Serial! Are you listening to it? Hello…my name is Pam….I am addicted to Serial. At least I was…I’m finished listening. But now…I have to write about it. It is fascinating on so many levels that I almost don’t know where to begin. The words swirl in my head… presumption of innocence…beyond a shadow of a doubt….evidence….guilt. Serial is a podcast about a real murder that took place in 1999 in Baltimore Maryland. The victim was an 18 year old female Korean gifted student. The accused was her popular, well liked, good student 17 year old ex-boyfriend. He was sent to prison for LIFE plus 30 years with no hope of parole as long as he maintained his innocence (which he has). The key witness for the prosecution was a recent high school graduate and petty drug dealer. Through his testimony alone, he provided the only evidence that led to the conviction. A journalist, at the request of a friend of the accused, revisited the case to see what she could discover based on the possibility of poor legal representation. It …was…compelling!
For one thing, all parties are the age of my youngest son. I think back to his senior year in high school and I literally cannot imagine that scenario occurring. My heart breaks for all concerned. More than one life was lost in that act of incomprehensible violence. After listening to the podcast, I have a lot more questions than answers. The journalist drags us into her quest for a viable solution amidst her own confusion in the minutia of facts and lies. My reaction to did he or didn’t he swung like a pendulum. If I had been on that jury…I just don’t know. Was he guilty or innocent? I just don’t know. I could go on and on with my questions and my suppositions, but it begs an actual discussion to unravel of some of the tangled threads. Someone knows the truth….I want to know it too.
However, the thing that resonated with me, more than a little, was the fact that we really can’t account for our time in a significant way on any given average day. Think about it. Can you tell me EXACTLY what you did, who you spoke to, what the weather was last Friday? A month ago Friday? If it was a routine day, you can perhaps fill in the gaps with routine activities, but what about specific gaps of time….say a specific 21 minutes of that 24 hour day. If you are by yourself during any part of that time, there is just no way to prove where you were or what you were doing. If you are innocently going about your regular life, there is almost no way to account for your time. Would that friendly face at the grocery store checkout counter remember seeing you? Would the cute young thing at the drive through at Starbucks remember that you were there? Would a friend remember talking with you on the phone or what time exactly they waved to you on the street downtown? Now, thank goodness, we almost never have to do that, but what if we did? Could you? That is exactly the predicament that the accused found himself. That is what put him away for a lifetime. He just couldn’t manage to account for 21 minutes in his young life. Just stop and ponder that one for a minute. I feel frustration for him. I feel injustice for him. I feel panic for him. A bit scary, eh? Time is a commodity that slips through our fingers except when something out of the ordinary happens to stamp it into our memory for us. Our life if filled with time, but what if our life actually depends on being able to account for it? Food for thought…..