Friday, September 24, 2010


Jury duty started with a stroll through a metal detector.
"It's just like going on vacation," I said to the security guard.
"But you get leave your shoes on," he countered. Obviously he'd heard that one before.
Potential jurors greet each other with phrases such as, "this must be the place," "we're the early birds huh?" and "can I scooch by?"
There were only 20 jurors when we were called to line up to be checked in which I found strange given that when I'd called the night before the message was that jurors in groups 1 through 25 had to report and "all other groups" were canceled. I was just working out the math: 20 jurors for 25 groups means 1.25 jurors per group, when the woman next to me, the one who'd "scooched," waved her postcard around like it was a golden ticket and exclaimed that she was in group 33 and in a perfect Clerks delivery announced that she's "not even supposed to be here today." Then, because stupidity is rewarded (it's just like you feared), she got to go to the front of the check in line.
You have to wonder about people who don't bring any reading material, just a cup of coffee, to jury duty. Are they just really optimistic about not having to serve? Are they hoping the jury holding pen will have some really good magazines (it didn't)? Are they really deep thinkers who don't need external stimuli or are they just blank slates?
In the waiting room we all got to covertly check out what each of us had brought to read and, and based on what we saw, make broad assumptions about each other. The woman with the Whole Foods water bottle was reading "Eat, Pray, Love" and by the looks of it our heroine was still in Italy. A skinny woman was reading a novel called, appropriately, "Skinny." The man who's hair and beard were half dyed read was reading a Tom Clancy novel. He later admitted to being bumped off a previous jury because he had long hair. A woman in a gold lamé dress told us that she'd been picked for jury duty exactly three years from the day she last served.
By 9:15 the coffee drinkers were finished with their java but each was clutching his or her disposable cup - staring intently at it - and presumably pondering the meaning of life.
The sound of the jury waiting room is a mix of chip bags being opened and of carbonation being released from soda bottles. Did no one have breakfast? Isn't it a little early in the morning for Fresca? It's the sound of a wrinkled dollar bill being repeatedly fed into the tired-looking snack machine and jettisoned out again and again and again. Enough times to make you want to giggle uncontrollably, the way you used to at Christmas Eve candle light services with your sister, sniggering until your mother looked over with "the disapproving glance" - the one that said "you're not being very Christian" making you want to reply, "you should be happy your adult daughters get along so well" or better yet, "I'm not even supposed to be hear today."

song: Guilty • artist: Bee Gees

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