Thursday, December 02, 2004

Jury Duty - We all get it, we all hate it

Jury duty is a funny animal. Some don’t seem to mind appearing for it, while others, you would think they were about to have a tooth pulled.

It’s been about 2 years since I was last called and how things have changed. First you get to put everything you brought with you onto a conveyor belt and have it X-rayed. Just as much fun as the airports. But it gets better. As I walked through the metal detector I beeped. Ok ok, take out the change in my pocket and put my cell phone in the bowl….beep…alrighty remove bracelets and watch and put them into the bowl….beep. Oh for the love of all that’s holy hell what is it? “Please step over here and extend your arms…” Now I have to have a woman who looks like she’s used one too many steroid shots swipe a hand held detector over my body…beep. What the..?! Turns out it was my shoe, which was recently repaired and had metal tacks in the heel. I am clean and my bowl is handed back to me….I had to end up using the Tupperware bowl that looked like a dogs drinking dish.

Up to the clerk I go and hand in my little sheet in which I have indicated that I appointments that have been on my schedule since June that I must keep. The clerk looks up and says to me “So did you want an excusal or a postponement?” I look back at her and blinked. Does she really have to ask that question? I guess so because she’s waiting for an answer, “Well excusal I…” doesn’t even wait for me to finish my sentence “Oh never mind” and stamps some papers and hands my jury duty instructions “they won’t even keep you.” I blinked at her again “Are you sure? I hate to wait and find out that they are going to keep me with my appointments and all.” She pats my hand (I was shocked..a public employee touched me. Should I be shocked at the human compassion or shocked over wondering did she wash her hands after using the public bathrooms here?) “Trust me you won’t.” So I go off to sit down thinking to myself ‘well if they do keep me I already have a viable excuse to whomp on her.’

Everyone is checked in, the strip searches are over and the waiting game begins. It’s funny to watch folks. Some read, other sit and stare straight ahead almost fearful that making eye contact with anyone will ensure them a spot on the dreaded jury panel. You have the "I'll pretend I'm reading while listening in on the conversations around me", then there's the "Leaner" he/she leans forward, then leans back...leans to the side...and just about drives those next to them NUTS! There are always at least 2 blue haired old ladies that instantly gravitate towards each other and whip out their knitting. I never see these two again, but I am convinced that at some point their yarn has become mingled together and they are now working on the same afghan. I must say the styles of waiting haven't changed in years.

It's now 9:45am and I of course am starving. But wait there's an announcement. Out of 4 panels one will be excused who will it be...THE envelope please! I'm on group 'D', Madge sitting next to me is on 'A' and Anthony on my other side is on 'C'. I break out my MP3 player and begin to sing along to my favorite tunes, outloud. How was I to know that I would upset the jury clerks who were making announcements at the same time?
Well we found out we'd be waiting yet some more. Then there's always that nice lady next to you who INSISTS on showing you pictures of her grandchildren. You smile politely and say sure.

But then inwardly cringe as she reaches in to what you *thought* was a sewing bag, and whips out a photo album. All 203 pages of it. Well that was it for me! I headed to the back where there's tables to sit at. I plop my happy buns down, greet the other 3 there, take out my deck of cards and announce "Poker anyone?!" I must warn you, this is a mistake...never ask to play poker in a courthouse. So we settled for rummy. We hear the crackle of the PA and like dogs all cock our ears to hear what will be said. "Will the owner of a white Honda license plate XXXXX please move your car? You are parked in Judge Kramers space." Everyone laughs, this is too funny, but it has to be done… I get up go out and move my car. Hey it wasn't marked! Well ok there WERE those yellow lines... I would say sue me but I'm afraid I would have gotten jumped. Well it seems while I was moving my car, my group was summoned upstairs to the courtroom. Well won't this be fun.

I'll just sneak in, they surely haven't started yet. I was in luck they were taking notes of who was present. I explained to the bailiff why I was late, that's when I saw it... yes, the name plate on the judges podium...Judge Kramer himself. Of course he asked why I was late, so I did the honorable thing, and perjured myself and said I got separated from my group. They gave us the case details, it was a criminal thing. So I was excused. And my duty was served until next time.