Jury Duty = Arggh!

Well, sooner or later they’ll get ya. Whether it be through DMV records, driver’s license, voter registration…you will be summoned. To court. Yes, court, and here in Los Angeles, that’s tens of thousands of people every weekday. Disrupting their lives, driving often long distances to parts of town they would never, ever visit. 

I was summoned to the courthouse at 1945 Hill Street downtown. All around me, urban renewal, block after block of expensive condos going up, up, up. We all assemble dutifully in the juror room, a vast expanse we are told Brad Pitt just visited, as did Cardinal Mahoney, the apologist for child abusers. He shoulda been in the courtroom–on trial. But I digress. We are all in the Room of Many Magazines watching Oprah shamelessly suck up to Tom Cruise (while she continues to ignore Obama) and we all sit around with blank looks on our faces. Orientation is cool, as a commissioner comes in and she thanks us and gives us a brief overview of our judicial system. She compares it to the tribunal system sans juries that most of the world deals with, and finds in infinitely more just. I tend to agree, and am willing to do my part. 
We sit, and sit, and sit. I fall asleep, with sunglasses on, because I cannot stand the thought of anyone but a lover watching me sleep. Ewwww. 
And then, LUNCH!  Options, the usual suspects, and lots of suspects there are. McD’s. BK. El Pollo. on and on, and then they speak of a Mexican hole in the wall. I beeline for it. It’s Tijuana adjacent. Two tone walls of red and yellow, no one in sight save the mustachioed patron, who is the exact image of a caballero. I ask, you open? Sit down, and am handed a spanish menu, then a gringo version for the idiots who do not yet speak Spanish (yours truly included). I point to the only item this faux-neo vegetarian can handle, a green pepper stuffed with veggies and rice (rice bad, not brown) and hear him say “carne” something…alarm bells  go off, and sure enough here comes carne asada. I eat it. What can I do–insult the patron? My morals will have to wait for another day. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm it’s good. For meat. Real good. By now, senorita Maria has come it, and she is like out of a 40’s Ida Lupino flick. Hot. Mama’s in the kitchen cooking, and the place is well-worn and lovely. There is a big A in the window, so I am comforted. The jukebox suddenly blares really, really loudly (what is that about?) with Tejano jams and Freddy Fender. Patron takes out a takeout, and I sit and wait for the check…while reading the Advocate. Only in L.A. 
Back in the juror room, a group of 39 is called. Not me. Whew. It’s after 3, maybe I won’t be-
“OLDENKAMP” “HERE” and I trudge to the elevators, built with civic pride in American largesse in the fifties, and now a misbegotten relic of the collapsing American Dream. Of ten, five work, sort of. We cram twelve to a stall. The doors close, then open, the elevator doesn’t move. More crumbling infrastructure, the hallmark of decades of neglect. Don’t get me started. Finally, we line up in some odd columns and wait. Deputy comes out, GOOD NEWS! They settled. Back to the 8th floor. Did the tow merit-badged adorable boyscouts™ entering while we waited sway the judge or plaintiff? Hmmmm. 
4 pm hits, and no action. We seem safe. SURPRISE!  Back to a courtroom for swearing in and the judge is Italian and looks EXACTLY like a clone of Pacino and Fonzie. He has a weird voice that command you to listen in incredulity. He’s cool. We take the oath.
Back Monday. Trials here are usually a week long. Stay tuned with bated breath. I myself will be looking forward to…the elevators and El Sombrero.

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