Community Service

“There’s one thing I think you should understand, ma’am,” George Salazar rose from the wooden chair in a two-toned double-breasted suit he bought just for the occasion. “I’m not looking at this court appearance as a trial. I see it as a job opportunity.”

The prosecutor, Jane Warren, steepled her fingers and gave some major side-eye to Judge Laurel Clemons. They both claimed Syracuse as their alma maters.

“I see, Mr. Salazar,” said Judge Clemons. “You may continue.”

George had long ago waived his right to an attorney. This was part of his plan. He used a red paisley bandanna to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

“See, now here’s the thing. I…I never wanted to be a criminal. Honest to God,” he did that heart-crossing thing he saw some religious people do. It always seemed like some video game cheat code brought to life. “I tried to play it by the books. I went to school, I studied hard, then I dropped out. But I never had a goal in life until — ”

“Objection, Your Honor. Relevance?” Warren had just returned from a long romantic weekend in the Catskills and was in a salty mood.

George bit his bottom lip and flared his nostrils. He had a tendency to stammer.

“Overruled,” Judge Clemons said. She’d slammed six paracetamol with a Pepto chaser upon waking. She counted down the hours until the weekend. “Get to the point, Mr. Salazar.”

“Okay. So, the point is I had been jaywalking for, like, several weeks. I did it with reckless abandon. I…I openly admit it. It’s true. But no police officer ever stopped me to write me a ticket. I didn’t even get a warning. That’s when I knew I needed to up the ante.”

“It says here you were arrested for vandalizing a public fountain, Mr. Salazar.”

“That is correct. I peed in it.”

“Why on earth would you do that?”

“Because jaywalking wasn’t working.”

“I’m sorry,” Jane held up her hand like a traffic guard. “But can you explain to the court your reason for committing such a flagrant act?”

“Sure. I would like to formally request community service.”

“This is preposterous. I — ”

“Order, order,” Judge Clemons said in an absentminded tone. She looked up from her phone, wincing at some of the texts she had sent the night before. Her pounding migraine precluded using the gavel. “Ms. Warren has a point, Mr. Salazar. You have admitted to breaching the peace in exchange for community service. Why?”

“It’s a bit embarrassing, Your Honor.” George blushed and crossed and uncrossed his legs while standing. He rocked a bit like he needed to pee.

“Try me, Mr. Salazar.” Judge Clemons thought of that saucy 2 a.m. message to her massage therapist: Next time you can tie me up before you oil me down wink wink wink


“Truth is, I’ve always wanted to pick up trash. Like, professionally speaking.”

Warren fake-coughed and began to doodle onto her legal pad.

“Problem is,” George continued, undeterred, “Is that there just ain’t no proper opportunities for a man to pick up trash professionally, because all these kinds of good jobs have been outsourced to sex offenders and violent criminals and the like. I mean, I can’t even apply for this kind of job no more. Trust me, I looked everywhere.”

“Am I hearing you correctly, Mr. Salazar, when you state that picking up trash is your…dream job?” She took a sip of water. “Please note in the record that Mr. Salazar nodded vigorously yes.”

“Your Honor, the prosecution recommends Mr. Salazar pay a fine of $1,500 in addition to time already served, as he is a first time offender.”

“I’ll do it again,” George warned, in an ominous tone. “Please, you’ve got to let me do this. Look,” he reached into his ragged attaché case and pulled out an orange and yellow reflective vest. “This isn’t some hobby, okay? I’m ready to do this!”

“On second thought, Your Honor, perhaps we should hold Mr. Salazar for a psych evaluation upon further view.”

“Hey! I’m more than qualified here!”

“Mr. Salazar, you willfully peed — ”

“Call me George.”

Mr. Salazar, you willfully peed in a public fountain and ask that this court rewards your indecent behavior with community service! Children play near that fountain!”

“That’s enough, Ms. Warren.” Judge Clemons nearly raised her voice. “Mr. Salazar, I’m prepared to give you your community service. Be advised, however, that this is not a trial for a job. There shall be no renumeration, and you would have been wise to have volunteered for any cleanup activities in your neighborhood. Your lack of judgment in this regard should give you serious pause…”

come by for a sesh 2nite. we’ll work out all the kinks ;)

“Your Honor?”

“Er, as I was saying, if I find you back in my courtroom for another misdemeanor, Mr. Salazar, rest assured you’ll get no mercy from me. Ms. Warren, that’ll be all. Thank you and good day.” She gave a nod and rose. “Court is adjourned.”

George took out his flip phone and rapidly tapped out a text of his own with anxious, sweaty hands: