At 7:00 this morning I was on my way for what was sure to be a fun-filled day full of promise and wonder--an enriching life experience. One that the Jury Wrangler in the Juror's Lounge informed us 'we would never forget'. (No kidding) One that I am, for some reason, called for every 2 years, while people I know who are dying to do this have never been called in their lifetimes. (Maybe I shouldn't pay my taxes, or drive, or vote....)
The first thing I learned was that regardless what they let you take into the courthouse where they hear traffic cases, and regardless of what you can carry on an airplane....the 'real' courthouse frowns upon scissors of any type, even if they only have 1" blades.
So much for that very carefully packed project case that was thoughtfully stocked to amuse me for a day I expected to spend sitting in an old movie theater chair (minus the cupholder).
So much for the Karen Kay Buckley applique project where I needed to do cutaway applique.
Adios to any of the multiple Sashiko panels I had packed.
After getting over my knee jerk piss off at the security guard writing up a ticket for me to reclaim my $22 Karen Kay Buckley scissors at the end of the day (along with my nail clippers, and the keys that I forgot had a ladies Leatherman attached to), I figured I would just have to chew my thread off the spool in order to work on the Aunt Millie's Garden block I had packed at the last minute (thank heavens for OCD-ly not thinking that I had enough to work on).
As it turned out, there is a small razor blade on the needle threader that Ms-All -That-Security-Guard neglected to spot in her strip search of my sewing kit, so for the 2 hours spent in the 85 degree Jury Lounge (the room that has absolutely nothing 'lounge' going for it), I was able to do a little bit of applique. That is, until me and 49 of my new best buds were sent to a courtroom on the 8th floor---the dreaded Criminal Court.
And what a courtroom it was....95 degrees. Smart phones had to be powered off. Sewing had to be zipped up. And I had to sit through 6 hours of voir dire, as was apparently necessary because --surprise, surprise, surprise--this was going to be a 4 (FOUR, quattro, quatre) day trial.
While I didn't learn much about the judicial system, I did learn a lot about my watch that I stared at for the next 6 hours, including the fact that it's missing a tiny diamond baguette I never noticed was gone--and probably would have been blissfully unaware of....until this afternoon.
I also learned other useful things. Things like...
It doesn't matter whether you arrive an hour early, or on the dot at 8:30 a.m. as your Jury Summons demands....At least 2 dozen people will walk in between 8:45 and 9:00 a.m., and then another half dozen will wander in at quarter past nine (45 minutes late). Nothing will be said to them about their tardiness.
The fact that you're in a courtroom and you need to raise your hand to go to the bathroom, raise your hand to speak, you've sworn an oath and you're reminded how important and serious Jury duty is, it's not as strict as you're being led to believe. When you break for lunch and the Judge tells you that because they are so far behind that we need to cut our lunch hour short and be back by 1:30...he won't come back until 20 minutes after that. And we will sit, not sewing, and smartphone-less in the 90 degree lobby, with the broken drinking fountain, outside the courtroom.
Fainting in said 95 degree courtroom with no access to water or any kind of paper product which can be used as a fan, will not get you excused. It will get you escorted to the lobby on the arm of the Court Clerk with the stenographer following with a wet paper towel to put on your neck. The caboose in this train will be the smarmy defense attorney tailing behind with a paper cup of water he's poured for you from the pitcher on his table (you'd drink that?). When you realize you don't have your purse, the Judge will tell you to leave it, as you'll be back in when you feel better. (Don't get excited, it wasn't me :) )
Nope, the only sure way to get sent home is to wait until everyone is seated and the Judge starts going through his spiel on the history of juries through the centuries. When he finally pauses for breath, you must raise your hand, and before he can cut you off, just blurt out: "Your Honor, would you please turn your microphone on? (it is on) I can't hear a thing you're saying". That will get you called to the bench for a quick tete a tete, and you will be sent directly out the door. You can then wink at the rest of us on your way down the aisle. Funny how we all failed to notice that you were hard of hearing in the Jury Lounge when you were called upon. How insensitive of us.
And finally, as much as they tell you how appreciative they are of your giving up a day of work, your time, the understand what an extreme inconvenience it is, apologetic of the buckets of sweat that are pouring off of you because the A/C in the building won't be turned on until tomorrow...IT'S ALL CRAP. Regardless, you will suffer through 6 hours of doing nothing (or studying your watch) while people wait in line to approach the bench on every freakin' voir dire question fired at them, until 4:00 p.m. when they have seated a jury, for which you are (thankfully) not called because clearly you managed to get crossed off both the defense and prosecution's list of desirable jurors with that first statement you made to them way back at 10 a.m. when you were called to the bench to explain why you didn't feel you could be fair and impartial in this case.
On the bright side, it could have been worse. (I could be back in that courtroom for the rest of the week). I could be the poor woman who sat next to me.....she came so close to making it out. The Jury was finally seated, they'd dismissed a half dozen people for the position of alternate jurors--just when it looked like everyone was agreed, and she breathed a sign of relief because her number was up next, the smarmy defense attorney decided to reject the last man seated. Defeated, she trudged to the Jury box. As the Judge asked one more time if the Defense was fine with the selections, he turned to her, gave her a big smarmy smirk and said he was swell with everyone. (Did I mention that she was an attorney? )
My favorite part of the day? That was when I turned in my ticket at the security checkpoint to reclaim my scissors, nail clippers and keys at the end of the ordeal. Ms-All -That-Security-Guard, who took them from me that morning, smiled and said 'I guess you were bored all day, not being able to sew'. I just looked her in the eye, smiled and said, 'Oh, no problem....it all worked out. Apparently I also had a razor blade in my sewing kit that you missed, so I was able to use that to cut my thread'. Priceless!