Jury duty: a purgatory of the damned, an exercise in boredom. All we can do is sit, most folks keeping to themselves, guarded or hiding in a book. We piled into the civil courts building at 8:am, at which point they herded us up to the mezzanine level—We sprawled out on the floor, in chairs and leaned against the walls like refugees with no where to go. Televisions are set up throughout to remind us that we’re doing our civic duty; as if being forced to sit in a mindless sate of eternal waiting is a privilege. If it wasn’t 2008 I’d swear it was 1984 and Big Brother himself were speaking to us. This propaganda is broken up with bits and pieces of day time television, adding insult to injury.
As if waiting all day in a hot room with windows that don’t open isn’t bad enough, now I have to listen to Regis and Dr. Phil.
Some are excited to have the opportunity to serve their city, country, etc. They make a point to dress well, a little American flag pinned to their lapel. These are also, most likely, the people who voted for Bush twice and adorn their SUV’s with yellow ribbon magnets and pro-life stickers. Some are merely excited for a day off. Others curse the world for their lost paycheck and unpaid bills, as they live in an hourly wage world that doesn’t care about their civic duty. Me, I have deadlines, I have shit to do. My company doesn’t care that I’ve been forced into public service. The wonderful world of upscale Swiss luggage does not stop turning because the government wants me to judge my fellow man.
This means that I’ll sit here all day waiting for my number to be called, then spend the evening hunched over my computer, ignoring my wife and dog writing bullet points about gusseted front pockets and key fobs.
It’s a day of hurry up and wait. Last time I was called for jury duty I was the very last number picked. Today I was the first.
They marched us out into the cold January day, like a chain gang without the shackles, my city’s downtown looking as dead as ever. They stuffed us to over capacity in an elevator (then proceeded to add two more obese potential jurors for good measure) then left us to sit in another room, another purgatory.
Ten minutes later, the bailiff returns to tell us the defendant pleaded guilty, and we need to take our Bataan death march back across the street so we can hurry up and wait some more.
In a perfect world they would have sent me home, but Barry Bonds holds the home run record, Bush was elected twice, the war is still being waged in Iraq, Paris Hilton is a celebrity, Pop music is still being (over) produced and reality TV is going strong, so it’s clear; ours is a world far from perfect.
I wonder what their policy is on showing up after lunch break, blind stinking drunk…I wonder if that would get me out of jury duty. A friend once filled her jury summons out with a crayon, she was never asked back. If only I had a box of 64…
If they knew what a bitter, cynical, over opinionated, angry liberal I am, perhaps they wouldn’t keep calling me in for this long exercise in forced patience. If they knew how much of a liability I would be to both defense and prosecutor, perhaps I would be home now, petting my dog and surfing internet porn…
But I’m back in purgatory, cursing the government, wishing I hadn’t left my iPod at home. Wishing they’d go ahead and officially label me crazy, and therefore, unfit to ever serve on any jury, ever again.
Wishing they would just call my god damned number already.