To cap off my career at the Allegheny County Courthouse, I am praying for some real firecracker theatrics.
I want the prosecutor and defense attorney to light the courtroom up with some fist-thumping, melodramatic closing arguments. Like in "A Few Good Men."
I hope a juror takes a stroke and that paramedics are called.
If the defendant could break down sobbing in a heaving fit of tears to confess to the crime, that'd make my last day perfect.
And it'd be great if the judge had a mistress who could barge into the courtroom just before the verdict is announced to proclaim her fatal attraction to him.
But my fictional courthouse fantasy is just that, because what happens in real court -- you seriously can't make that stuff up.
It's been seven years of crazy.
Since I started this job, I've gotten married, had two kids, developed stress-induced seizures and carpal tunnel, and a bunch of my hairs have turned gray.
And people who are tougher, more jaded, more pessimistic than the average Jane.
Court does that to people. Maybe it's hearing the goriest of the gore -- real life gore, I'm talking about -- day in and day out. Not even just your typical rape, murder, robbery stuff either.
I'm talking about supervised-visit child-care swaps that are court ordered to take place at the police station because there's no safer place for violent, feuding parents to do it.
I'm talking about the four-year-old who rides in the back of his mom's car while she deals drugs.
I'm talking about siblings filled with hatred for one another over a lousy couple-hundred-thousand bucks that once belonged to their grandparents.
I'm talking about the young men living in group homes who bludgeon each other daily.
And I'm talking about the culture of power abuse. The miniature dictatorships that develop inside the proverbial Four Corners of the courtroom walls.
These are what slowly chip-chip-chip away at our souls. That diminish our sense that people are generally good.
Call me an optimist.
But I'm escaping to a bubble where I can cup my ears and scream over-top of everyone else, proclaiming that YES, PEOPLE ARE GOOD!
Because if I don't believe in that, then I'm nothing.
So, a fond farewell to all you comrades who are made of tougher, sturdier stuff than I.
You do the good work I can no longer do. You have my utmost respect and admiration.
I'll miss you, and eventually, I'll miss the crazy.
Thanks for the stories and the memories. Hopefully we'll see each other again. Off the record.