Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Weird Week That Was

It all started with jury duty. 8 am. Tuesday morning.

Never done it, so I really had no idea what to expect. But since I have been on city buses, in public libraries and to the DMV, I should have known. I was in for a cross-section of humanity that explains just how someone like George W. Bush gets elected, twice, and the Home Shopping Network is perennially a ratings bonanza.

Somehow I was whittled down
from a jury pool of about 300 to a presiding jury of six - I owe this to my not being a public racist and my never having been involved in a domestic violence case. Throughout the selection process, I was amazed to learn just how many of my fellow Multnomah-countyians have no formal education beyond high-school, currently have no job and were involved in domestic violence cases. And willing to discuss it all with perfect strangers.

The gist of the case was that the accused, a woman of about 55, allegedly hurled a piggy bank, which was really more of a clown bank, at her biological daughter - a woman who had been absent from her life for 30-some years - hitting her in the face. Seems like an extreme reunion, but I am leaving out some details.

The real drama happened in the cozy confines of our jury room, where we were routinely sent while the attorneys tried to get their shit together. Back there, the six of us got to know each other real well over the day and a half of proceedings. It was kinda like the Breakfast Club, but everyone was some variation of the freaky Ally Sheedy character.

We had the recent college grad. who works with special needs kids, the 40-something ex-Nike shoe modeler who's been out of work for three years, the 50-something bull-dyke with a haircut that could stab you to death, the preppy housewife who brought her side-job stuffing envelops into our jury room, a small Turkish man who's name could not be pronounced no matter how hard you tried, and me.

It was back in this tiny room that I learned more than I ever would want to know about the small Turkish man. He moved to the U.S. for a woman he loved. They got married, he got a good job, and together they had a child. Wife leaves the man. He loses his job. And he has no family or friends anywhere in this country. But since he still has partial custody of his kid, he can't go anywhere.

The man began crying. I shit you not. Right there, in the jury room. As we tried to determine the fate of some Jerry Springer cast-offs (what the hell happened to that show), I had to watch a grown man cry about his broken heart. So fucking brutal.

The evening after my first day in court, my boss asked me to meet her for a drink. That was strange but since I was already fired, rehired temporarily, and had an end date coming soon, I figured whatever she had to tell me couldn't possibly bring me down. She informed me, that despite the five layoffs we saw last week, all of which took effect immediately, I was being offered my job back.

The only sense I can make of it all, is that my agency was on a parrallel path with the stock market. Lots of panic. Everybody selling off everything they had. Then we reached a point that was so low, you couldn't afford not to buy in. And now, anyone left treading water, is getting rescued by a big, slow-moving barge called Recovery.

Speaking of the market, the interview with Jim Madden (correction - Jim Cramer. Thanks anonymous. Not sure where I got Madden.) on the Daily Show last Thursday was pure genius. I urge you to watch all three parts. And thank you, John Stewart for having the brass set you have to castigate these people in front of millions. They truly deserve it.

This weird week came to a close straight out of Seinfeld's bizzaro-world, where the complete opposite of what should happen, happens.

We've been working feverishly for a client who seems to show no appreciation and instead, talks to us as if we are trained monkeys. I took offense and stood up for myself during one late afternoon meeting. In most cases of this nature, I reflect on my behavior and while I'm happy I said what I did, I offer a written apology to friends, coworkers, the wife, or whoever fell victim to my latest offense. This seemed like it was gonna be another one of those times. And then something totally crazy happened. Something bizarro. The client sent me an apology for her behavior. Totally unprecedented.

I only hope the week that starts in a few short hours is equally entertaining.


Anonymous said...

1. It's Jim Cramer - where did you get Madden from?

2. I hope your boss paid for the drink.

3. I tend to flee when people cry in front of me in public.

James Becker said...

Ironically, this is one of the few stories that the Idaho Statesman picked up from the AP this morning, go figure: