There’s a reason I’ve been absent a while. It took a couple of weeks for me to get over the depression of not having been chosen for the winter Olympic curling team again. Mostly I just stayed in bed wearing my pajamas and ice skates, making occasional trips to the fridge to check out my ice cube collection. If there’s one thing I know I do well, it’s making the perfect ice cube. A man needs something he can be proud of.
But then something wonderful happened. I got selected. My self-worth was restored. I was picked for jury duty.
Sure, there was no opening ceremony for the trial. There was no parade of jurors marching behind the flag of Sonoma County. There was no special skin-tight uniform that would help me reach a speedy verdict and it’s probable I would have been arrested if I had run through the Hall of Justice with a torch (at least I wouldn’t have to go far for my trial.)
For some reason our government deemed me wise enough to determine if another human was guilty of felony drunk-driving, violating 47 traffic rules, and then slamming their car into a truck at midnight. I can understand their logic. First, I haven’t driven in 40+ years. Second I can’t see much of anything, so if they were looking for blind justice, I was their man. Third, I’ve never been drunk. (Please disregard the picture of me holding a scotch and a cigar on the opening day of this blog and all the other references to how drunk I might have been at one point or another.)
So day-after-day for two weeks I showed up, just like I had a job. Although we had no official uniforms, a strict dress code was enforced. It required that I not wear a hat in the courtroom and that I not wear a tank top. After the first day I ran home and discarded all my tank tops and put my hats in the closet so I wouldn’t be tempted. Additionally I had to pass through security every time I went in. This required me to remove my belt and then put it on about four or five times every day. By the fourth day I switched to wearing my big-boy pull-ups because they were so much more convenient. I figured if I could get through security faster I could arrive at a speedier verdict. I was going to wear my regular pants without a belt but the pants kept falling down. Sure there may be hanging judges, but you aren’t allowed to be a hanging juror. Although keeping your pants up wasn’t explicitly stated as a rule for court conduct I figured I’d play it safe.
Ultimately, I would describe the courthouse like this: It’s a lot like going to the DMV only it has more tattoos and people are even more sad to be there.
I won’t go into every detail of the exciting trial, but here a few of the highlights.
- Nobody jumped up from the gallery and confessed to the crime like they do in Perry Mason.
- I savored the five hours we spent listening to the expert testimony of the crime lab scientist who was able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that if you drink alcohol, it will impair your driving. Who knew?
- Breathalyzer tests are very good and accurate unless the person being tested throws up during the test or has reflux. We know this because the defense flew in an expert physiologist who specializes in GERD, vomiting, and alcohol. Nice job… and he makes big bucks.
- It is important to refer to the place where the trial is held as the “courtroom”, not the “playing field.” Also you shouldn’t refer to the judge’s chambers as the locker room or the stables. I can’t reveal how I learned this.
But by far, the best moment came, after two weeks of testimony when we were rushed off to the jury room to digest all this information, review the video of the arrest, and make a fair judgment. After we had been talking for about three hours one of the jurors dropped the fact that he’d also been stopped for drunk driving twice by the arresting officer in this case. Keep in mind that the arresting officer had been sitting at the prosecutor’s table for the entire two weeks of the trial and had spent four days on the witness stand (note: do not call it the “joy seat”) prior to this. It had never occurred to this juror that they might want to mention this to the judge.
So we stopped deliberating and I sent a note to the judge via the bailiff. About 20 minutes later the juror gets summoned to see the judge. He returns 20 minutes after that and picks up his stuff. Now comes the good part. They have to call the alternate who had sat through the whole jury and thought he was home scot-free. We have to wait until this happy citizen gets his deciding ass back to our jury room and we get to start all over. We can’t fill him in on what we’ve been doing…. We have to start the whole deliberation over again.
Now I’m back at home again, to the calm of the bathroom remodel continuing at our house. Everyday a new crew shows up (today it was the wall mud guys). But I like to keep a positive spin on it. I really can’t complain since this is all self-inflicted chaos. So instead I pretend that every day when a new subcontractor group arrives, I’m getting to make new friends (this may be one of the only unexplored benefits of getting Alzheimer too.) I don’t know about you but I have found pretending that things are different in life than others define them (they call it reality) is a helpful tool for keeping a sunny disposition. Another example happens when I use my ATM machine. Most people are bummed that they have to take out cash and turn it over to someone else. But my strategy is to pretend I’m playing a slot machine. I punch the buttons and then money comes out! I won! So I always do a little victory dance and pump my fist, and go “Yes!” If I’m having an especially crappy day I’ll go over and instead of pulling out $60 at once, I’ll take out $20 three times in a row and let out a whoop after the last one. Then I’m up for the whole day.
There is one major downside to refurbishing your bathrooms. We insisted that they leave us one toilet throughout the remodel. The problem is these guys are all working in the room where that is. So the Fabulous Miss K has been taking to running over to Safeway for their facilities. Fortunately several years ago we joined Club Safeway and they gave us a red card. Who knew it would have so many benefits. Besides now instead of shopping, or whatever, we just say we’re going down to the club for a meeting.