San Francisco Jury Duty is like the quarantine wing of Ellis Island, circa 1904, only smellier and with more immigrants. I arrived yesterday morning at 9am, only to wait in line to have my bag searched along with the criminals and hobos, many of whom seemed delighted to stand for hours and discuss the news of the day. Apparently, there was an early morning “security breach” in the stairwell of the Hall of Justice and everyone was forced to use the elevators. Consequently, after standing in line to be physically and emotionally violated by the fuzz, one then had to stand in line to get shoved in an elevator like cattle, rubbing up against people sweating in nervous anticipation of their court date.
I checked into the Jury Room, and claimed a seat in between an elderly Asian woman in an unending quest to clear her throat and a middle aged gay gentleman sporting an unfortunate toupee. I scrunched down and opened my book, pretending to read while surveying the freak show before me.
The number of grown men proudly donning Mickey Mouse apparel is appalling. I literally saw four or five guys parading around in a sartorial allegiance to a has-been cartoon character, one of whom must have spent a fortune on his leather “Club Mickey” jacket.
The Jury Room, the famous 307, is completely decked out in patriotic paper products, leftovers from the 4th of July bargain bin at Wallgreens ands clearly intended to instill some kind of sudden enthusiasm for the democratic process. It didn’t work. Nor did the instructional video, proclaiming California the greatest state in the union and filling us in on how justice works, entertain a single soul. I was most likely the only one paying attention, and that was solely for mocking purposes. Finally, “Bentos” starts reading names alphabetically from a list and as he made it to “T”, I thought I was off the hook.
No such luck.
He returned with a new list, one I was now on, and instructed us to the 2nd floor. Oh and by the way, you’ve all got to use the elevator because there’s been a security breach and the stairway is vulnerable to terrorists or something.
Yeah, Bentos. We know.
We piled in the courtroom, strangers next to strangers, eyes meeting eyes and rolling in unison as we took some oath. I paid no attention to the oath. I merely said “I do” and prayed for dismissal.
Turns out, I’ve been called for an 8 week criminal trial. Now, under normal circumstances, I’m in, as I regard something like this as the real life equivalent to staying home all day and watching Law and Order. However, I’ve got this job I want to keep and fresh air I’d like to breathe and an aversion towards the hundred or so people surrounding me. I wanted out. And I wanted out fast. Screw the judicial process. There’s crappy coffee and no place to check my e-mail. I’m out of here.
There’s an old saying that juries are made up exclusively of stupid people because they’re a collection of idiots who were too dumb to get out of jury duty. I’m delighted to report that not only do I own nary a Disney themed piece of apparel, nor does anyone I know, but I am officially not one of those idiots…