Monday, July 10, 2006

Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?

I survived the dreaded jury duty this morning. Someone advised me to postpone it, but it's kinda like ripping off a bandage. The faster you get it done the better.

You talk to some people there who are in their 40s and say, "This is the first time I've ever been called." Then, there's me. I'm in my late 30s and get called up about once a year. How do they determine who gets the Golden Ticket and who doesn't?

Anyhow, being in the jury room is interesting for a people watcher. I often wonder why people choose to do the things they do. What does it say about them? It starts with the clothing they wear.

Some of the younger fellas had fresh-from-the-laundry-pile (I mean, the one that still needs to go to the washer) t-shirts and baggy jeans. Immediately, the phrase about dressing "appropriately for the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings" popped to mind. But these guys looked fresh from bed, so getting them up at 8:00 Monday morning probably strikes them as a little rude. It did for me, at that age.

The older men wore nice button-down shirts and khakis or jeans. Some more suits and chatted loudly on their cells phones. Rearranging meetings, making sales calls, and so forth to keep their careers rolling while they spent a few hours with the justice system. Well, until the judge came in, of course. We were told he's known to take away cell phones and donate them to Goodwill. Might as well drain these fellas' life's blood as do that to them!

I'm one to talk. I was playing a trivia game on mine. I love trivia. No kidding.

The shirt in front of me told a story. The man had neatly-trimmed hair and moustache. Wore nice boots and jeans, with a golf-style shirt. Inside out. The collar was turned out right, but I stared at the tags for a couple of hours. If he's just look down at his buttons, he'd get a big surprise.

There were old ladies in their summer garden clothes. Professional ladies in their office attire. College girls in their sorority mixer t-shirts and flip-flops. Prim ladies in their coordinated outfits, handbags, and shoes. You could tell the ones who thought ahead by their handbags. Big enough to fit magazines and books? Prepared for the long haul. Small and dainty, with nothing in their manicured hands? Well, by the second hour, they looked distressed indeed.

Then there were the grandmas. I wished to be seated by one of them, but no luck. Not only did they engage the people next to them in conversation, but the entire vicinity was having a delightful time. I think they're vacationing together next year.

The guy next to me didn't talk, but made his displeasure at being there and waiting known by occasional fidgets, grunts, groans, and sighs. Either that, or it was hemorroids.

The women next to me spoke briefly, but I immediately wished she hadn't. I offered her some gum.

Then came the news we'd all been waiting for. They would need 198 jurors today. I did a quick count and some math. We had about 280 in the room. About 70 thought they shouldn't be there. My odds kinda sucked.

We took a break while the judge heard the excuses. I went to the restroom and waited again. The ladies room line was out the door, while men came and went from their own restroom. Why is that? Do men just not go as often? Or as long? Someone ought to do a study.... ;o)

A young woman asked me, "So what now? Do we just wait here until they tell us more?"
Yup. She had a tiny handbag.

Back at my chair among the Faithful, the guy in front of me had gone to the restroom, too. I saw him coming back with a goofy grin on his face and his buttons facing the right way. "I had my shirt on wrong," he whispered to the man beside him and laughed.

The Faithful were assigned and they called roll. "Just say 'Here' when your name is called," they said. A handful of dufuses decided to say "Present!" instead. WTF? Did they know it made them look like dufuses? I wonder how they intended it to come across?

I was called to the jury pool for the 140th District Court, which promptly ended in a plea bargain.

Back to the old grindstone and the usual suspects.

Until next year.