Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

It's official -- I'm a rabblerouser.

I got kicked out of court this morning. Why? Because I just cannot keep my mouth shut, that's why.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was summoned for [blank blank]. (I swear I am not kidding -- the summons said I couldn't say I was gonna be serving, so I'm trying not to say it, but I hope you all know what I mean.) And I never actually served on a [blank] before, because the last time I was impaneled, I got kicked out because my mother-in-law has worked in the insurance industry for thirty years and they weren't sure I could be impartial.

Smart them.

Anyway, I showed up early this morning, just *sure* that this time I was going to perform my civic duty and finally serve on a [blank]. And I was, indeed, in the [blank] box for whatever they call it when the lawyers try to weed out the smart people.

Let me go off on a bunny trail. Comics often talk about how trials are heard by people who aren't smart enough to get out of [blank blank], and I always thought that was a terrible thing to say. They made it sound like smart people *want* to get out of [blank blank]. And maybe some smart people do. But from my last two experiences in this particular arena of civic responsibility, what I've found is that, really, it's the lawyers who don't want smart people in the [blank]. They want blank minds in the [blank] that can be filled with nonsense.

That's *so* not me.

So, anyway -- I know I'm drawing this out too long, but it was quite a morning, let me tell you -- I sat in the [blank] box for about ... forty minutes. The lawyer for the plaintiff introduced himself and explained he was from out of town. He was very well-spoken. And slick. And I didn't really like him a lot, but Wesley was just telling me about *his* last experience in the [blank] box and how much he HATED one lawyer, and I was just determined not to hate this guy. I wanted to be fair and impartial. But as the plaintiff's lawyer asked more and more questions, he also revealed more of the case at hand.

'Scuse me. I'm gonna be *real* Southern and suck my teeth for a second. *Smack* OK, I feel much better.

The plaintiff was an idiot -- er, I mean, *man* -- who was suing the defendant for damages caused when the idiot -- er, I mean *plaintiff* -- tripped on the defendant's property and twisted his ankle.

And the idiot's wife -- er, I mean, the wife -- was *also* suing the defendant for "loss of companionship" due to the same twisted ankle.

I. Am. Not. Kidding.

Now, there was some other rigamarole involved -- business, manufacturing atmosphere, forklifts that SNUCK UP on the idiot, er, I mean, plaintiff, and a really sore ankle, dagnabbit. Not to mention that poor wife who lost her companionable husband for goodness knows how long. I guess they were in Walmart and he couldn't keep up because he was hobbling along and she just *lost* him. I don't know. I cannot figure out how a twisted ankle would cause her to lose a companion.

So a bunch of potential [blankors] answered lots of questions, saying yes, they were familiar with forklifts, and yes, they had worked in manufacturing plants, and no, nobody knew the lawyers or any of the parties in the trial, and so on and so forth, and I sat there clenching my teeth and digging my fingernails into my hands and trying *desperately* not to roll my eyes or snort audibly.

*Finally*, I guess I lost control and either I sighed or gasped incredulously or *something*, because all of a sudden the plaintiff's slick lawyer was asking me -- JUST ME -- how I felt about all this. And I tried *so* hard not to tell him. I did. I really did. I tried not to say, "You're a carpetbagger, and your clients are greedy, scumsucking idiots, and I honestly have no idea how you sleep at night."

You'll be very proud of me to learn that I did *not* in fact call anyone any names.

I'm proud of me, too.

I *did* however go off on a complete tirade. See, there's something you may not know about me. I didn't even realize it about myself for years, and then my boss at the hellish ad agency pointed it out. When I get mad, my vocabulary gets bigger. It bemuses people to no end. Most people apparently *lose* the ability to speak eloquently when they're angry. My husband marvels at my talent and often encourages me to take care of problems that involve intimidating someone who deserves it. I, therefore, haven't used this particular gift in a while. Except on my kids. And hey, man, they need the vocabulary lessons, anyway.

So when the slick plaintiff's lawyer asked me what I *felt* about lawsuits in general and this lawsuit in particular, I launched a certified Bay rant about how we live in a ridiculously litigious society and that I'm not at all convinced that greedy people haven't completely extirpated our civil court system for people with actual grievances against actual villains. At some point the lawyer asked me if I could distinguish the difference between "a little wrong" and "a big wrong," and that's when I pulled out the big guns. I'm pretty sure I used the words "tantamount" and "egregious."

I'm absolutely sure I alluded to the Triangle Fire of 1911.

This is what happens when you let a history major loose in a courtroom and give her the floor.

I could hear the words coming out of my mouth, and I could not stop them, and a piece of me was looking at the slick lawyer, the judge, the clerks, and the plaintiffs. I could not bring myself to look at the other [blankors] or the defendant and her lawyer. I just couldn't. The plaintiff's lawyer, to his credit, was not turning purple or anything. The judge's eyebrows disappeared into his hairline when I said "Triangle Fire." (But he handled "extirpated" with aplomb.)

Another bunny trail -- all over my county, people are running for their encyclopaediae, history books, and Internet search engines in an effort to find out what the dickens the Triangle Fire was.

Now the way things work here is that both of the lawyers ask all the 18 people in the [blank] box all the questions they want. And then they hand over nice, anonymous notes to the judge, who then excuses anyone that either lawyer wants to dismiss. That's the way it worked the last time I did this, and that was probably supposed to be the way it worked this time.

But it didn't work that way today. Oh, no. Not for the crazy lady talking geometry and tanta-mountains, whatever those are. Nope, the plaintiff's lawyer waited until I finally shut my flapping yaw, and he said to the judge, "Your Honor?"

Whereupon the judge said, "Eeeyyyyyyyeahhhhhhhh, Mrs. Loftis, you are excused from this [blank]. You can take a seat in the courtroom."

He was really nice about it. But I was so badly behaved that they didn't even wait to pass around the gossipy little notes and do it anonymously. They kicked me out *immediately*. I can only hold my head up because I wasn't escorted from the courthouse by the armed bailiff.

It took another twenty minutes to go through two rounds of the polite note-passing, and when they finally had a [blank], all the rest of us were excused.

As we were leaving the courthouse en masse, I said to the other excused people, "Well, I know why I got kicked, but I can't figure out what's wrong with the rest of you."

And some guy said, "I think I got the boot because I was applauding YOU." A couple of other people said they were *so glad* I said what they were thinking. No one asked me what the heck the Triangle Fire was, so maybe I wasn't the only history geek.

I feel a little better. A little. I'm still embarrassed, though. I *should* be able to be fair and impartial. Civil courts serve a valid purpose -- or they did at one time. And it would've been nice to hear how on earth that woman lost companionship because of a twisted ankle.

But c'mon -- how can *anyone* take this stuff seriously with the spectre of the Triangle Fire hanging over them while hearing a full-grown man complain about his *foot*?

13 Comments:

At 29/6/05 1:13 AM, Blogger Amy said...

You know, although I am a lowly math major, I usually at least try to put together some words in an attempt to express my sheer admiration for you, Bay. My vocabulary, however, frequently fails me. Therefore, I shall express myself thusly:

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEEEEEEEEEEEEHAAAAWWWW!!!!!!!! Go, Bay! Go, Bay! Go, Bay!!!!!!!!!

You rock.

 
At 29/6/05 4:01 AM, Blogger Marjorie said...

I agree totally with Amy...way to go!!! You gave me my laugh for the next month or so!

 
At 29/6/05 10:17 AM, Anonymous Leslie said...

Lowly (former) geography major here (and one who loses her "big words" in the heat of an argument . . . )

You GO, Girl!! That's fabulous!! You should NOT be embarrassed!! I'm sure they booted you immediately because they realized they were no match for you!! LOL!! Yee Haw! I bow down to you!!

 
At 29/6/05 11:12 AM, Anonymous Becky said...

Lowly psychology major here....and I am also one who loses my vocabulary in an argument. So I'll just add to Amy's WOO WOO!! and throw in a YEA BAYBEE!! for good measure. ;)

Good for you for being honest. Being impartial does not mean you leave your integrity and honesty at the door. At least, it shouldn't.

Oh and if I sued for every time I've twisted my ankle in the last 34 years, I'd be a rich, rich woman. Either that or an idiot. Or maybe both. ;)

 
At 29/6/05 2:40 PM, Blogger Kathleen Summers said...

Dear woman, thank you for posting a link to your blog entry today. Absolute genius. I bow humbly.

 
At 29/6/05 4:41 PM, Blogger pr31wb said...

Waahhh-ha-ha-ha-ha! Sorry, but couldn't help bursting out in laughter. You are such a talented storyteller, and I can just picture the faces in the courtroom as you unleashed the Triangle Fire comparison on them (which, incidently, is one of the interesting things I actually remember from hs history). Great entry!

 
At 29/6/05 8:24 PM, Anonymous Lisa said...

You are absolutely one of the most hilarious diarists I've read on the internet or anywhere else for that matter. Erma Bombeck has nothing on you, Bay.

Extirpated, indeed.

 
At 29/6/05 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bay, you have me ROFL! I am a district court judge, and the only [blank]trials I conduct are small civil matters. I honestly don't know what I'd do if you showed up in one of my [blank] pools! I'm certain I would have been crawling under the bench to make my cackling less audible...or maybe feigning a cough attack to mask my mirth, so you probably would have skated out of my courtroom without incident. I am happy to hear that you are not posting from a jail cell, as most judges are not as good-humored as I!

Thanks for the laugh! You made my night!

Judge Lisa

 
At 29/6/05 11:40 PM, Anonymous Kathy M said...

Girlfriend, you have me rolling on the floor in laughter...I knew you had a way with words, but who knew you're Julia Sugarbaker incarnate? I LOVE reading your writing!!!

 
At 29/6/05 11:48 PM, Anonymous lisa said...

bay.. i am SO dying here.

you rock.

 
At 30/6/05 6:14 AM, Blogger griffsmom said...

OH Baynyou made my day lighter Thanks

 
At 30/6/05 12:31 PM, Blogger Thena said...

Way to go!!! Hey! Hey! What can I say...Way to go! Way to go Bay!!

I was with a group where one person got kicked off for answering to the definition of Defense attorney and Prosecution attorney as :
Yessir: The Defense proves guilty people innocent and the Prosection
proves innocent people guilty.

 
At 27/9/05 10:02 AM, Blogger Gwyn said...

Oh Bay, I missed this the first time around when I was sojourning throughout Europe with a gaggle of American teenagers, dreaming of becoming an expatriate someday and sipping cheap wine with great olives!

So....I am so very pleased and delighted that this is linked on your main page, and I will now head off to peruse the entry regarding the Triangle Fire,of which even the historian husband is not aware!

ROTFLOL

 

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