Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Day in Court (but not in orange)

For part of my Thanksgiving break from school, I decided to treat myself with a little day in court. Ever since I thought I wanted to become a lawyer (11th grade: don't judge me!) I knew court was the place for me. I've adjusted that a bit (to my supreme delight), but I still love the scene.
I talked the li'l bro into it, so off we went.
Following the advice of my 60-100wpm instructor, I hit up the information counter to find some juicy cases. Criminal? Heck ya!
Her: There's Family Law too...
Me: (repeating self) Just criminal sounds good.
Her: Okay, you've got Departments 4 and 5. Both start about now.
Me: Thank you. (in head: YeeeeehAW! Here we go!)
I peered through the window in Dept 4, but the seating area was M.T. Not good. I didn't want to stand out like an...um...law abiding person in the midst of the (alleged) unlawful. Dept 5 was filled--much more promising.
Triple podium booth thing set up, two clerkys on the right. Bailiff with a belt sporting some serious hardware (one of which I like to imagine was a tazer) meandering about, court reporter with related equipment (squeee!), the People (skinny bald man with large white mustache--looked like a shriveled turtle), and the court appointed defense attorney (or whatever you call them).
Oh yeah. And a room full of people. And they were all innocent. It was rather amazing, really, that that many people could be called in to court like that, and all 100% hadn't done that thing for which they were accused.
(yeah, I know. guilty ppl wouldn't show up, they would just pay or go to jail. leave me my Shawshank Redemption moment)
Judge pops in and we get underway.
First case: Welfare fraud and perjury (meh, not too exciting)
Next: Petty theft from....Wal Mart. I would find that this was to become a theme. In fact, let's just get Wal Mart out of the way now. These two hoodlums (hey, I can only tell you what my eyes tell me) apparently drove to said retail outlet under a suspended licence, stole stuff, and attempted to abscond. My fevered imagination can only begin to fill in the holes on this. And it wants to. Oh it wants to. But onward!
Two girls (ahem: young women) are called up. Judge seems surprised to find they have the same last name.
Judge: Are you two related?
Them: tee hee....yes
Judge: How?
Them: tee hee...we're sisters
Guy behind us that has decided to audition for the role as "Peanut Gallery": They're SISTERS!
Me: (thinking: Duh. That's what she just said....)
Judge: You're both too young to be getting involved in a life of crime.
See, they got hit with petty theft AND burglary. Burglary, huh? I wonder what they took. I am beginning to find out that is the problem with hearings...there aren't any details. In fact, the judge even says not to tell her details because it won't affect their case in the slightest. Dang.
After a couple more cases are pulled up about Wal Mart, I realize the reason is one of three things:
1. Walmart is the only significant retailer in the area.
2. Walmart is huge, a lot of stuff must get stolen.
3. Walmart is good at catching the bad guys. (and upon discussion with li'l sis, who works there, I'm going to place a whole lot of weight on that last one, though I suspect it's a bit of all three)
And all of them get the "Stay away from the Walmart! Don't shop at the Walmart. Ya hear me? Don't go go near the Walmart!" speech. I could barely keep from giggling when I considered the line from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou where the guy says "And stay out of the Woolsworth!" after he kicks out Everet for fighting.
We had 3 or so spousal abuse cases, though strangely, it was mostly the women beating up on the guys. I wonder if that's an area phenomenon. One guy wanted to take it back, saying that it had all happened when he had four beers in him (only 4? really? He was a big guy...). The People wouldn't drop b/c the statement he had made to the Sheriff when he called was completely different with what he was saying. After discussion with friends, we decided there was a lie by omission: only 4 beers. Who knows what else he knocked back? I guess he had to be sober enough to call tho...but then again... Drunk Dial: Sheriff Edition! (I see a whole new reality show...I could help write!)
Makes me wonder how much money the county is going to lose prosecuting this guy when both of them want it dropped. But hey. Goes to show: Don't Drunk Dial the Sheriff.
We have Marijuana Man. And of course, what did he do?
Oh come on, YOU know!
He played the "medical marijuana card". Literally.
Peanut Gallery: Of COURSE he does...
The Peanut Gallery was there b/c he had missed a payment on his DUI class and they had dropped him. But oh. He wanted to go back. He BEGGED to go back. "I must finish this!" He says with earnest sincerity, "It is my heartfelt dream to finish this course and get my licence back!" The judge gets a tear in her eye. "Go forth young man and conquer!" She says, " I believe in you!" or some such dialogue.
Last type was the guy they pulled up on charges of trespassing and (get this) loitering. As my sis says "I will loiter...if I have time." Then it comes out that this guy (who must be at least 18 if he's in reg court) loiters and lurks and stuff around the house of a man and his daughter. His 14-year OLD daughter. Not cool. That's at least 4 years, and at that age, 4 years is a LOT.  Man-boy is ordered not to loiter, lurk, or otherwise tarry at said household.
Of course, as they are getting down to the last couple, the bailiff and the judge start giving us the eye. "Why are they there?" they wonder. The bailiff even comes over and says in a not-stage-whisper "Which case are you waiting for?"
Me: We're just observing...(Please don't give us paperwork!!!)
Him: Oh. (obviously disappointed he can't give us paperwork in triplicate that will ask us to divulge our blood type, name of our first born children--or prospective children-- the serial number on our home fax machine and financial information to determine whether or not we can get a court appointed lawyer. Sorry Bailiff, I know that's all you live for.)
The judge finishes up, then goes over the names of the ppl who didn't show up to make sure she can legally slap warrants on them. Every time she mentions a female name, she stares straight at me, no doubt waiting for me to jump up with the clarion call "That's MEEEEE!!!" When this doesn't happen, she asks us what case we're here for. Bailiff-man, happy to get *some* mileage out of us, pipes up "They're just observing!" I think I see confusion pass over the clerk's faces. "Oh..." the judge says.
I don't think ppl observe very much.
We left right about then.
Me: Thanks and all...Great job Judge! You really nailed that loitering case! This will make excellent material for my blog and all. (I actually only said the first word of this--probably a good thing)
All in all, great and productive use of a free morning.  :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sexual Harassment

What do YOU know about sexual harassment*?
I mean, I assume it's bad. What I don't expect is for you to show me a lengthy video featuring a man in suspenders and a 90's haircut in front of a large empty fish tank outlining in explicit detail how exactly to go about doing said harassment if you so chose. With "skits" of each type. (I mean, it's also possible that they WERE real, and whoever was manning the security footage let it go so's they could get the goods for a training video that they could then copyright and sell to various franchises across the country)
Sexual Harassment Option 1:
Bug people for dates even when they said no. Then, follow them into the stock room and when your backs are to each other, poke out your butt and gyrate it on theirs. You will know you are successful if you hear cries of "hey! stop it!". Then explain to the young handsome manager that touching other people in the stock room is unavoidable. This option works best if you are slightly creepy-looking to begin with.
SHO 2:
Get yourself into a management or supervisory position so you can force your minions to enter into "relationships" with you. This is an especially good option if you are a woman in your mid 30s and want a little action with some of the hot young stuff. Make sure you use the word "relationship" when making your flirty advances. This is suitably creepy, yet defendable to your superior: "I want working relationships with ALL my lackeys".
SHO 3:
Find the middle-aged man on staff (all restaurants are required to have at least one for diversity's sake). In the break room, pressure him for details about his date the previous night. Because he told two young women less than half his age about the date hoping they could offer...advice? Hangout hotspots? A shoulder to cry on when it didn't go well? Make sure you and your sycophant flank him so he can't get away easily. Then pull out the thumbscrews and grill him about his lady friend. Fun for all! (except him)
SHO 4:
This option is good for men, because I think only they can pull it off with the proper amount of offensiveness. (how much offensiveness? a LOT. Trust me folks, to do this, you need to be able to leer, and I haven't yet met a woman who could leer half as well as a man) So. You need to grab the person you want to make uncomfortable for a makeshift ruse, like taking inventory of the canned goods closet. Then, halfway through, look behind her at the woman loading up a cart with unidentifiable objects. Then say "Man, look at THAT! What a body..." Your victim will try to get back to work, but you should pepper the conversation with more snippets such as "Hot damn, how does she even work here with a body like that" and "I'd sure like to get my hands on those curves". With the proper facial expression, it will do wonders for your reputation (as a lecher).
So, especially as we got to the end, I found myself excited about all the ways to harass someone that I hadn't known about before. And then suspender man came on again and said "Sooo...all that stuff we just showed you? Yeah, don't do any of it." Me: "The why the heck did you SHOW it to me and get me all excited??!!"
I also find it interesting that these videos and courses are always about your fellow co-workers and never about the public, which happens a whole heck of a lot more.
*yeah, yeah. SH is not for the weak of stomach, or even for ppl who actually strive to be morally righteous. Perform these options at your own risk, and the risk of pepper spray. Redgirl is not responsible for your subsequent unemployment and/or possible incarceration. Be good boys and girls.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Some of you know that I'd been looking for a job, and moreover, that I got one.
Where you ask?
At "Mexi Gong", the bell of all tacos: "Mexican inspired" quick cuisine as a "Service Champion". (as opposed to a Food Champion)
And you, my readers know what this means. Oh yes. Delicious stories in the customer service field of the kind I am so good at. I doff the vest and tie for the Ball Cap of Knowledge and the Polo Shirt of Barely Restrained Enthusiasm.
To kick things off, my next post will walk you through the videos and training material because I had too....and I am firmly in the school of thought that misery and suffering loves company. (Plus I had to restrain my laughter at some REALLY inappropriate times because the manager might think I wasn't taking things like sexual harassment seriously. As if.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Taste of Adventure

I'll be the first to admit that I like a a little adventure. Especially if it happens to someone else.
What I do not like is adventure on my morning commute when it might make me late for class.
*               *               *
I finally got to sleep for my 30-40 minute morning nap when I wake up to a slight smell of diesel. I know this smell well*. I go back to sleep thinking, "All these wimps in their heavy coats. I'm in a long sleeve shirt and I'm hot."
Next time I wake up, the air is stifling with fumes, the bus is stopped on the side of the road, and a voice from the rear proclaims "I see smoke!"
I'm not going to discount that, but I know from the Moorpark trip that a cloud of spraying diesel mixed with seam in cold air can look like that. Not that I'm not willing--and ready--to vacate this death trap. Or, in the bus driver's words: "If you might like to join me on that service road across the shoulder? (We are on Interstate 5, so it was a BIG shoulder).
As I stand on the service road some 60 feet away, noting the fuel puddling on the ground, I start to consider the possible blast radius. When firing a canon (3-inch ordinance rifle), we use 6-9 oz. Cannon Grade GOEX black powder, to which the safety zone is 60ft.  How much fuel is the bus carrying? What is the blast radius of a 47 passenger bus carrying 3/4 a tank of fuel? How much fuel was that? How many of the cars passing by would it take out when it blew?
These were questions I wanted answers to, though not necessarily questions that would help me in any way considering there wasn't much I could do except walk down the side of the shoulder.
Somehow I suspect that an exploding bus might cover more than 60 feet.
The next bus that morning comes by, and the more anxious (and hotfooted) of our bunch hops on.
Lady behind me after looking in: "I looks really full...I'll wait for the next bus..."
I thread my way to the back, and we leave with 3 seats open on a 57 passenger bus. After we drive off, there are more than 20 people dotting the highway shoulder who decided to wait. The next bus is only a 45 passenger and is usually 3/4 full. Even if they can get most of the people on, I'll be a few will have to stand. How many?
Probably 3.
As we're seated, I turn to the woman across the aisle. "That was different."
Her: "Yes, yes it was."
When it comes to adventure for myself, I'll stick with just a taste.
*Those who know me in my Civil War reenactment capacity will recall the epic journey back from Moorpark with 7 horses and leaking fuel injectors. Ah...for the old days!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jury Selection

So I was thinking.
Studying to be a court reporter and all (criminal, ir you cared), and I haven't really spent any time in a court room. I went once in highschool with an attourny to job shadow back when I thought *THAT* might be a good idea. Closest I've gotten in the interveening years was going for a police ride-along courtesy of Civics.
Such fond memories:
  • The woman who experienced the loss of a ceramic toad planter the size of a basketball off of her front porch
  • The discovery of a stolen car, but no one had a finger printing kit in their car (3 cars people--3 whole cars!)
  • Shown an area of the city I had always thought pleasant and told that if you wanted to swap drugs or have gay sex, that was where you went
  • Slapping the siren on and racing though town to get to the scene of "shots fired"....wasn't allowed out of the car tho *pout*
Only other brushes with the judicial system include watching crime dramas (Criminal Minds, Wire in the Blood, etc) and hearing people tell me how they talked their way out of a traffic ticket. Being a basically law-abiding citizen though (mostly don't want to deal with the consequences), I usually end up thinking "Well, you *were* doing 80 in a 60 mph zone because you spent too long on your hair this morning, so I'm kind of with the law on this one."
The point is that I would love to be called up for jury duty. Problems that I have and would prob try to mention to the judge:
  1. I could loose my financial aide with the amount of days I would be missing.
  2. I just started an hourly job, which will be my only source of income. I can't afford it.
  3. I'm a court reporting student. I'd be too busy watching court procedure, what the court reporter is doing, and thinking of the entire proceedings in steno, which means I won't be able to pay attention to the content. I mean, I caught myself doing that last Sunday halfway through the sermon on Acts.
  4. None of the above
Aaaand....reasons that the judge will probably allow:
(4) None of the above.
Plan for gettin' a little court action without the dangers?
As Thanksgiving rolls around, I get a week off. I plan on sitting in on the local courtroom for at least one of those days.2
Any interesting brushes with the law out in blog-o-land? Or purely theoretical things that may have happened to a friend of a friend? :P