I got the new computer about noon Tuesday. The process of simply transferring my data took the entire rest of the day. In fact, I didn't actually finish. I left the two laptops at the office overnight, copying data from the old one to the new one across the network. I thought I'd get back to the process first thing Wednesday morning and start actually installing some programs.
One thing I forgot to mention when I was making excuses for not blogging much this week was this: I'm on standby for jury duty. So, naturally, I got notification that I needed to be at the courthouse Wednesday morning. So much for installing software. (See Monday's post for a reminder of the principle at work here.)
I hate jury duty. The process is unbearably demeaning and inefficient. You're herded into a large waiting room with some 200 people where an obnoxious woman yells the same instructions she has been yelling at people every day of her life for years. There's a portable public address system at her podium, but she doesn't use it. She seems to like screaming at people. After all, her life is like "Groundhog Day." She's done this same morning briefing so many times that her delivery is a cynical sing-song. I've heard the same speech from the same woman with all the same "jokes" every time I've gone for jury duty for the past four years.
I have never been seated on a jury. I probably never will be. Attorneys don't want strongly opinionated people on juries.
But today was something special. I knew it would be when I walked in and the first thing I saw floating in the juror pool was a barely-post-puberty angry-goth-type guy with thick, dark tattoos all over his arms, a massive bent-barbell-shaped piercing-rod through his septum, and a wrinkled black t-shirt reading "Satan is my Homeboy." I don't think this was a ploy to keep from being seated as a juror. He looked like he meant it.
Anyway, I'll spare you the long account. After all the interminable preliminary lectures and forms to be filled out, they herded all 200 of us into a single courtroom built for 50, where a harsh-voiced, angry-looking, much-too-masculine woman presides as judge. She informed us that they are beginning the voir dire process for a major multiple murder trial that will probably last a minimum of seven weeks. My heart sunk. She thought that might be a hardship for some of us, so they had forms to be filled out for people requesting hardship exemptions. She sternly cautioned us that in only a few instances would she consider anyone's circumstances a real hardship, but fortunately for me, one of the "real" hardships she listed was for those who have a vacation booked with non-refundable tickets.
Darlene and I are going to be spending some days in Tulsa with my parents in a few weeks, so I asked for one of the forms to request the hardship exemptions. Then at the lunch break, I phoned Darlene to make sure the tickets were non-refundable. The judge said she wanted flight numbers and departure time, so Darlene got me all that information, and I wrote it with the maximum possible detail and pathos on the form supplied.
So did 90 percent of the potential jurors. No surprise there. Frankly, it's hard to see how a 7-week trial would not be a serious hardship for anyone who lives in the real world, but the judge didn't see it that way. Before even reading the forms to see what our actual hardships were, she chided the whole group because so many of us wanted to be excused. She took the opportunity to deliver an angry lecture about the cost of citizenship. Frankly, I think most in the jury pool were more concerned about the cost of rent and groceries after being out of work for seven weeks, but there you are.
Satan's homeboy was not one of the people who requested a hardship exemption. The $15 per diem may be more money than he has ever earned in his life.
What a mess the American court system is! I get called for jury duty virtually every 12 months. I'm not alone. Almost everyone in our office gets called regularly, too. There's hardly a week in the year when we don't have someone in the office on standby for jury duty.
At the end of the day, they excused me with about a hundred other hardship cases. On the way out, the woman who screams instructions at potential jurors told me, "See you in twelve months."
I can't wait.