. Two hours I waited for my moment to let The Man know I'm watching and assessing. Two hours to plan an attack, to ready for battle. I was mentally prepared to stand toe-to-toe with any lawyer or any judge. They could be genius orators, speaking in a caliber that would melt the minds of most listeners. It didn't matter. The Man was coming and I was prepared. In walks The Man, Judge Somethingorother. He looks really nice and understanding, and I almost lose myself in his guise.
My soul catches me however and reminds me that behind that devilish grin is the enemy who is "just doing his job." Big smile. A nod. The Man looks around the room and clears his throat. I already know what he's ready to say. "Mr. Curiously, you have been selected as our only juror. We are going to bore you to death because of your tenacity." "Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize profusely for wasting your time this morning. What happened was…at the last moment there was a change of plea. I try to discourage lawyers from changing plea at the last moment, but it's going to happen no matter what. You're free to go. On behalf of The State, I apologize profusely." I wait for the speech to continue, but it's over. The Man won again. When they call me back in I'll be too tired, too stoned (or both) to ready myself. I never win against The Man, but I will. I'll beat the whole system. Wait and see.