Riker's Mailbox

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Content Warning:

Okay, so I know I said I wasn't going to contribute anything worthwhile to the blog for some time now because I had all this rebuilding to do. I am not yet done with said rebuilding, yet here I am, ready to impart information. And dare I say it will be 'Content of Any DiscernAble Value to thE Reader' (first referred to in Post-Previous and with some creative capitalization and incorrect spelling, hereafter acronymized down to CADAVER). I'll just jump right in. Don't judge*.


While oft-noted as a bane to we, the Busier Than Anyone Else of modern society, jury duty is a vital aspect of our legal system that has always fascinated me. I secretly longed for the day that I would receive my summons and be called upon to take active part in determining the legal fate of another.

Now, this romantic desire of mine was based upon what I now feel was an outdated and naive impression of what jury duty was, namely: being in a jury. How wrong I was.

You see, I finally got my summons and I have been entered into the system. The emerald curtain has been drawn and I have seen the mechanisms at work in this legal hodgepodge. That I have survived it yields a new desire to spread the truth to all you who don't know. If you don't want to know the truth, DO NOT read the following line, for it will tell you exactly what jury duty has become -

Answering Machine Practice.

"Jury duty" entails the folowing:

  • Receive a document in the mail with the words 'JURY SUMMONS' in large print and a phone number buried in a sea of small print.
  • Call the number on the instructed date (weeks after you receive the summons).
  • Listen to the "entire message" - this was explicitly commanded at the beginning of the message.
  • The "entire message" is a very long way of saying, "If you've called today, please call back tomorrow after 5pm."
  • I'll let you get away with thinking this will only happen once; I did.
  • Call back the next day after 5pm. Listen to the new message.
  • The "new message" is the same as the last message, with the distinct difference that it now tells you to call back the next day.
  • After my second callback I came to the insight that this was answering machine practice.
  • After my fifth callback I realized, "You don't even get to leave a message! It's just Listening to Answering Machine Practice!"

I'd go on, but such recursion has no place in this blog. I'm here to warn you, not beat you to death with it.

That there are people out there who think we need answering machine practice, and that they are the same people who filter the innocent from the guilty, almost hurts my brain to think about.

I've used phones longer than I've had mastery of (or even an introduction to) the english language. Who hasn't been on the phone with a proud mother who loves to put her naturally incoherent infant on the line to share the babbling? We've all heard it. We at that age were likely to have been forced to do it by our parents. Some of us have done it with our (read: their) own children (implies: to me, grr.). What's my point? Phones are as natural to gens X and Y as are toilets, and toilets are as natural as butts in this part of the world. We understand phones already. We understand their associated technologies as easily. Even the complicated ones like automated customer service. We hate that one, but we certainly understand it.

I don't know how long Orange County is going to need my valuable services, and I don't know how they intend to compensate me. I just hope the poor guy, guilty or otherwise, got through this quirky little system and got what he deserves. And in the end, I'm glad I could be of help.

*If you found a cadaver in your house... go ahead, tell me you wouldn't show it to anyone.

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