Sunday, January 28, 2007

From Jury Duty to Nursing School

I was over at Matty's place (Running on Empty) and she wrote a great piece on Canada's hunt for a jury for a mass murderer's trial. They must find people who are capable of sitting on the jury for a year. He confessed to his crimes and has expressed no remorse for his multiple murders. The good citizens of Canada are to spend buckets of money for a fair and proper trial for this dude. Matty thinks that the only people who can spend a whole year on a jury are retired folks in good health and a few other assorted souls. If they seat enough people and then someone dies (old people tend to do that), they will have to start over again! Good Heavens! Most seniors really can't afford to give away a year of their pitifully short life expectancy. Personally, I couldn't sit still for whole days while the lawyers (or do they call them barristers there?) go through all the hanky-panky they learned in law school to get the guilty and depraved off. This is all a prelude to telling you about my experiences of being on juries.

I was called for jury duty when I was thirty-nine. I had been married for twenty-two years and had children who were a sophomore and junior in high school and a freshman in college. In those days, stay at home mommies were the rule rather than the exception. I made their beds, hung up their clothes, washed their nylons, ironed all their clothes, cleaned the house, cooked the meals and did the dishes for my husband and family. It was working very well, because my kids were very involved in their schools, sports, music, honors courses and worked in a restaurant. They all saved their money and totally paid for college themselves. We wanted them to have the very best experience in school that was possible, because I had been forced to do multiple household duties as a teen by the poor health of my mother. Then the summons for jury duty came! I panicked. How would my family get along without me for a whole week? How could I get up at the crack of dawn, get myself dressed, go downtown and still stay up late enough to maintain our home as we knew it? There are no excuses to get out of jury duty. If you were not ill and of reasonable sanity, you got the job. Off I went on the first day and found myself hoping that they would like me well enough to choose me for a jury. I believe we received $8.00 a day for serving. That almost paid for parking and lunch. Right away, I found myself seated on a civil jury. Oh, the joy of being in the middle of a real soap opera! The case consisted of a plaintiff charging that a cement truck had hit a car driven by an elderly man, who was taking a patient to a local hospital for a chemo treatment. This gentleman danced around at the scene while insisting that he was just fine and needed no treatment. However, the paramedics took him to the hospital with the injured woman. He sat in the waiting room of the E.R. for several hours, declining treatment and when the hospital got around to checking him over ---- they admitted him for observation, due to his age. Apparently, he suffered a blood clot in his leg that let loose and traveled to his heart. Dang! He died! Our feeling (in the jury room) was that he misled the medics claiming to be fine and the hospital neglected to diagnose him in time to prevent the embolism. The fact that the truck had actually hit his car did not cause his death, the delay in treatment caused his death. The accident was little more than a fender-bender. The lawyers wanted lifetime care for a retarded son, who was left after the accident and since the truck was from a large company, the lawyer went after everything they owned the big bucks. The jury decided that the request was outrageous and found for the defendant. Ironically, the truck driver, also had a handicapped son and would have lost his ability to care or his son, if we had given them what they asked. The dollar signs were positively rolling around in the pig's lawyer's eyes. When the verdict was read, the defendant cried and we were dismissed. As we tried to leave the third floor of the court house, the plaintiff's attorney was in the elevator with some of the jury. He started raging at our lack of compassion (his lack of big buck fees) and actually chased us down the sidewalks of the courthouse shouting, "Which one of you is going to take this man home and care for him for the rest of his life?" I was scared out of my skin. We told the judge the next morning about what had happened and they filed a grievance. The actual depositions from the jury took six months to get going and when they were done (parking, driving and lunch out of our own pockets) nothing happened to this attorney. I felt abused by the law.

The next two days, I was seated on a criminal jury. After the experience with the civil thing I was frightened to be on the second jury. It involved a black man who had been living with a black woman and had stolen her household goods one day while she was at work. The witnesses for the prosecution and the defense all knew each other and sat together outside the court and ate lunch together. It was one big happy family for everyone except the jury. When we returned a guilty verdict and started out of the courthouse, all the witnesses were laughing and scratching, while going down the sidewalks. I was seriously frightened to walk to my car. If they had started to yell at us as the civil attorney had, I think I would have gone back into the courthouse and asked the judge to walk me to my car.

The amazing part of this was the fact that I was able to get out of the house and into the world ---- and my family did not perish in my absence. This led to my husband making a call to the nursing school and getting an application for me to take the admissions test. I loved reading anything (medicine bottles, if I am detained in the bathroom) and have always been curious about medicine. But, I had married at seventeen ---- long before I knew what area I would have liked to study in higher education. If I were starting out today, I would head right for medical school. By being a wife and mommy for twenty two years, I had the best of young motherhood, and going to nursing school at forty made me an absolute fool for learning. I got the best grades and couldn't get enough of the books. The human body and the disease processes are fascinating. I have been retired from hospital nursing for almost ten years and still read everything I can get my hands on. I never thought I wanted to teach, but I love teaching people about their illnesses and treatments. Every family needs a patient advocate in the medical community and believe me, Florida is crawling with seniors, who don't know s**t from Shinola when it comes to their health. Their doctors never give them a reasonable explanation of their orders --- they need a middleman. I help neighbors here, because I was called for jury duty over thirty years ago.

I was called for jury duty again a couple of years ago. I spent the morning in a back room with the rest of the jury pool --- all the time knowing that I couldn't be on any jury in that case. It involved the Highway Patrol and my son-in-law (a Sergeant involved in the case) was going to be one of the witnesses, but I couldn't even tell the other jurors that I knew what the case was. After four hours of sitting in a crowded room, we were dismissed for the day --- the case was postponed and remanded over to a court in a different city. Never make the mistake of thinking that the law knows what it is doing!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Smack that Brat!

We were out in the car tonight, when the 6:00 o'clock news came on the radio. One of the items reached right out and grabbed me by the throat. It was the story of a three year old girl who threw a tantrum on an airplane that was about to leave the gate here in Ft. Myers. The parents could not get her to sit down and get buckled into her seat, so the plane could leave. Everyone must be strapped in for departure. The mother wanted to hold the child on her lap for takeoff and calm her down, which is against FAA rules. Every passenger on the plane was detained while this family demanded time to deal with their child, who showed no signs that she had ever been taught that certain rules govern public behaviour. I know it is considered bad form these days to use corporal punishment on children, but if a little smack had been used previously on this child --- she would have known who was in charge and could not have held a plane full of adults hostage. The airline finally had to remove the entire family from the flight and they had the nerve to complain. The airline did send them on their way on the next available flight and also gave them three tickets to anywhere in the USA for free! What? People are being rewarded for bad behavior? Get in line folks! The louder you scream and the worse your manners, the more you are rewarded, just to keep the peace. When I was a kid, I did get spanked by my parents, the neighbors, my teachers and any other responsible adult. I never had a ride on an airplane or was allowed to be loud in public or anywhere else. I was sometimes seen, but never heard. Most of my time was spent alone --- hanging out in the neighborhood. Come to think of it --- I literally hung out in any convenient tree! I listened to "The View" this morning and those four women of modest intelligence all supported the idea that children should never be hit. They were in agreement with the California Congresswoman, who has sponsored a bill forbidding
the spanking of any child under four. What do you do when your child has not learned by the sound of your voice
that something bad is about to happen?
They will not run into the street as a car approaches, if your tone implies that they are about to get a smack. They might think it is the "mother is at the end of her tether" and gonna belt me tone, when it is really the "look out sweetheart" tone that saves their life. Do parents of modern children not see the anguished looks on the faces of other adults when their child is raising Cain in public? We bite our lips in an effort to keep from yelling "SMACK THAT BRAT!" I am probably a throwback to the dark ages when we disciplined our children in love to "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it". Proverbs 22:6 I believe that children are a gift from God and we are obliged to teach them the things that will make their later lives happy and fulfilling, instead of self-centered monsters. The day is coming when the government is going to decide our every step --- what we can eat, where we can go, what we can drive, where we can live, how much we must earn, how we can raise our children, et cetera. If I were young, I would think twice about bringing children into a socialist state.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Curiouser and Curiouser

Our dear friend, who has talked half the state of Ohio into moving to Florida for the season, if not the entire year, swears that this is Heaven on Earth and all cities have just as high a crime rate. The nightly news is full of mayhem and murder,---- old people falling into canals, children being snatched from their mothers' arms, horrific crashes on the Interstate, bank holdups, gang fights and multiple other items of good cheer and reasons to stay awake all night for protection. This friend says that it is our imagination when we claim that there seems to be more crime in southern Florida than in northern Ohio. It makes sense to me that crime in Ohio is not as prolific at this time of year. Burglars and felons are not completely stupid. Why freeze your tochas off, when you can have all the crime you want down here in your shirt sleeves? We live in a doublewide park for people over fifty-five years old. Translated --- a candominium for crotchety old people who insist that anyone under fifty-five is bound to be wild and stay up past 9:30, keeping the good senior citizens from sleeping with their riotous living. In the words of John Denver,---"The sidewalks are rolled up precisely at ten and people who live here are not seen again". We heard that a lady and her sinful live-in partner were robbed while they peacefully slept, blissfully unaware that a burglar had cut the screen and waltzed in through the window. On a nearby street, a lady was attacked in her bed ( a lovely euphemism for sexually assaulted), but we are to shut our eyes and pretend that all is well in paradise. We never locked our doors when we lived for nineteen years in the country to raise horses. Part of our certainty that we were safe was a pair of Australian Shepards, who roamed freely and were big enough to scare intruders away with a sweet snarl. I watch these older people keep their windows covered and private, while wondering what in the world they thought anyone would be interested in watching or seeing. The sagging bodies of people in their seventies are just not big on "peeping toms" list of fun things to do on Friday night.
So, we arrive at this night. The husband played golf today and then we went out with friends for dinner and back to their house for lots of laughing and scratching over some card games that only idiots would play. Since it was so much fun, you know where I stand on the idiot scale. Once home, my honey dropped into bed and I checked out a few blogs on my computer. While I was sitting here in my big terrycloth robe --- with the front window uncovered for the whole world to see --- I caught sight of a man out of the corner of my eye. He was just rounding the corner of our front porch and I thought perhaps he was the man next door, who is here just for a week with his little son and his mother. I tried to act nonchalant and got up from my chair, as if I were going for a Coke or some such inane thing. I thought I could duck into the kitchen and peer out a darkened window to make sure he was going next door, where they have the prerequisite security lights that all golden oldies seem to need. After disappearing around the corner of our doublewide, he ducked out of sight and the next thing I know ---- he was riding on a bicycle out into the street in front of our place. He was young, too young for this place. I feel like an absolute fool for sitting here night after night with my lovely Dell Laptop. You know---come rob me --- I am old and stupid. You all know what I have been doing --- sitting here typing away, while I wait to see if he appears again. I am trying to act as though I didn't really notice anything amiss, but inside --- I am scared and just awakening to the idea that times have changed and I have not kept up with the world. If I go to bed --- should I take the hammer or the big wooden spoon I used on my kids when they were naughty? As you can see, my choice of weapons is woefully inadequate very limited. Tomorrow --- I'm off to WalleyWorld for a gun security lights!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Strange Things are Happening

You just can't trust anybody these days! We left Ohio and drove to our place in Florida last week. When we arrived and walked in through the screened in porch, this was the sight that greeted us. Keep in mind that the doors were locked and the neighbor told us that he checked things four days before our arrival. We were really stumped --- thirty pounds of glass everywhere you looked. If you look closely, you can see a fairly heavy ceramic frog sitting on the under ledge of the table. He didn't have a scratch on him,--- just sitting there--- ribbit, ribbit! Oh, yeah --- that white stuff outside is not snow--- that is Ft. Myers sand. It's beatiful! After unpacking, getting settled in and wishing we had a snow shovel for all that glass, we started asking friends what could have happened. The apparent culprit was an airshow in Punta Gorda with four Air Force jets breaking the sound barrier over our place. The vibration of the jets made the heavy frog jump up over the umbrella hole in the table (the weakest point of the safety glass) and the thing just plain exploded --- showering the porch in little glass bits. We have spent five days looking for another table, but they don't like to sell them separately, so we had a Formica tabletop made yesterday and it matches the table legs. There's more than one way to skin a cat! I wonder if I can send the bill to the Air Force? It's great to be back in the beautiful weather and we just beat that terrible Winter ice storm that hit the country --- I guess I shouldn't complain about a little glass.