26 February 2008

I've had enough...revisited

"I have to presume that the Kylie on the other end of the phone was not a four year old but an adult. This was hard to do....I thanked Middle Aged Bitch for her top notch people skills in dealing with me"

Recently I posted a blog http://dw-perspectives.blogspot.com/2008/01/ive-had-enough.html about being summonsed for Jury Duty for the fourth time in seven months. I thought it would be a great idea to do a follow up blog on what happened next...

After receiving the summons I decided to ring up the NSW Sheriff's office and explain to them that as a contractor (that is I get paid by the hour for the work I do) I would be suffering financial hardship if I did a six week court case. Anyway, I spoke to a female who sounded extremely young. I wondered if I had rung up the local kindergarten by mistake, but no it was the Sheriff's Office. So this young lady (let's call her Kylie) would be making a decision on whether I would need to attend Jury Duty.

I have to admit that I had visions of a four year old girl (i.e. Kylie) dressed up as a Sheriff from the Wild West days with cowboy pants on and a gun in a side holster. Naturally a cowboy hat completed my imaginary vision. I have to presume that the Kylie on the other end of the phone was not a four year old but an adult. This was hard to do.

Anyway, Kylie explained that once I had been refused exemption I had to attend the court for Jury Duty. I tried to explain to her that it was financial suicide to be on a six week court case but Kylie stood her ground and said 'no'. She then got off the phone (and presumably played with all the other four year olds at kindergarten).

My next port of call was to my local State MP's office. I had met my local Member of Parliament a couple of times and had found him very receptive. I rang his office and spoke to one of his staff. The person I spoke to (let's call him Bruce) was very sympathetic and said he would ring his 'contact' at the Sheriff's office to see what could be done. I just hoped he didn't know Kylie otherwise I wouldn't be getting anywhere with my predicament. Anyway, it was sleep time for the kindy children so Kylie would be unavailable.

After a couple of hours Bruce rang back and said that he had spoken to a senior contact (I presumed a six year old) who said that the Sheriff's decision was final. All I could do was turn up on the day and argue my case. I thanked Bruce and let myself ponder my options.

The options were this...not to attend and risk a huge fine; attend and look a bit weird hoping not to get selected or attend and argue a damn good case.

So I thought that a combination of the last two options were the way to go.

For 4 days prior I decided not to shave and to have a semi beard like visage. On the (call up) day I wanted to send out signals that I was a bit 'alternative' so I wore lace up Doc Marten boots, straight black jeans rolled up to reveal the boots, a t-shirt which read 'it's hard to be this good looking', a couple of rings, id bracelet and a unisex necklace. I suppose I looked a bit like a punk/goth/alternative type of character by the time I left the house. I have to admit I got a few strange looks on the train into Sydney. In fact, no one wanted to sit next to me!

I arrived at the court and had to go through an airport x-ray machine. I left the jewellery on deliberately but the machine didn't bleep. Then I had to show some id before going into the jurors room (a large room without windows that has televisions showing daytime shows - yippee!). The lady who asked for my id (let's call her Middle Aged Bitch) was speaking in a condescending tone as if I was a criminal. I thanked Middle Aged Bitch for her top notch people skills in dealing with me as I made my way into the jurors room.

Inside I had to show my summons and was given a number. Following that we (the potential Jurors) were all taken into the court and asked if we could do the 6 week court case. Of the 100 people summonsed only 8 said they could do the case. Given that 15 were absent that meant there were 77 people who needed to be excused. The problem for the Officer of the Court was that they needed at least 20 people to enable a jury to be formed!

So we all traipsed back to the windowless jurors room for some riveting television. Riveting it was. I didn't realise that there were so many facial cremes for women! Anyway, some people were being called up to see the Officer of the Court and were told that they were not excused from Jury Duty. My 'impersonal' number was called in the last group after having been waiting for about three hours and getting well and truly sick of daytime television.

I was the last number called and the Officer of the Court said that I was excused this time but would be summonsed again. She told me to think about attending a short time frame court case. I stood still and thought about it for 3 seconds and told her that I had indeed thought about it and that the moment had now passed. With that I was a free man! Now I know what leaving prison must feel like. On the way out a gave a wave to the Middle Aged Bitch for fun!

So now I await my fifth summons to appear in the post soon!

19 February 2008

A Yarn about a Rock Concert and a bag of Sugar!

"Well I decided to be a real cooool rock dude and bought a bag of raw sugar!....why is this ATM making weird noises? Why do I have Led Zep songs stuck in my head?"

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to see Iron Maiden live in concert. Not having been a huge fan of theirs I thought twice (some might say this is a lot of thinking for me, but I disagee) before saying yes to the ticket. Having said that, I did like a few of their earlier songs and it would give me a chance to see them live and practice my ever improving air guitar skills. At this stage Jimmy Page need not worry though!

Anyway, the concert was on a Saturday night and this is always a great night to go out and have a good time. As I was driving to the gig at the Acer Arena I decided not to drink any alcohol before, during or after the gig. This was an amazing feat for me as having a cool ale before a concert is a good way of getting into the 'rock' mode. For the record I am not becoming a new age religious geek by abstaining from alcohol.

So I showered and set off to see the show. Now what would most people do on their way to a heavy metal concert? Some would buy alcohol, others would get some food (pizza mmmm) and some would buy a pack of smokes. Well I decided to be a real cooool rock dude and bought a bag of raw sugar! Yes, you heard me right, I bought some sugar. Obviously my brain was going haywire as I realised that there was no sugar in the house after I set off in the cruise mobile aka the old Ford Falcon.

After I bought the sugar and started to head to Homebush I realised that I needed $100 to give to my friend for the ticket. This would be no problem, I thought, as I would drive to the next ATM machine and draw out the money. Easy peasy, no problemo I thought.

So I drove to the ATM machine put my card into the slot only to realise that the machine was displaying the "out of order" sign. I was slightly perturbed but remembered that the BP Service Station down the road had an ATM as well. I set off to it while listening to Led Zeppelin on the cd player an getting into the rock mood.

I arrived at the servo and quickly went inside while humming 'Dazed and Confused'. As it turned out it was an apt song for the night ahead. I put my card in the slot, chose the amount and account and waited for the money. I waited and waited and waited and still no money came out! I was there for three minutes when I started cursing under my breath. Where was my money? will I get my cashcard back? why is this ATM making weird noises? Why do I have Led Zep songs stuck in my head? The service station manager then came over and told me that the machine was playing up. I had to count to ten before calmly telling him that possibly (maybe) he should put a sign up to that effect!

I knew that the chances were that I would not pass another ATM machine before Homebush. As I got close to my destination I saw another service station that had a McDonalds adjoined to it. Surely they would have an ATM? I went inside the servo and started looking frantically for the ATM. I looked everywhere but could not see the darn thing! I asked a staff member where was the cashpoint machine. He said there wasn't one. I was dumbfounded and told him so. I kindly pointed out that this was pathetic. Especially as Macca's was next door! He just shrugged his shoulders and went back to packing the shelves.

I was now running late and had to get a move on. I arrived at 8.30 and met my friends. I remembered that the Acer Arena had ATM's! I was saved - hallelujah! I told my friends that I would get the $100 now as I had had an eventful night with cash machines and told them I would see them in the arena. My jaw nearly hit the ground when I saw the queues. They were at least 30 deep in all directions! Most of the ATM users were drunk and could not operate the machines properly.

Anyway, I struck up a conversation with a Maiden fan who used to work at the South Pole. He told me lots of interesting things about this wonderland. It certainly helped pass the 30 minutes of queueing. Finally, I got to the front of the queue and put my card in and yes....I got cash!!

For the record, the concert was great. Iron Maiden put on a really powerful performance with great musicianship. For me 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' was the pick of the night.

I went home happy in the knowledge that I wouldn't have to get up early in the morning to buy some sugar or visit an ATM!

07 February 2008

Back in 5 Minutes

"What is wrong with saying "back in 4.5 minutes" or "back in 7 mins and 35 secs"? ....I am beseeching all shop owners, and everyone else, to put up signs that say back in 4 mins and 59 seconds"

I was recently walking from the Mothership to my other place of work when I walked past this clothing alterations shop which had a sign "back in 5 minutes". I said to my co-worker (hi Nic!) "why do all signs like these say 5 minutes?". This got both of us thinking as to why 5 minutes is taken as an acceptable period of absence?

For some reason 5 minutes has gained huge notoriety as being an acceptable piece of time to be away. My question is why? What is wrong with saying "back in 4.5 minutes" or "back in 7 mins and 35 secs"? We all know that, in reality, people will be away for longer than 5 minutes. If someone has gone to the bank they will definitely not be back in 5 minutes! Having worked for a bank many moons ago (and a few more) I can vouch that this is so.

I have queued up at more than one shop with a 5 minutes sign only to find out that the period was in fact more like 20 minutes! Why can't people be honest!!! Is it too much to ask? Anyway, having thought about this I think that subliminally 5 minutes is deemed to be an acceptable time for a person to wait before the shopkeeper, for instance, returns.

I think we need to start a new crusade. Especially here in Australia. I am beseeching all shop owners, and everyone else, to put up signs that say back in 4 mins and 59 seconds. Let's make this the norm from now on. After all, 5 minutes has had a good run as an acceptable time for many decades, possibly centuries! Now we are in the 21st Century we have the power to create a new time standard.

So who wants to join my crusade? contact me if you do.

Finally, one of my favourite songs by the Stranglers is called, surprise surprise, "5 minutes" Guess how long it lasts? No, not 5 minutes but 3 minutes and 16 seconds. Go figure that one out!!