12/21–The Interview: One-on-One with Kim Jong-un

8/3–VIDEO: Has time run out for Laskin?

3/16–VIDEO: G-rated list of 5 reasons to hire older workers

1/30–VIDEO: I'm Scheduled to Die August 1, 2014

11/19–VIDEO: In which Mr. Laskin takes on Mr. Lincoln

11/2–VIDEO: Rapp Story redux -- an explanation of sorts

10/21–VIDEO: The Rapp Story

9/12–VIDEO: The scariest profession in the world. Really?

7/4–VIDEO: Finally, a movie review without ever seeing the movie

4/18–VIDEO: The 7 words George Carlin would never have used

2/28–VIDEO: Sequester that credit card!

1/16–VIDEO: Don gets the word

10/31–The day social media died

8/6–VIDEO: The secret to viral videos

5/31–We all agree on this, right?

4/5–What's stealing? Really? Me? Shirley, you jest

1/19–VIDEO: The other Goldilocks story

12/11–VIDEO: Accomplishments? Or credentials?

11/7–VIDEO: A few minutes with Don Laskin on Andy Rooney

9/11–VIDEO: The hidden meaning of printer ink expiration dates

8/3–VIDEO: I am a Negro

5/24–VIDEO: It’s the end of the world as we know it

4/11–VIDEO: Return of the Avatar – with handy tips for finding a job

2/28–VIDEO: Laskin names names

2/10–VIDEO: Return of blower man

2/8–VIDEO: The threat of hippos -- and leaf blowers

1/11–VIDEO: Don as you've never seen him before

11/8–AUDIO: Hating the rich. Well, some of them, at least

10/17–VIDEO: He's not sleeping, he's making an important decision

10/1–What Amelia Earhart has to do with marketing management

8/25–AUDIO: The Mosque Ox

8/23–AUDIO: Why Meg Whitman needs to talk with Don en espanol

7/12–VIDEO: Don Laskin gets a spokes-thing

6/21–VIDEO: Why webinars are a waste of time

6/1–VIDEO: Has Don sold his soul to the Devil?

5/23–VIDEO: A message to, well, you know who you are

5/14–VIDEO: Twit, Tweet, Twitter?

5/5–Don unloads on Google

2/24–The sweatsuit answer to Kaiser, or Medicare Part The Deux

2/16–What's wrong with Kaiser?

12/4–What’s as rare as a Raiders touchdown? Laskin knows

10/19–Why Dave prefers vanilla

10/1–God's will -- and other reasons

8/17–AUDIO: Hierarchy of stupid

5/25–AUDIO: Some calm words about a world in PANIC!!

4/28–AUDIO: Why CEOs can ignore everything – except Facebook

4/6–With friends like these…

1/19–When perception is reality -- except when it isn't

12/9–AUDIO: Chased by the devil

10/29–AUDIO: Sine qua non a rant it would not be Don

10/20–AUDIO: Joe the writer, er, Don

10/2–AUDIO: Perp Walk Inc.

2/25–AUDIO: Why people put up with crummy jobs

2/10–AUDIO: Making clients money with advertising

1/2–Tiny weiners on toothpicks

12/19–AUDIO: Don improves with age, he says

12/6–AUDIO: Why telecommuting gardeners are needed

10/1–Don Laskin – Almost human?

7/8–Counting, if not connecting, the dots

5/3–Is your advertising stuck in a silo? So is Don

2/5–It's deja vu all over again for Don

9/10–Observations: Laskin faced end with courage

7/14–Observations Why Don Laskin’s ex-boss hiked up her skirt

6/16–Observations They're baaaack! And don't say you weren't warned

4/28–Be careful what you wish for

4/17–Did somebody just say something?

3/8–Laskin makes his first annual “Moron of the Month” Award*

2/15–Our man Laskin reports from a UFO

1/30–Laskin pioneers podcast idea

1/11–Veteran podcaster Don Laskin offers advice

1/3–The Logic of Illogic (Part 2)

12/16–Festivus greetings

11/15–An easy death

8/22–Autistic Cows


7/14–Making a Better Than Human Human

7/4–A tool of capitalism

6/26–Position Heal thyself. -- Plus: Useful information. For real. No kidding

6/25–Life is Like a box of chocolates with no “i” in team

5/15–A $1,000 fine and five days in jail

4/23–Is spending money on advertising a waste?



A $1,000 fine and five days in jail

by Don Laskin
May 15, 2005

Drove me crazy. That thing I was supposed to do. Put out the cat? Don’t have one. Call a client? Don’t have a cat or a client. It just kept gnawing and gnawing, an uneasy feeling like hot peppers and cold beer – too many of one and way too much of the other. Then just before dawn, I remembered – kind of.

And, I suppose YOU never forget anything – like putting on your pants. Or taking the baby off the roof of the car. Or pulling your resume out of the office copier. Or that you’re married. Like you’re sooo perfect.

Well, not all of us are as wonderful as you. That’s why it finally dawned on me around dawn that I had jury duty. So, I woke my wife to tell her to remind me when she woke up after she fell asleep again after getting over being angry that I woke her up to look for the summons.

California is the third state where I’ve been called to sit on a jury -- which should give you some idea of the condition of our justice system. I should explain for anyone who’s never been called how jury duty works. A letter comes about two months before the actual date. This gives you plenty of time for making excuses why you can’t serve. Like jury duty conflicts with your shock therapy or since you did a stretch at Jolliet, courtrooms make you nervous. Or you have an impossible time deciding between chocolate and vanilla, so how are you supposed to decide between guilty and innocent? Or I won’t serve and YOU can’t make me!

Personally, I don’t have to make excuses. Courts always offer me a free pass because of the hundreds and hundreds of people dependent on me for their livelihoods. There are checkers and stockers at Safeway and reps and repair people at SBC and our garage mechanics (We own a Ford Taurus, so without us, their business would be teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.).

While I don’t claim to be indispensable or anything, without me, The Lone Writer is The None Writer. Therefore, an awful lot of people face huge financial hardship when I take time off to serve on a jury. But, you know, sometimes, we have to give back to America unselfishly and without reservation. That’s why I decided I would squarely face my civic responsibility. Besides, I might get stuck with a high-profile case and write a best-seller and there would be movie rights and foreign rights and a percentage of DVD sales and I would be rich, rich, rich and never have to write another Observation!

Thursday morning: The birds were singing, the sun was shining, the kids were griping (about school), the little woman was reminding. The summons was right where I filed it two months before. I gave it to my wife, who reads all official documents before telling me where to sign, and went off to brush my teeth.

The shriek could be heard down the hallway and out to the street, across the street and up the road, over the road through the woods, behind the old mill and skimming the river. When it hit the mountains it echoed back alerting me something might possibly be amiss. “You were supposed to be on jury duty starting MONDAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!”

Monday? Monday!!! This was Thursday. Get a hold. Get a hold. What could they do to me anyway? “A thousand dollar fine and five days in jail! That’s what they can do,” my wife said in a voice somehow reminiscent of Howard Dean after losing the Iowa Caucuses. My mind leaped back to the case of Jerry Weingarten.

When he was a student in college, Weingarten received a ticket for speeding. Believing the judge would look favorably upon a lad seeking to better himself through higher education, Jerry showed up wearing his school jacket with a load of books under his arm. Examining this youthful scholar throwing himself on the mercy of the court, remorse and clean-cuttedness oozing from every pore, the jurist peered down from his high bench, “Ninety dollars or ninety days in jail!” Jerry looked like he’d been poleaxed with a heavy pole (a wrestler from Krakow maybe) as his legs sagged and he reached for his wallet and all the money he had in the world.

I could see my story playing out in a similar fashion. There’d be a slow news day at a high-profile trial. One reporter covering the trial would hatch a story about the jury pool being depleted and people choosing to ignore their service. The story would pick up momentum and evolve into a scandal of major proportions. The public would demand a scapegoat. Some bright do-gooder would initiate a Google search for scapegoat and BAM, up would jump my name (I couldn’t believe it the first time I put “scapegoat” in a Google search and saw my name. It’s true. Try it if you don’t believe me.). They’d send me before a hanging judge, maybe Weingarten’s judge’s son and I’d get the max. Okay, the five days in jail wouldn’t be so bad. After all I have two teenage daughters. But, a thousand bucks!

I didn’t have time to consider a plan of action. I had to take my younger daughter to school. As I dropped her off, she asked earnestly, “Are you going to jail?” I looked deeply into her eyes. I wasn’t sure whether I saw concern or whether she was thinking she’d get permanent custody of the new laptop. Finally, I opted for concern. “Don’t worry, Baby, they’ll never take me alive.” Okay, so I only told her not to worry.

When I got home I phoned the number on the summons. I didn’t just phone. I FRANTICALLY phoned. There was a recording with six possibilities. None involved being able to beg for mercy from a human. Again, I had to leave, this time for my Achilles tendon rehab. I handed my wife the computer and the Court’s URL and said softly, ”H E L P!”

I welcomed rehab, its agonizing pain providing a brief respite from terrible thoughts of courts and judges. After the session, while setting a follow-up appointment, I told the therapist the stupid thing I’d done and asked if she made house calls to prison. She smiled knowingly. HER idiot husband had jury duty this same week and didn’t remember till Monday night -- though the summons was posted on their refrigerator for the previous two months. This guy, with a far more advanced filing system than mine, had also managed to forget. Clearly, here was a dummy whose degree of attention deficit disorder was very near my own. Misery loving company, I immediately felt better. But this was short-lived. Monday night the guy had remembered to check online to see if he was supposed to report. He was: Tuesday. By a whisker he’d avoided who knows what. This was Thursday. I had not checked in the entire week. My whole being was enveloped by dark clouds of dread and doom, and I was unhappy.

I considered making a run for Mexico, but their border security being tighter than ours it was hopeless, so I drove home…the long way. As I opened the door, my wife said, “You’re 705.” Seven–oh-five? What was that? Code for people who said they would serve, but totally forgot and would soon be $1,000 poorer and have a rap sheet? Or should I be coming back with, oh yeah, well you’re a bigger 705 than I’ll ever be. “You’re in group 705. Your number hasn’t come up…yet.” That meant I hadn’t missed anything. The court system didn’t have a clue I’d cut court.

Checking the court’s website Friday morning, the message read: You are excused. Thank you for your services to the court this week. You will receive a one year exemption.

Hold on now! I was thanked for doing…NOTHING!!! I beat the system. YES!!! Now, you’d think this would be a good place to end this Observation with the observation, “When you do things right, they come out wrong and when you do everything wrong, it comes out right.” No moral. Just an observation. But, hey, I can’t end here because there is more.

My brother, who happens to share the same last name, has jury duty this week. Not being attention-deficit-disorder challenged as I, he checked the website the Friday before he was to begin serving. First thing Monday, he has to be in court. Now, had he been Don and I Stan or the other way ‘round, I Stan and he Don…. I think this is a good place to end.


Don Laskin is a veteran of the advertising and public relations jungle. Reach him at Or give him a call at (408) 406-3574.

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