At the start of summer, I had the honor of being selected for jury duty. I wasn’t needed until the end of the month, so there were weeks of anticipation pent up inside of me once the day arrived.
On top of waking up at 6 a.m., I was also had to fight traffic in my breaking-down vehicle. If there is ever a moment in my life that makes me feel more like an adult, it’s that one.
I got there around 8 a.m. and everyone else seemed to as well. We all walked in together and lined up to walk through the metal detector. Many people had laptops, books and other things to keep them busy. I, on the other hand, brought in my phone and keys.
Stretching outside of the room the jurors meet in, was a line of at least 50 people. We were all checked in with a desk worker, then entered a room filled with cloth covered chairs that had seats too small for anyone. I chose a seat next to a nice man who clearly wanted to be there just as much as I did.
After waiting for an hour, a woman went up to the judge’s bench and announced that the senior judge would be down in a few minutes. An hour later, he showed up. Rules and regulations were read to us and he explained what the county’s expectations were for us, as jurors. I didn’t listen to much he said, but the one thing that stuck out to me was when he said, “for this week, you will be on call for the law.” Then roll was called. This was the most excruciating part because the room was filled with 100 to 150 people. It felt like a professor, for a large lecture class, wanted to make sure every student had arrived at his class on test day.
The judge eventually left and before leaving, the woman who was working the desk told us that she didn’t know how long we would be waiting for a case to open up, then left us alone. Everyone sat in silence for a good hour, doing their own thing, not really talking to anyone. The moment I knew I was in for a long day was when the woman in front of me pulled out her iPad and google searched “Trump.”
By lunch, we still hadn’t received any updates on what was “going on upstairs,” code for judge’s offices. The same woman from before went up to the judge’s bench once again and explained that sometimes, cases are resolved just by us showing up. I was glad to know my civic duty was being fulfilled.
We had an hour and a half for lunch and were free to go wherever, as long as we were back on time. My mind began to race about what would happen if I left. I would have to sit in lunch-time traffic, find another parking spot, check back in with the cops and walk through the metal detector again. So, I decided to stay in that room with the other four people who were just as smart as me.
Mostly everyone started coming back in after an hour, which meant it was time for me to wake up. By this point, people had created little groups. I wanted no part of that so I sat alone by the wall. It’s hard to imagine how other people saw me, but I can assure you, I looked like the most miserable person in that room.
Around 3 p.m., the same woman came back in and excused us all for the day. We weren’t scheduled to leave until 5 p.m., but because we were all just paid for seven hours of doing nothing, the government was nice and sent us home. But that’s all I’ll say.
I thought that was the end of my exciting day but I had the, once again, honor of being stuck in the parking deck until just about every juror pulled out and passed the spot I was in. To add to the fun, my phone was dying and also over heated which meant I was getting home on my own. I’m glad that it’s somewhat easy for me to wing things and be successful, but my drive was definitely a half an hour longer than before.
For the rest of the week, I waited for the text to come at 7:20 p.m. every night. Every text I received was just to tell me that I was not needed the next day. I never went back to that county building, it’s a foreign place to me now.
To make a long story short, if you are called for jury duty bring something to keep you busy. And, if you live in a town with many middle-aged white people, be ready for conversations about the issues they have with their kids and coy bragging about their jobs in the city.