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Jury Duty

Several weeks ago I received a very official looking piece of mail from the county small claims court. Holy Cow! Now who am I in trouble with! No, wait, I’m not in trouble. I haven’t done anything so that makes me innocent. Then I remembered that being innocent doesn’t matter. OK, open it up and find out. It was a jury summons.

That’s better. Someone else was in trouble. Me being on the jury insured that. No one in their right mind would want me to sit in judgment of anything. But, there it was. Report or else. Oh boy, I get to do something different and perform my civic duty at the same time.

I looked at the address and it didn’t seem right. The address was for Morrison Drive. The courthouse wasn’t on Morrison Drive. This place was in a bad neighborhood. Probably so everyone could walk to court. When I got there I felt that this might be the last time I saw the van. The place was scary.

The building had a metal detector of course. The guy in front of me set it off like a fireworks demonstration. He tried to say something but the police officer told him to empty his pockets and try it again. Same thing. The detector went off.

“You see-”, he tried to say.

“Please, sir. Let me do my job. I’m a trained professional.”With that, she ran the hand-held detector down one side of him and up the other. When she got to his head it went off.

“Metal plate. It always sets these thing off. This is why I’m called Tinhead.”

We got to the courtroom and joined the others who’d been called that day. We all sat around twiddling our thumbs and dozing off. Then a clerk brought in some magazines for us to read while we waited. It was the last year’s supply of Good Housekeeping. That was the choice. Thank God, the judge came in and got our attention.

He told us some facts about the case. One person whacked another with a car and they wanted some help from a jury to reach a settlement. Right. He asked us some general questions and then each of us some specific ones. I got the feeling that my answers seemed normal. They should have since I repeated what everyone else said.

The plaintiff’s attorney opened with a description of the careless driving by the defendant that caused his client to lose control of her car and hit a fire hydrant. She didn’t require a lot of treatment but had been unable to work for the last two years.

“Mr. Smith, don’t snicker in my courtroom”, the judge admonished the defendant.

“Your Highness, she be lying through her teeth.”

“Sorry, your honor, I’ll keep my client under control. Sit down, you idiot.”

“But she be lyin’”

“So what? We’ll get our chance to lie later. Now, shut up!”

The plaintiff’s attorney entered affidavits from the police and the emergency room doctors. He entered one from her family doctor. Then he called her to the stand to describe the accident. She did a good job, a superlative job. If I didn’t know better I’d have believed it, the story was told so well. Thing is, you can’t bullshit a bullshitter. She’s lying.

Later the defense attorney called his client to the stand to tell his side of the story. It also sounded very good. It was well said and made good sense. It was well rehearsed. He was lying too. Uh, oh.

In the jury room we had a problem. None of the six jurors wanted to be made foreman. It didn’t pay any more money so the heck with that. Finally we elected this one lady to be foreman. She’d been dozing and didn’t wake up in time.

The next problem was coming up with a verdict. We didn’t believe either story. That was unanimous. The problem was getting four votes for one side or the other. Two favored the plaintiff based on better acting. Two favored the defendant based on better lines and direction. One wanted to convict them both if we could. Me? I just wanted to go home. The judge wanted to go to lunch.

We finally decided for the plaintiff. We awarded her no money. We didn’t give her anything for lost wages since, as the defense attorney pointed out, she’d not worked in a year prior and wasn’t looking for work. Besides, she had stolen the car in the first place.


 

Mish-Mash

Like most people I tend to ignore tv ads. I sort of drift off when one comes on and then come back when the show does. I’ve often wondered what good ads do for the advertisers. It must somehow work or they wouldn’t spend the money doing it. At least, you’d think that would be true.

I happened to not drift off the other night when a Cadillac commercial came on. I could’t believe my eyes. The car they were showing looked like any other car. There wasn’t a thing special about it. Frankly, it looked cheap.

Now, that’s what’s wrong with America.


Now it’s time for New Year’s Eve. I don’t always make it until the ball comes down, having gone down myself. However, the next day is a new year so that’s okay.


My people have a traditional New year’s Eve dinner. It’s pork roast,kielbasa, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Yes, it is a little gassy but we keep the windows cracked open. That’s from the old days when you had fireplaces. One bit of that methane and the whole neighborhood would go up.


Decided to brave the day after Christmas madness and pick up some things on sale. Apparently I was the one with the madness. Cars everywhere, especially in front of me. People everywhere, especially the unwashed.

The stores were crowded and looked like Mongols had raided the place. I got home safe and sound and, I hope, a little wiser. Perhaps.


Last minute Christmas shopping. This proves that I don’t get smarter with age. I bitch about the traffic even though I’m part of the problem. I bitch about the crowds even though I’m part of the crowd.

I know, I know, it makes me sound like a hypocrite but I am one so there you go.


Now the Miss World contest is dropping the bikini part of the show. They may as well drop the show all together for all the audience they’ll get. Men don’t watch the show to hear the women give a speech. Not by a long shot. Yes, it shouldn’t be that way but it is.


Fixed the Toilet, Really Fixed It

When I bought my house in Charleston, S.C., everything was in good shape. The house was only a year old. A few years go by and the toilet in the master bedroom got a little wobbly. I called a guy out and he took care of the problem.

A few weeks later it got wobbly again. Well, to Hell with the pros, I’d fix it myself. That lasted a few days.

My son-in-law, who was a plumber at one time, said he come over while we were on a trip and fix it right. When we got back he told us the toilet was never going to wobble again. He’d drilled into the slab and bolted the toilet to the slab.

“If a hurricane comes along and takes this house into the next state, that toilet is still going to be sitting there on that slab. Guaranteed.”



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They are the salt of the earth and the backbone of America. Their stories are America's stories. These are the stories Of Appalachia.

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