Holding Court

Hello, everyone! I am going to do something I have never done on my BLORG in the seven years (yes! seven! see my entry of 12 December, where I note my anniversary!) it has been in existence. I am going to live blo(r)g, so you will get a blow-by-blow (down, boys) account of the events of my day. And as you can see from yesterday’s entry, I am at jury duty today, so it’s not just like an ordinary day, when I’d show you my lunch and a dog or a dog eating my lunch or my lunch eating a dog.
So! Because I am an obsessive sort (I know this shocks you), prone to worrying so much that I drive everyone who will listen even crazier than I’ve already driven myself, I decided I would get a head start on everyone else and arrive at the courthouse early, so I could secure a seat by an outlet in order to use Jeremy (my laptop). Well, I not only arrived an hour early but was the very first person to enter the room, and lo and behold, a seat was available right next to an outlet. And not only was it by an outlet, but it was (is) in a single row, so no one would be on my left and anyone on my right would be separated from me by an aisle about five feet wide. This is just like being on the bus, when I scurry to secure one of the single seats on the driver’s side so I don’t have to become intimately acquainted with the insides of another passenger’s ear canal.
Speaking of Canal, the courthouse is a hop, skip, and sashay from Canal Street, so I may be able to have lunch in Chinatown or stop at Pearl River Mart if the break is long enough. And here I thought being forced into jury duty was going to suck ass like cah-ray-zee!
The guy in charge of the room (Room 1121! Stop by! Tell them I asked for you!) is a genial white-haired fellow with the kind of New York accent most of you probably think I have but don’t, but which I can approximate with just the flip of a switch on the control panel located on my hip. He told us we can eat and drink but not to make a mess and to deposit our “refuse” in one of the large trashcans in the room. So far, so good.
I still object to having to be here, though, Asian food and Pearl River Mart notwithstanding.
The “festivities” will soon begin, including a “delightful documentary”. Yes, these are the words of the white-haired fellow. I may have a mini-crush on him by day’s end. Stay tuned.
8:45:  The “movies” are beginning. I am holding out for Last Tango in Paris and Little Darlings. Little brochures and pamphlets and such, describing/explaining everything having to do with jury duty, are available on a table at the front of the room. “Information is good,” Mr. WhiteHair said. “But you have to actually get up and get it.” I will get mine when I go up to give them my summons, so I can later educate you on some of the more technical points of jury duty. After all, I live to serve!
9:00:   The room is probably about 90% full. This is the same “movie” as I saw in 2003. Diane Sawyer’s hair is more honey blonde than it is now and shorter. Her lipstick is a bit too red. A man tried to sit in front of me, placing his cigarette-reeky down coat on the seat back in front of me. ‘Ugggh!” I said. And he moved. I would like to think he heard me, but I realize that he only wanted to get a good seat for the riveting flick. He was replaced by a sweet-looking little woman with a pleasant cup of coffee in a red cup. I keep worrying that people can hear my computer through my headphones and keep removing one side to make sure no sound is seeping out to disturb anyone else. Too bad some cretin near me doesn’t extend the same courtesy. Ahoy!
9:38:  A personable judge greeted and welcomed us and made some rather humorous remarks about how we probably reacted when we received our summonses. He, too, has white hair. They are collecting the summonses now. People who shouldn’t be here for whatever reason (more explanation later! when I educate you!) have already left, and those of us bums who are still eligible are filing up to the front desk to meet Mr. WhiteHair in person! I am all agog! Should I ask for his autograph? Or he … for mine?`
9:45:  They have my summons now. We filed up in two lines, broken down in clumps (like blood clots!) by initial letter of our last names, and I got to be face-to-face with Mr. WhiteHair. (The other guy also had white hair. Is this a job requirement?) “You’re going to have a delightful time,” he told me. I raised my eyebrow and said, “Not bloody likely,” like Sid Vicious.
10:18:  Mr. WhiteHair is seriously funny. He actually got guffaws from the crowd. I even laughed aloud despite myself and despite wanting to wield an enormous cleaver and hack off the hands of those people who raised them when he asked, earlier, if anyone was really excited about being here. I thought I would be able to just come back and jot down the one or two funny things he might have said, but when it became apparent that this guy has a shtick five miles long (hello, Sailor!), I realized it would be futile to recount all of them. He inadvertently called the “vibrate” setting on a cell phone the “stun”, which made me chortle, thus setting the stage for the more vibrant laughs I would allow to escape later.
10:38:  The girl in front of me just asked if she could share the outlet, and because I already liked her for only having a pleasant cup of coffee and not a cigarettey coat, I allowed her to plug her laptop into the outlet. I even moved my plug to the outlet closer to my chair! I am nothing if not accommodating. Her laptop has a power-pack sort of thing that looks like it’s from the Neolithic Era, but I like her because we also just “bonded” over not wanting to be here in the least and being terribly stressed about it, so I will not belabor the clunkiness of her technology.
One funny thing Mr. WhiteHair said earlier was that in case anyone doesn’t have a laptop or a book or a newspaper, there are magazines and books left behind by past jurors, and we can avail ourselves of them. Now, if you’re stupid enough not to bring something to do while you’re here, you really don’t deserve any form of distraction other than twiddling your thumbs or counting the ceiling tiles, but this man was more generous than I. “We even have the Encyclopedia Brittanica,” he said, “so if you don’t have a laptop, you can still find out anything you want to know … provided it happened before 1986.”
11:32:  I just finished watching the “Greenzo” episode of 30 Rock. Yes, I am still on Season Two, so don’t tell me about anything that happened after this episode or in Season Three. Oh, and as far as this court thing goes, nothing has happened so far. Mr. WhiteHair has several copies of the magazine American Juror (or something like that) and invited us to peruse back copies in case we want to catch up. I am still finding him funny. I know this will end when my name is eventually called for something “real” today.
1:40:  I am back in the waiting room, which, I might add, is appointed with burgundy pleather-like chairs that are very very easy on the bum. I had to actually do something other than sit around looking pretty and smirking, so I went, just after noon, with about half of the room to a courtroom, where the fate of a man was to be determined by a group to be whittled down from those of us herded in there. I was excused on the grounds of “being way too fabulous” and “too pretty to be a juror”. Upon arriving back in this room, Mr. WhiteHair told us we could go out for lunch and to be back here by 2:00. That left me an hour and a half to commit the crime of my choice off the premises of the courthouse.
I cannot tell you exactly what I did with my crime time, but I can tell you that when I wasn’t busy _____ (insert your favorite criminal activity), I was at Jaya, a Malaysian restaurant, taking iPhone photos of my crispy vegetarian spring rolls (six little guys) and tofu with string beans and obligatory white rice, none of which was the best food ever to grace my stomach, but which felt like lunch enjoyed while playing hooky, which of course lent a certain sort of giddy air to the whole undertaking.
During the initial rounds of questioning, the judge (also white-haired!) asked if anyone had ever been the victim of a crime. Several people shared brief tales of woe, and when we thought we’d heard it all, one older woman with an indeterminate accent, who had spoken up earlier to say that she had a doctor’s appointment the next day, asked, “Can I say something else, Lady?” I have never heard anyone sound more like Rosario from Will & Grace (I just had to Google that, and it took about three years for imdb.com to load) (I was “praying” that it would load before I remembered the name, so I wouldn’t feel like all my hard work was for naught!). Lady told her that she’d already spoken up, but Fauxsario insisted on speaking her mind.
“I was mugged on Third Avenue in 1972, between ___ and ___ Streets at around 3:30 in the afternoon.” She then related more details of her story, all of which sounded like the Peanuts adults (I was trying to affect the bored appearance of a bad prospective juror), and added, “And that is why I became an American citizen!” I don’t think there was a jaw that wasn’t slack for the duration.
3:00:  I just shoulder-laughed my way through 1-1/2 episodes of 30 Rock, including the one entitled “Cougars”. I have a can of Diet Coke that cost only 75 cents from a vending machine in an alcove at the back of the room. I am wearing new boots. I had tofu for lunch. I just knocked the shellacked wooden wall to my left that my good fortune will continue.
3:23:  And … freedom! Done for the day! I do not object!