As the Casey Anthony case went to jury last week the subject came up in conversation a few times among friends. I just kept saying the same thing, "She'll get off." To which I was usually met with exaggerated looks of the you're crazy variety. Followed by dismissive banter.
Not that I thought she should be found 'not guilty' but it seemed clear to me that this was bound to be the outcome. And as the decision came down it reminded me, like everyone else, of the OJ Simpson verdict - which I also called correctly.
I was working at a local NPR station at the time and the news room was abuzz with OJ verdict predictions. Some said 1st degree-1st degree, others said 2nd-2nd and still others came up with a combination of the two.
I am the only one in that room that said, "He'll get off."
As the verdict was read there were a lot of stunned looks on my co-workers faces. Disbelief had paid a visit to the room as they had prepared a show focused on a guilty man.
A few minutes later one of the news producers asked me how I knew so emphatically. I simply shrugged, "Because I ride the bus."
It's true. Liberal as one may be you can not get a real sense of OJ's jury of peers sitting on the freeway isolated in a BMW completely disconnected with the community that occupied those 12 seats bearing witness to endless months of testimony and damning evidence.
I own a car but I love public transportation. I take the bus whenever possible. And I never listen to my iPod - instead like to listen to and watch people. Yes, it's the freaks I do it for the most but there are tons of great things to sponge up. And it's great for my writing.
Anyway, fast forward to OJ's second trial and about a half hour before the jurors in the civil case came back with their verdict the same producer asked me what the outcome would be this time around...
I replied with the exact same words I had heard a little old black man say on the bus the evening before, "I think OJ got all the love he's gonna get from the judicial system with that last trial."