Welcome to our regular Saturday feature “What Aggravates Me” by Comedian John Knight
This column was intended to be about my service on jury duty. It’s still going to be but not the way I planned. Most of you have never gotten the dreadful summons in the mail. For me this was my second time in four years. At the end of my first service, a judge came into the room and thanked us. Then before he released us he said that we had served our time and it would probably be at least ten years before we were summoned again. He then added that most of us would never get called in the future. Lying bastard, I hope his robe gives him a rash on his ass.
The summons tells you to arrive by eight-thirty in the morning. I remember the last time getting stuck in ungodly traffic trying to get through the Fort Pitt tunnels. What should be a twenty five minute drive into the city took almost an hour and a half. I didn’t know the procedure at the time and thought I might get fined if I wasn’t on time.
I got there ten minutes late and then sat there while other people straggled in. Some people didn’t get there until almost ten o’clock and I felt like an idiot for worrying. Then I sat there most of the day waiting to get called for an interview. It was a long day waiting to get out of serving on a jury.
Being self-employed and traveling to shows makes it almost impossible for me to sit on a trial that lasts more than one day. In fact I had to postpone three times because I would be out of town. I was hoping they would forget about me but they kept sending a summons. It was every other month until I finally showed up.
I know there are companies out there that will pay employees while they serve. Some for long trials. Let me just say that if spending three weeks on jury duty sounds better than going to your job, you might want to start sending out resumes.
Anyway, Thursday morning I was watching the news and they said there was an accident on the Parkway west heading into the tunnel. Traffic was down to one lane and moving slower than normal. That means not at all. I wasn’t planning on going that way, I learned my lesson the last time, but figured it gave me an excuse.
The traffic was heavy on 65, probably because everyone knew to avoid the Parkway. It looked like I was going to be late again, but I didn’t panic this time. I’m a seasoned jury veteran after all. I got to the court house at eight-forty but still had to find a place to park. There’s a lot right across the street but the rates were unbelievable. Eight dollars for the first twenty minutes, twenty dollars for the first hour. I was going to be there all day. The rate for all day was too tiny to see, I’m guessing on purpose. It looked like there was a third digit in the price. I decided to look elsewhere.
My summons told me about a garage that gave discounts to jurors. I tried to get to it, but the road was blocked for construction. Wow, construction in Pittsburgh. You never see that unless you leave your house. I went around the block and parked in the expensive lot. Somebody wouldn’t be getting a present this Christmas. I figured I could just give them a picture of my parking spot with the receipt. It’s the thought that counts after all.
I went to the courthouse like I did the last time and passed through security. I was supposed go to room 700 on the seventh floor. The elevator only went to five. I was in the wrong building. Jury duty was now in the City County building next door. I should have looked closer at the summons but hey, I’ve done this before.
When I entered the room it was ten after nine. I handed my summons to the clerk and he asked,
“Sir, where are you coming from?”
“Well, I was next door in the Court House, found out it was the wrong place and…”
“No sir, where are you coming from?”
“When I got to this building I had to use the restroom and…”
“No sir, where are you coming from?”
“What? Do you mean where I started from?”
“Any reason you’re so late?”
“Traffic was really bad.”
I could’ve added that I really wasn’t in a big hurry to get here but he didn’t need to know.
That’s when he informed me I was too late and wouldn’t be able to serve. I would have to come another day. I had missed the announcements and the oath. The other people were filling out the forms that you answer in a way to get you out of serving. I said,
“What’s the difference, I’ve done this before. I’m here now, let me stay.”
“But, you missed the oath.”
“What, are you worrying I might lie on my jury form like these other people are doing? The whole judicial system is based on lying. The side that tells the best lies wins.”
Apparently that wasn’t good enough for him.
“You’ll have to come back another day.”
“Anyway I can just get out of this?”
He just shook his head no and didn’t look too pleased at the question. Can’t blame me for trying though. So now I have to go through this once again. I’m counting this as my third time. If you’re planning to commit a crime in the next month or so you may want to think twice. Chances are you’ll be facing a pissed off juror looking to hang somebody.
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