Last year, around the time, I had been summoned for jury duty. That was a resounding “Hell, No!” in my mind, and I put it off for 6 months, and then got a medical excuse. Yesterday, the piper demanded to be paid, and I went to the court house to do my civic duty.
For the record, I have no problem with jury duty. In fact, it’s something that until yesterday, I’d always hoped to be called for at some point.
I got to the court house, and was happy to see everyone wearing masks. There were signs all over telling people to wear masks. There were signs telling people to keep 6 feet apart.
While the first sign was pretty strongly enforced, the second was not.
I got there a little early, and proceeded to watch in horror as the waiting area not only filled to capacity, it overflowed into the hall. 70 of us crammed into a tiny room, with chairs 18 inches apart. 30 more people standing in the hallway.
And of course, the woman next to me has a massive coughing fit.
We’re all wearing masks, but my amygdala is on fire at this point.
After waiting, and then having 5 minute orientation, we had a 15 minute break. I relocated to the hall.
Then we all got led to the courtroom, where, again, there were more people than available seats, and they packed us all into every available chair in the audience portion of the court room, and had extra people go sit in the jury box.
We got to meet the judge, the prosecutor, the defense attorney, and the defendant. The defendant had a good lawyer, because he was polite, courteous – even friendly – and then I heard what he was charged with. I’m not going to go into that, because the case is pending, but it happened less than 200 yards from my home. I remember it well.
The judge explained what would constitute a hardship, and asked how many of us needed to ask for one. About 30 of us did (including myself – I have some work-related stuff coming up that the case would interfere with, plus the fact that I knew the crime, and lived way too close to the crime scene would make me considerably less than impartial).
So, those of us with hardship requests got to stand around in a cramped hallway, with no ventilation or ability to distance for about 30 minutes or so, while the judge went through them all. Eventually, I was excused.
It doesn’t matter to me that we were all masked. Three hours in this environment was equivalant to being trapped in a burning elevator with 20 people stuck on the 24th floor. Today should be Thursday.
I still have way too much adrenaline in my system, and none of this is being helped by the work crews shaving and resurfacing all of the sidewalks outside our windows today. They are not, nor will they ever be, Einstürzende Neubauten.
I came home yesterday, took a hot shower, and dumped my clothes in the wash.
Wish it felt like it was enough.