SVU Fantasies and Hostel Nightmares

So you want to know what happens when you get summoned to U.S. District Court FEDERAL Jury Duty? Oh, no? Well, I’m gonna tell you anyway. Believe me, I wish I could tell you all the things about actually serving because I’d go all SVU on you. But I can’t. So you get this instead.

First what happens is, you call in the night before like any other jury duty. And then OF COURSE you have to appear, because you ALWAYS have to appear. So you call your boss and break the bad news. And then you call your manager, too. And you hear shit about leaving her all alone with incompetent people at work. And then you wake up at 5:30am and are out the door by 6:00am and still just barely get to LA to the courthouse (because federal court means you don’t get to go to your local courthouse) when you’re supposed to check in at 7:45am. So that means you don’t get to eat any breakfast. Oh, and you also didn’t have any coffee.

So then you get there and you sit through an hour of orientation and they start calling groups of people to go into court rooms. But your name doesn’t get called, because you never get called within a reasonable amount of time. So you sit and wait. And those people that were sitting all around you that got called like the stupid little people they are have now returned because they weren’t chosen. And it’s now been 4 hours and your name hasn’t been called.

And then it gets called with the largest group of potential jurors ever (40+) but the judge isn’t ready for jury selection yet so they tell you to go sit back down. And then you wait another hour and by now it’s lunch time but the court is ready so you have to answer the judge’s call. So the 40+ of you go down to the courtroom and jury selection begins. And because there’s FREAKING FOURTY of you, jury selection takes 3 hours. So by now it’s 3:30 pm and you haven’t eaten all day.

And then you get chosen, but you’re an alternate. So you have to sit through the whole trial, but you don’t get to have a say in the decision at all. And then the judge tells you to be back at 9:00am the next day. And then you realize that you’re going to have to drive 2 hours each way, every day until this thing is over. And you start to panic. So you ask for a comped hotel, but the rule is that you have to live more than 80 miles away from court, and map quest says you live 78 miles away. So you have to ask the judge to waive the rule for you. But you can’t actually TALK to the judge, so you have to talk to the clerk, who has to talk to the judge, who has to come back to you and tell you that the judge waived the rule, but they still have to clear it with the jury department. So you still have to drive all the way home and all the way back in the morning before you can stay in a hotel and be sure that it’s comped.

Only, they don’t comp hotels, they require you to pay for them and they reimburse you. Except you don’t have any money in you account. So you have to get an advance. And then you go to book a hotel from the comfort of your bed, only to realize that ALL THE CONVENTIONS are in town and the rooms are booked. So you find the first reasonably priced room that claims to have free parking, wi-fi, and a bed and you book it. But then you get to the hotel, and realize it’s more of a hostel. There are communal showers and toilets. So if you want to take a shower you basically have to lock yourself in a closet and hopefully you brought shower shoes because it’s probably as dirty as the public showers at Santa Monica beach. Oh, and the blanket on the bed is FULL of holes. And there’s no sink in the “closet” with the public toilet. The room smells terrible, and the whole thing is about the size of a king-sized bed. It also has a doorknob lock (the room key is an actual key, not a card), a deadbolt lock, and TWO of those little slidey hotel-lock things. That doesn’t make you feel more safe. That makes you feel like it’s likely someone will try to break into your room.

So you walk 12 blocks trying to find any hotel that’s willing to give you a better place to stay. But everyone’s booked solid (if you don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars, of course). Just when you’re about to give up, you call a hotel that told you they were booked yesterday. They have a room for you AND there’s a bathroom in it too.

But then you have to worry about canceling the “room” you already have booked. So you go to the front desk, and you talk to them. But of course, they can’t help you because you booked through an outside website. So you deal with the automated customer service center and you finally talk to a real person and you get put on hold for a billion minutes only for them to tell you to call them back in 15 minutes. So you talk to the front desk again and they tell you they talked to the lady you were talking to with customer service and they have to conform you didn’t actually USE the room (because who would?) before they can refund your money. So they confirm that and they check you out and you call customer service back (twice, because the first time didn’t work) to confirm the refund. And they actually refund you.

And then you finally get to the new hotel and you now have to pay $20.00 in parking for the day but it’s almost worth it because THIS ROOM IS TEN BILLIONTY TIMES BETTER even though it’s a pretty standard room. But it has a shower, and an air conditioner, and a desk, and a TV, and a fridge and a working sink and a microwave and a BLANKET WITHOUT HOLES and and and.

The moral of this story is that I got to serve on a jury, and I got a ton of exercise, and I got to (eventually) sleep in a reasonably safe and habitable building. Sometimes you have to work for your happy ending, I guess.

Honestly, I have never been called for Jury Duty before and I have super fantasies about Mariska Hargitay bursting into the courtroom with THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF EVIDENCE EVER. Or something. So I genuinely wanted to serve, I just want everything in life to be handled for me and to be paid on the spot. And to not have to drive 160 miles in a day. 

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