When I got my jury summons, I was extremely excited. I paraded it about the house and proudly proclaimed that it was my time to do my civic duty. If you really think about it, Americans only have 4 duties: Pay taxes, keep a valid photo ID card, vote, and serve as a juror when summoned. I had done everything but serve as a juror, so here was my chance to become a full participant in my government and my justice system!
Please stay your laughter, I didn’t know.
I didn’t necessarily have high expectations, but I did have some expectations. I expected jury duty to be a formal event. I expected to sit in the jury room for a few minutes or maybe an hour or so before I was summoned to a court room. I expected to be questioned by several attorneys and maybe chosen for a jury. If the guy was an obvious criminal, I expected to pack him off to jail and go home, satisfied with my public service.
Okay, maybe I did have high expectations.
In actuality, my day began at 5AM. When presentable, I piled into my car and made the long haul downtown. I live on the outskirts of one of the 5 biggest cities in Florida, you can imagine what downtown looks like. So I hauled ass clear the hell down there and parked in a huge parking garage. I followed everyone to security where I shoved my crap in bins to be scanned and looked through. The button of my jeans tripped the metal detector, so I got a pat down. No big, just reminded me a lot of the airport. I made my way to the jury room and plopped down in my seat, awaiting my summons.
That summons came at about… quarter to never. I was expecting quite a few people to show up because numbers 3-608 were called. Being number within 8 numbers of the final number, I was sure that some major juries were going to be called. Well guess what? 400 assholes got excused. There were only 200 people there and I was bored out of my damn mind. Two juries were called several hours apart and the closest food was a vending machine.
I planned ahead for all of those difficulties, but I was struck with the dreaded airport terminal syndrome. You know when you are travelling and sitting in an airport waiting for your flight, trying to read a book or do anything but worry about your flight, but you can’t, because you can’t concentrate on anything besides how anxious and bored you are? It exists in the jury room and it’s contagious. The next thing you know:
everyone is staring at each other outright like Nicholas Cage, not even caring if it is socially acceptable or not. The staring is only interrupted by sighs and moans of “I’m so bored, hungry, and tired… Get me the hell out of this place for the love of…”
And of course, the room had a few of those people. There was a guy making business power plays on his phone (like we cared about any big company he was devouring). Some lady got a call every 5 seconds and walked all around the jury room yelling “HELLO?!? HELLO?!?! CAN YOU HEAR ME?!?” Yes, we can fucking hear you but there are 23 fucking floors of concrete above your head, do you really think cell service is possible here? Mr. No-Shower, Lady Crazy Eyes, Madam Obnoxious Laugh… the joy.
To be fair, the courthouse was nice. The furniture was comfortable, the staff was nice, and everything was easy to find. If they could find a way to eliminate the ATS hanging in the air, that would be great but it might be out of their control. And they let us leave before 5.
In the future, I will remember to bring my bag of stuff to do, but I will know I won’t be able to do a single damn thing. I will have realistic expectations and write the day off as lost forever. But most of all, I’ll hope that I don’t get summoned for a long time. If I do, I’ll pray extra hard to get selected for a jury.