"It's been so long, but welcome back my friends/ to The Show That Never Ends!" --from "The Score" by Emerson, Lake, and Powell.

At 04:06 (I will be using 24hr time here, for simplicity), I left my apartment to begin my "day in the barrel" at the Downtown Federal Courthouse in San Diego. I'm packing my lunch, paperwork, beverages, and three books. What I'm lacking is sleep--being up since 14:30 the previous day and not knowing that I was going to serve this day.

I make it to Escondido Avenue Sprinter Station at 04:19. I plop onto a bench, pull out a liter of chilled tea, and down it in three pulls (both to rehydrate and for the "morning caffeine" to kick-start my day). The Westbound Sprinter arrives at 04:26, and I board for Oceanside.

I show my pass and ID to the Fare Enforcement Officer on duty (NCTD now handles Sprinter/Coaster Fare Enforcement in-house, rather than outsourcing), then relax and ride through the early morning darkness to the OTC Sprinter Station. We arrive at 04:56, and I walk down the ramp to the Coaster Ticket Machines to get a one-way upgrade.

Since I am going to Downtown San Diego (Santa Fe Depot), I was going to need a "Zone 4" upgrade. Since I have a monthly Regional S/D/M pass (Seniors/Disabled/Medicare) courtesy of my payee, the cost would be $2.25, one way. A round-trip ticket would set me back $6.50. So, I pop in $2.50, get my upgrade ticket, and sit on the bench (slick plastic) to wait for the Coaster.

At 05:18, the southbound Coaster pulls out of Oceanside Station (which it shares with Amtrak and Metrolink). I show my upgrade/pass/ID to the Fare Enforcement Officer on-duty, park my butt in the seat, and pull out another liter of fluid (each Coaster car has a restroom on the lower level), this time a bottle of cherry-flavored "sports drink" (called "Hydrize" by Moran Foods, comes in a six-tub tube for $1.00 at Big Lots, all sorts of flavors--lots cheaper than Crystal Light) and quench my thirst. Then I sit back and watch the "June Gloom" make it's daily debut!

The Coaster ride is much like Amtrak's southbound leg of the Pacific Surfrider, but with stops in Carlsbad (Village and Poinsettia), Encinitas, Sorrento Mesa and Old Town (Amtrak shares a stop with the Coaster in Solana Beach, plus both hit "the end of the southern line" at Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego). The longest "no-stop" stretch is between Sorrento Mesa and Old Town (the gateway to Mission and Pacific Beach, the Rosecrans County Psych Hospital, and Point Loma, all via SD/Metro Tranist Services). A lot of pretty country makes up for it, though.

At 06:27, the southbound Coaster arrives at Santa Fe Depot. I hop off and catch the Blue Line SD Trolley to Broadway and 1st. Five minutes later, I am at the Federal Courthouse in Downtown San Diego. The Jury Intake area is on the left hand side of the street (which is 880 Front Avenue), guarded by suit-wearing members of the Federal Protective Service. Nice enough fellows (one even made a nice remark about my Perry-styled suspenders). I check in with the receptionst after my time in the magnetometer/ baggage X-ray area.

At 07:30, the "Orientation" begins. It takes 30 minutes (much like when you are on County/Superior Court jury duty), involves a DVD and a Q/A session, then we are informed about the "Quiet Room" area (no "live" cell phones allowed, but plenty of comfy chairs and books), the "Snack Room" (snack machines, plus a fridge, where I stashed my lunch/remaining beverages), and Juror Compensation ($40/day, plus .50/mile, round trip, from your residential zip code).

At 09:30, the "first panel" is called for possible service. I'm not on the list...which is cool, since I am rather sleepy. I retire to the "Quiet Room," pull a book ("Paddy Whacked" by T.J. English) out of my Transall, and plop into a comfortable chair (if only they had Barca-Loungers!).

At 12:30, we are excused for lunch. I go to the Snack Room, pull out a container of homemade pasta (recipie already on-line), plus a liter of diet cola. After lunch, back to the Quiet Room and "Paddy Whacked" (about the Rise and Fall of the Irish Mob).

At 14:00, we are sent home (the second case we were being held for was settled). I head back to Broadway and 1st, grab the Trolley back to Santa Fe Depot, and gaet a second upgrade from the Coaster Ticket Machine. The Coaster had pulled in earlier with a lot of Padres fans in garb--there was a game at 3:35pm against the Mets that afternoon.

At 15:23, we pull out of Santa Fe Depot, headed north. We arrive back in Oceanside at 16:40, where I go through the tunnel to get to the Sprinter platform. At 16:56, the Sprinter pulls in. I board the second car, show my credentials to the Fare Enforcement Officer, and plop into the seat.

When it comes to which of the two cars I board when riding the Sprinter, it's all about what time of the day it is. If I am going Westbound from Escondido, I usually ride in the front car. Eastbound from Oceanside, I'm in the rear car--up until 19:30, Monday-Friday.

There is a reason to this. The car I choose is closest to the bus I will take from Vista transit Center back to my apartment. If the 334/335 bus is running, I sit as I stated before. The reason is that the 334/335 stops near my apartment, making it much easier to walk home.

If the 334/335 is idle, then I have to catch the Eastbound 305 to Santa Fe Avenue. Longer walk, plus it's uphill.

Whell, we arrive at 17:26 at the Vista Transit Center. At 17:30, I'm on the 335, which stops on Escondido Avenue at the Vons Shopping Center (right across Escondido Ave from my apartment complex). At 17:49, I get my mail, pop into my apartment, and strip off my clothes for a hot shower.

At 18:20, I call the Jury Hotline to see if I'm to come in on Thursday. I'm to call back on Thursday for further instructions (which I did, to be informed that my jury service liability is now over). Not feeling too terribly hungry, I pull out some ham, hamburger rolls, and barbecue sauce to make up some casual sandwiches, which I down with a liter of chilled tea.

I sack out at 20:00, and fall asleep. I awakened today at 14:30, rested and slightly crampy. A hot shower put that to rights--and got me thinking about the whole experience. If I am called next time: 1) Bring my laptop with me. They do not have Wi-Fi, but I can still watch DVDs or listen to CDs with headphones--or work on other, non-Internet projects.

2) Save up more cash. This means I can pack less beverages, plus invite a fellow waitee out to lunch (I met a girl on my first County jury service, the relationship lasted six months of pure bliss. Since then, I figure that it might happen again).

3) Smaller books! Less weight, plus I do have a good selection.

I managed to gain $82 (juror's pay, plus mileage to-and-from Vista), push my endurance to the limits (30 hours of no sleep wrecks healthy bodies more than twelve ways, guaranteed!), and find out where the Feds try their cases in San Diego.

All in all--not bad. Question is: will they call again in three months?



CuddleFish June 3, 2010 @ 11:43 p.m.

Great read, RobbieBear! Sounds like you had a good time overall, something interesting to do, a nice comfortable place to do it in, and a little bit of moolah in the bargain. Not bad for a day's worth of civic duty. I salute you! :)


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