Getting summoned to Jury duty isn’t something most people enjoy. I didn’t. When I first got my summons I carefully placed it back in the mailbox where it belonged, closed my eyes, and hoped it would somehow magically return from whence it came over the weekend.
No, I am afraid I eventually had to face the reality of it’s presence and call in like a good citizen, hoping all along that calling in would be the end of my civic duty.
That didn’t happen either. Woe is me, right? Yeah, before I begin complaining up the wazoo for something that really is no hardship at all, please know that I tell this story purely for the delight of telling stories, and possibly making you laugh. It is not because I feel any misfortune on my part whatsoever for having experienced it.
So now that you know this, allow me to continue with my dreadful story (;
Monday evening my call-in goes precisely as planned. Not required to come in, and I am asked to call in again Tuesday evening.
Good. Perfect. Tuesday evening rolls around, I call in.
Please report to the courthouse by 8am.
Annnnd there it is.
When I first arrive at the main lobby the next morning, I am a bit taken aback at the number of people occupying it. I quickly estimate there’s gotta be at least 400 people crammed in there, which makes adding myself to the lot that much more difficult. I’m more of an wide open space, non-crowd, outside air, personal space sorta girl. To walk into a stuffy, closed area with no apparent option to sit by myself makes me a tad wary.
But enter I must, so I do, and I manage to find a tiny little corner underneath a water fountain where no one is, and sit cross-legged on the floor with my sweatshirt wrapped around me like a blanket. I’m not cold, it just makes me feel like I have a sort of buffer between me and the massive amounts of people around me. I know it’s a facade, but the illusion of personal space is better than nothing, I tell myself. For a person who likes people, I sure don’t do so well with crowds.
Leaning against the wall, I begin to survey the room and the people in it. I can hardly help myself from people-watching, I do it all the time without even realizing it, sometimes noticing things I’d rather have not seen. Now I have a whole room full of fodder right in front of me.
A few individuals begin to capture my attention for whatever reason- they’re distressed, they’re happy (though few and far between in this case), they aren’t feeling well, and one in particular looks so sad I almost want to go sit next to her. On second thought I realize that another person around her is probably the last thing she wants at this moment, and I stay put underneath my water fountain. I continue observing for the next half an hour or so before I become satisfied with my intake and pull out my book to read.
It is at this moment that some guy with a leather book-bag slung over his shoulder who is about my age, and probably a good foot taller than me, comes over to my water fountain and sits down in my personal space beside me.
What is this? I think in disbelief. Can’t he read? I thought my forehead clearly stated ‘Beat it’ in some form or another. My personal space bubble is usually so strong, people sense it almost immediately and provide plenty of buffer space around me. Either this guy can’t sense it or he doesn’t care.
In either case, it does not bode well with me. “Look here fella” I want to say, “this is my fountain, I found it first. There are plenty of other places to sit, come on now“. But, as I rarely tend to open my mouth in most circumstances, unless it’s absolutely necessary, I scoot over a few inches instead, trying not to be too noticeable as I realize this part of me is particularly ridiculous.
As I sit there pretending to read my book, trying to share my tiny little space I so treasure, I suddenly realize whats going on. He’s got a pretty good personal space buffer himself, I can feel it. He’s probably found the one person in the room who won’t sit any closer than necessary and might actually help shield him from other potential invaders.
Haha! You think I’m joking? Think again.
So my tall friend and I sit there for who knows how long in silence doing our own thing and I eventually get back to my book. It happens to be Hunger Games, and I begin to glean from it’s pages all the ways in which one might disperse a crowd quickly and efficiently…
A few hours later I tire of sitting on the floor. My arse is numb and I decide I need some coffee anyway, and so abandon my beloved post and head to the kitchen area of the room. I find an unoccupied spot at the counter, place my book on it and begin reading while I lean up against the side with my back to the rest of the room.
Five minutes later I realize someone’s next to me- It’s Tall Dude again. What is with this guy anyway? Guess we’re in pact now or something, I must be doing a damn good job of maintaining our crowd buffer.
Soon enough someone stands up front and says she’s gonna announce to the 400 people in the room the 80 potential jurors that will be taken to the courtroom for questioning and selection of the 12. We are told this case will take at least two weeks, which means if I get selected there goes my trip to Spokane to see Q in March.
Hmmm. This will be interesting.
To be completely honest, I’ve had a feeling this whole time I’d be one of the lucky few who’d get chosen in the end. Why? Because I’m that girl, that one-in-a-millionth-chance-girl that is usually in the one percent of everything.
I’m so used to be being the exception to the rule that I’ve come to sort of expect it, and so have the friends who have known me long enough. I have no explanation for it, it just happens that way.
A few brief examples: Spontaneous pneumothorax/collapsed lung hits one in every 100,000 people, most of whom are tall males. I am neither tall nor male. It’s happened to me at least 4 times. During an iron infusion I am told that they have never seen an allergic reaction to the stuff in all their years as nurses and that the odds are near zero that it’ll happen to me. It happens to me. Twice. During the insertion of a tube into my chest the doctors discover my body has a resistance to the anesthetic and I experience the pain of the surgery in full, completely conscious the entire procedure despite the increasing amount of medication they are loading into my 105lb body.
So you see? I’m really just weird that way……. I really need to start playing the lottery.
So anyway, back to my story. I don’t have a great feeling about this and email my boss and assistant from my phone to give them a heads up.
“Don’t worry about it” they say. “It’s be fine” they say. “I mean really, what are the chances?”
Ha. You’d be surprised.
After getting into the courtroom we are given a somewhat detailed explanation of the case (which is not a pleasant situation in any way) and how they will proceed with selecting jurors. I like the judge immediately and tell myself that if I get selected at least it’ll be with him. Chasen is sitting next to me (Tall Dude who has found solace in my company) He suddenly leans over to tell me he’s gonna get picked next.
He does. Guess we are kindred spirits after all.
Questioning continues, as does selection. Chasen gets dismissed eventually on account of some job interview the next day and I high-five him as he leaves.
Lucky bastard, now it’s just me.
By 4 o’clock after much ado, they finally agree on a jury and they’re sworn in.
Holy Moses, I made it, I think, I actually made it! Haha! Take that, one in a millionth chance! As I am putting my book in my bag I hear a despicable voice say,
“Ok, now we can begin alternate juror selection”
Ahhhhhh crap. Forgot about the bloody alternates. I sit back….they are down to the last chair. There are still plenty of people in the room, it’s so unlikely I’ll get picked, even if the odds are against me, it’d be like finding a needle in a haystack.
“Jennifer One in a Millionth, please take jury seat number 4”
And there it is. They found the damn needle.
I walk up to the front and sit down in the chair I’ve been called to. They go through a few more questions and tell us to stand up so we can get sworn in. Just as I’m wondering how I’m gonna tell Q I can’t come see her, one of the attorneys suddenly asks to speak to the judge. They go over in what looks exactly like a sudden time-out during the fourth quarter of a football game. The judge turns around, looks directly at me and grins.
“Juror number 4, you are excused. We’ve decided we only need 3 alternates.”
Well I’ll be darned. That one percent works both ways after all.