Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lucky Juror Number 13

Salvatore Vuono
Jury Duty! How Fun!

Recently, I was able to see our legal system at work. And I’m not talking about having to write a big fat check for a speeding ticket from Wisconsin. Not that I have ever had one.
No, I got a juror questionnaire in the mail. Hot damn! I filled it out immediately, sent it in, and waited anxiously. Approximately 4 seconds later, the county called me for jury duty. So fast! I marveled. All the other juror prospects must be either rearranging their sock drawers or washing their hair. Well, they wouldn’t know what they were missing. I felt so lucky and excited and chosen. My husband just gave me funny looks.

The day of my new legal career dawned bright and sunny. I had a whole extra half hour that morning, so that was exciting. I dallied around the house, petting the dog, drinking extra coffee to get my brain ready for all the legal puzzles I would surely be solving, and lining up an extra word find book in case I finished the first one, what with all that delicious free time.

After I reached the downtown area, I realized a much smarter way of using that half hour would have been to spend it looking for a parking spot, as it seemed every citizen in town--and a couple hundred from out of town--had business down at the courthouse.

If the parking deck was any indication, I estimated that there must have been approximately 700 people who had been called for jury duty that same Tuesday who actually showed up. I ended up parking somewhere in south Detroit.

We were all crammed into a area the size of a fitting room at a department store, except it was a little smaller and didn’t have mirrors. There were, however, some televisions, and we got to watch a stimulating movie about the justice system. I took meticulous notes until I saw I was the only nerd doing so.

However, I was excited because a) there was free coffee, b) I knew that I would get a big whopping check for $13 and daydreamed of how I would spend it and c) I got to do some serious people watching. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I got in enough people watching to last me a very long time, which means that I wouldn’t have to travel to Wal-Mart to get my fix.

After a couple of hours of swilling free coffee and getting lost find the ladies’, my name was called and I was taken with about 50 other people into a courtroom for possible inclusion as a juror in a criminal case. Name after name was called and once they had questioned and accepted 12 jurors, I was smugly packing up my books and magazines, cerain that I would be excused. I would go home to go online and spend my $13 on Amazon.
It was not to be. Would that I had this sort of luck in the lottery! In a room with approximately 35 other prospective jurors, guess whose name got called next. As an ALTERNATE. Not even a real juror, but an ALTERNATE, lucky juror number 13.

The jury questioning was very interesting. Here’s a sample of what they asked the REAL jurors:

Lawyer: What is your name? Where do you live? What’s the biggest problem facing this area? Are you related to any law enforcement people? Do you have pets? Are you a citizen of the United Sates? Can you breathe on your own? Are you human?

Here’s a sample of what they asked ME:

Lawyer: What is your name? How many hours do you sleep at night? Ever had a charley horse? Do you believe in aliens? Ever flush a goldfish? Are you regular? Do you suffer from tennis elbow? What is your favorite color? 
Of course, I drew the line at that last one. Even I have my dignity and the whole color issue…well, that was just WAY too personal.

For those of you who don’t know, the alternate juror is like the pale, skinny kid in gym class who gets picked last for basketball or softball. It’s the punishment juror. You are forced to stay in the courtroom all day long, listen to all the same testimony as the actual jurors, take the same breaks and yawning the same yawns, but when the state and the defense have both rested and if the jury of twelve is ready, willing, and able to go into the jury room and begin the REAL jury work, YOU would go home.

Today, the 12 real jurors were all ready, willing, and able to deliberate. To make matters worse, now after listening to all that testimony and forming opinions, I was not even able to find out who they were going to vote off the island, because I was DISMISSED. Like an attorney’s used Kleenex or a judge’s broken shoelace.

At any rate, after being thanked profusely by the court, I was excused and free to go. I was given two days’ worth of jury pay, minus the cost of the paper used to print the check.
However, I was gifted with a lovely certificate, suitable for framing, congratulating me on serving. My eyes filled with tears as I swear I heard the song God Bless America. I was so honored that it took some of the sting out of the fact that I wasn’t even able to find out if the defendant was guilty or not guilty.

Never one to let things go, however, I found out through some tricky internet sleuthing that the jury ended up voting exactly the way I would have…not guilty.

John Grisham would have been proud.

(originally printed here:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cold Sores and Dry Shampoo

It began innocently enough.  A minor itch.  A slight twinge.  A little tingle.  I started to fret.  But maybe it wouldn’t happen this time.  After all, I had gotten through other bouts of illness without developing one—maybe this would be one of those times.  
Dream on. 
It was not to be.  At work, I felt the no-mistaking-it tingle heralding the new arrival, and a look in my compact mirror confirmed what I already knew:  I was witnessing the birth of the world’s worst cold sore.  
Fever Blister.  Herpes simplex.  It all sounds different to the ear but in the end, they are all the same—a gigantic cootie cluster on my lower lip, half an inch from dead center.
Maybe it wasn’t so much a birth as a coming home, however.  After all, the only place I ever, ever get cold sores is in that very same spot.  Same lip.  Every time.  What skeeves me out even more is the fact that despite my OCD antibacterial hand gel application efforts, despite wiping every touchable hard surface at home and at work with antibacterial wipes, despite bathing in Lysol and gargling with bleach, I got one anyway.  
Remembering backward, I realized that I had seen a coworker sporting a fever blister a week or two before.  The "ewww" factor has been racketed up a notch.
Typically, the day before the spot actually makes its debut there is also quite a bit of pain, especially on the Chris Cacciatore unique pain scale.  I'm not saying I'm a big baby but even a hangnail will wake me up at night.  Throw a cold sore at me and it’s grounds for calling in sick.
The last time I got a massive cold sore was during a…you guessed it…cold.  My defenses were down; I should have seen it coming.  I had felt crappy all day at work, and suddenly, my entire bottom lip looked as if a chorus line of bees had stung it in unison.  That night at home, the pain was so intense that I was forced to start my obituary.  
The next morning, surprised to find myself still alive, I realized that due to all the tossing and turning I did the night during the world’s worst night’s sleep, I had overslept.
For those who have no time for a quick shower, it’s dry shampoo to the rescue.  Or so I thought.
I had picked it up on a whim, this Tresemme dry shampoo.  I had overheard a conversation while sitting at McDonald's writing one afternoon.  It's normally a great place to write because you can tune everything out except this time, when two young women were talking about their hair, it caught my attention, mostly because they were actually pronouncing it "her".  That word was accompanied by lots of patting of said "her".  The conversation was animated as they discussed hair products but came to a standstill when one told the other she washed her hair daily.
The other said back, "You'll dry your "her" out!  Don't do that, girl.  Use some o' that dry shampoo.  You won’t believe how it perks up your hairstyle on days when you are skipping a day, or maybe you're just too lazy to wash your hair.”  
What?  A new way to be stylish while still allowing me to be lazy?  Sign me up.  I actually found some at the store on the way home.  Now, normally, I don't take much advice from people sitting in McDonald's but due to the above referenced illness, I’m game...and since I overslept, what better time to try it?
Getting ready for work that morning, squinting through the cloud of agony my lip was causing, I read the directions and applied the dry shampoo to my own "her" accordingly, then brushed it out as instructed.
This is a product that I will never, ever buy again.  I have a dreadful feeling it had been moved from the Halloween section of Wal-Mart into the hair section, as it obviously was meant to be used to make white stripes in my hair for a Bride of Frankenstein costume.  Despite vigorous brushing, I couldn't brush the white out and ended up with not only white hair but a very pink scalp.
not so fast, Romeo.  This chick is taken.
Thanks, random strangers at McDonald's.  Moms always said don't eavesdrop and I should have listened.
It worked out in the end, however, because coworkers were too busy trying not to stare at my white streaks to even notice I had a cold sore.