holy shit knuckles

I’m not sure what that title means. It’s the only thing I can think of that encapsulates this day of mine.

First, I reported for jury duty a little before 8AM. I usually roll into work “around” 9AM, so I had an earlier start than usual. I planned ahead and brought my laptop with me, expecting the usual jury duty experience of hanging out in the big room waiting for my number to be called and eventually being dismissed right around lunch time.

Not today, my friend. I was in the second group called. 65 of us were taken over to the courthouse to experience the singular joy of voir dire with our “peers” in Harris County. You know how I’ve bitched about the anonymous commenters on every story on the Houston Chronicle’s website? How I’ve said that they aren’t representative of the city as a whole? Okay, I still believe that, but I also believe that about 20 of them were in the group I was in today. The vileness that some of these people spewed – hatred for illegal immigrants and anyone who doesn’t speak English, self-righteous anger about situations they don’t totally grasp but have no trouble passing judgment on… I’m sure some of them just wanted to get out of jury duty, but some of these people are carrying some stone cold, impotent rage around with them.

A couple of times, I said – out loud, “Well that guy’s obviously trying to get out of jury duty.” A couple of people chuckled and a couple others hissed. I think they thought I was a witch. At one point, the most vile of the viles was explaining why he judges people purely based on how they look/dress/talk – he explained that his day job is “observing people,” so he is very astute at determining who someone is just by their outward appearance. I said sort of under my breath to the guy next to me, “Yeah, his day job is being a serial killer,” which, if you could see this guy, totally fits and was a funny thing to say. The guy next to me didn’t understand a word I said and asked me to repeat. I was already worried I’d get in trouble for talking – you know in voir dire they love to make you talk – so I just shut up after that. No point in under breath muttering if there’s no one to appreciate it.

As the questions, and the vileness, wore on, I began to really hope that I was chosen just to up the defendant’s chance at having at least one sane person who was willing to listen to the case and make a non-judgmental judgment. And so it was. Once it’s all over, I’ll talk a bit more about the experience of sitting on a jury. Since it’s my second time, I think I’ve effectively broken the generations-long run my family has had of never being chosen for a jury. Lucky me? Maybe. It’s a lot more interesting than what I usually do during the day. Speaking of – I put the fact that I work for PBS on my juror form. And I was still chosen.

Second, I got home from a long day at the courthouse to find the proof for my first publication sitting in my inbox. I’ve signed off on it, so Please Remove This Stuffed Animal From My Head is coming in book form. As soon as it’s posted online, I’ll share the link in case you’re in the market for a short play to read (the purchase of which kicks a little money back your friend Crystal’s direction).