@LegalWriter You're correct, I'm not listening, I'm reading. I've already acquiesced to the fact the commissioner is a full-time employee, I don't believe that or that fact it's his/her department to preside over was ever a debate (or even a topic), as the litigants are essentially agreeing to such when neither opts out of the stipulation. "You go there, you don't want that judge, your file you 170.6." agreed, but I don't believe I need to wait, it's my belief I can get to that step without setting foot in court.
Unless I'm mistaken, Rule 2.816 (e) allows me to opt out of having a commissioner or judge pro tem hear my case, assuming I have a reasonable basis for the request, and then the presiding judge assigns the case to a judge without me having to so on the day I go to court, allowing me to research the judge assigned the case and decide if I want to use CCP 170.6 to have a different judge assigned the case, at which point I get the judge I get, all mulligans exhausted.
On a side note, I sat in Small Claims for 4 hours (there's two 4 hour scheduling's 8-12 and 1-5) and the commissioner you ARE assigned to may not be the one who hears your case, they readily farm nearly half the cases out to another department. In San Diego courtroom C-63 gets assigned the majority of the cases every day on the calendar, but courtroom C-62 took half those cases, even though it isn't listed as one of the courtrooms handling any of the Small Claims cases (it appears to handle mostly name changes and restraining orders). So, if you do some homework with regard to the commissioner hearing your case, its very possible he/she wont actually be the one you appear before.
Another massive misconception is you only have 15-20 minutes to state your case. This is patently false and one factor that really concerned me. When I sat in Small Claims for 4 hours, only 2.5 cases were heard. The first case took 2 hours with no decision immediately rendered and in the second case a decision was rendered on the spot after just 45 minutes, no 30-60 day wait. The third case only got as far as the Plaintiff stating her side and was continued for the Defendant to state his after she took over an hour. The idea you only get 15-20 minutes isn't necessarily true.