My younger sister has been called up for potential jury duty. She is most unimpressed about this as she is self employed and her time is precious.
My older sister is beside herself. She fears that her baby sister is going to be chosen for a case involving a crazed psychopathic killer. And she just knows that the killer’s equally psychopathic relatives will be in the court room and, once the said killer is found rightfully guilty, these relatives will stalk her baby sister with intent.
My advice to my younger sister was practical. Once chosen, she has two options to become unchosen. Firstly, she can call out to the said defendant, “Don’t worry cousin I will see to it that you get off this time.” Or, secondly, she can wait until the court room is settled and about to start proceedings and then nudge her neighbouring juror and nod towards the defendant and say in a stage whisper for all to hear, “That face has guilt written all over it.”
I sense that my sister is not going to take my advice because she simply laughed at me when she should have gasped and said, “Yes, yes. That is what I’ll do.”
Our recent conversation brought back memories of a similar situation which involved one of my favourite ex-work colleagues.
I will call him Stuart. I will use this alias not because I want to keep his identity confidential but because it was twenty years ago and I simply don’t remember his name.
Stuart and I worked for a large communication company. Mind you, “worked” is a very poor description for what I did.
I would turn up each day and I’d make two phone calls to follow up the two outstanding contracts in my very slim folder and then I would tidy my desk and then I would look at the silent phone and then I would tidy my desk again and then I would look, hopefully, towards the direction where the morning tea trolley would emerge.
This is well before the days of desktop computers which provide the idle worker with the opportunity for furtive Internet surfing and hours of Alzheimer-avoiding card games.
Stuart, who sat at the desk behind me, had a phone which rang constantly. Stuart arranged the tenders for the sale of excess goods and, even before Ebay arrived, everyone loves the challenge of competitive bargaining.
I loved Stuart. He was most amusing in an eccentric way. And, because I loved him, I willingly helped him with his job (which he hated) and well, let’s acknowledge history, I wasn’t doing anything anyway.
Stuart was attractive in that “a little bit too religious and clean-cut, young Donny Osmond” way in the era of Punks and their mortal enemies the “John Travolta lookalike” disco dancing dudes.
Stuart would spend many hours away from his desk (for reasons I know not why) and, being his friend who also had nothing else to do, I would diligently answer his phone calls and, grateful for the opportunity to wile away the time, I would carefully write out messages for him.
Stuart would finally return from his unexplained adventures about the building and I would proudly hand over the bundle of messages. Stuart would eye them with contempt and toss them in the bin.
Eventually I saw the light and I would respond, “No. I won’t take a message because when I give messages to him he just throws them in the bin.”
Mostly the callers laughed.
Stuart’s aim in life was to leave the company and to live happily on his father’s (yet to be acquired) wealth.
One day he speculated on potential ways to bring about the early demise of his father. I listened dutifully but I wasn’t overly concerned because it was a slow day at the office and I sensed he was just being creative in a scary and “I wish he wasn’t telling me about this” way.
One morning he told me, excitedly, that he had been called up for potential jury duty. I was glad to hear that he had a new and immediate aim in life which was unrelated to acquiring his father’s wealth.
He really wanted to be on a jury because it meant he wouldn’t be answering phone calls and he felt it could be extremely interesting if he came across a murder case.
The first morning that he was rejected at the court, he turned up to work most upset.
The next morning he was rejected, he came to work most dejected but with a plan.
“I’ll get a haircut.” he enthused to me.
The third day he was rejected, he came to work somewhat angry but, again, with a plan.
“I’ll wear a suit!”
On the fourth day I had to sympathise with a most distraught colleague.
He never did get selected for jury duty.
Looking back I now wonder if, on a slow morning waiting for selection, he had been overheard discussing plans with a fellow potential juror about how he could send his beloved Dad to an early entry to Heaven and leave the communications company.
So I am thinking that I may revise my advice to my sister.
“Hey sis, get a haircut, wear a suit and tell someone about your plans to off your wealthy father.”