I just completed day one of jury duty. There must have been at least 100 people in the jury assembly room this morning. We watched a short video about the jury selection process and then we were free to sit for hours, until our name was called. I managed to keep myself preoccupied with work all morning; copying over all of the website files to the new site. We broke for lunch, a generous hour and a half. I am amazed at how many new restaurants there are in the skyways. It’s like a little, elevated city flowing with suits, long cues at all the soup & sandwich places, all abuzz during lunch rush. The afternoon was very long since I ran out of work and I just didn’t feel like starting a new book.
9am. I am ready to hear my name. I hope that, at least, the case is interesting. Two large groups of people have been called this morning. The judge and the lawyers will question them, apparently in front of the other jurors. That must be really strange to have to disclose personal information in front of complete strangers!
11:40. Apparently I’m not going to be called this morning since lunch time is drawing near. They probably give an hour and a half for lunch to throw you off. I’d much rather get called and get it over with instead of killing time in the skyways. I feel like I have one of those ankle bracelets on that monitor a felon’s whereabouts. I am free to go home, but I need to make an appearance every day, check in, check out, and check back in.
1:37pm. I moved to the “business center” this afternoon, where I plugged in my laptop yesterday, to avoid any unsolicited chatter. It’s quiet in here and it doesn’t smell like stale cigarettes. Fortunately, I am still able to hear the loudspeaker in this room that is just off the main room. I am reading Dan Brown’s “Deception Point”. It’s not exactly a Grisham; a few levels above. It’s an easy read with good character development, and it transports me to another place. I had to buy it again because Frida knocked over some massage oil, soaking the last five chapters beyond legibility.
2:10pm. Still no word. Am I supposed to sit here all day, every day for two weeks? What kind of a silly system do they have for calling jurors? No wonder people dread jury duty.
I hear my name as the loudspeaker cracks. Then I hear it again. I fumble for my things and make my way out of the “business center.” I frantically enter the main room, saying “Here!” so as not to miss my jury call. We lined up in the hallway, waiting to ascend to our jury room where we would be selected. The curly-haired judge called each of us and motioned toward the “comfortable chairs.” We were all seated and asked, in order, a series of general jury-related questions. Next, each potential juror was summoned to the witness chair to answer random questions posed by each lawyer. Some were accepted, based on their possible contribution to the case, and others were indirectly excused. The excused were inevitably sent back to “the pen.”
9am. It could happen today. I could be chosen as an actual juror. The case is slated to end in two days. The remaining potential jurors are given a chance to answer questions on the witness stand. The two potential jurors answered questions asked by the lawyers, abbreviated dialogues meant to speed up the process, since we had to wait for an hour and a half to get started. Fortunately for them, they were the last two chosen, and the three remaining stooges, including me, were sent back to the pen. All the rejects were there, including the ones not chosen and the jurors who had finished their cases. Even though their cases were over, there was still a week and a half left of service. By the end of the day, when we were released early, I felt like a prisoner on “Lost“.
Day Four, Thursday
I sat in the big room today, just to do something different. The two young guys at the next table were babbling about a lot of things, one guy doing all the talking, and the other simply acknowledging with his “ah-hahs.” After the first group was called, without me, I slipped into a pseudo slumber, staying awake with all of the chatter, ring tones, and distant laughter. I opened my eyes at some point and went for my designated five minute break. Fortunately I brought the camera today. I took a number of shots in the skyway with the sun spilling in and people walking briskly to their next engagement. Something to do…edit photos. I read the paper again, just in case I missed something. I meandered into the quiet “business center” with a dog-eared paperback of Othello. I just couldn’t concentrate on the Shakespearean English, so I reverted back to reading “Deception Point” again, just in case I missed something the first time around.
Déjà vu was sweeping over me when lunch was called. Once again, I didn’t make the morning jury cut. Would I be so lucky in the afternoon to be one of the chosen ones? It’s really just a stupid lottery. Yesterday, the odds were definately in my favor since I was among the last 25 people, qualifying for a full group. Sure enough, as soon as the jurors ended their case, they rejoined the pool, as well as several people from the “on call” list. So, I was back at square one, a mere number among many potential jurors.
I was happy to discover that the Royal Orchid, which used to be on “Eat Street”, had a new skyway location. The very animated owner was there too, doling out Thai curries and crispy rolls. I said that I remembered how he used to carve beautiful flowers out of watermelons and cantelopes. I sat down for a quick green curry with vegetables and continued taking skyway photos. Most people were too busy to dodge the photographer, so I had some willing subjects. When I arrived at the pen, I realized that I had forgotten to buy another book. Perhaps I could doze off again. There was only one group called late in the afternoon, but they were sent home because the judge wasn’t ready for them. Surprisingly, the rest of us were given Friday off. We were finally elevated to “on call” status for the following week. I guess that my civic duty was simply to be a potential juror.