12 Angry Men
Yesterday I had to serve jury duty for my county. They don't let you out for excuses like you have babies at home or it would cause hardship for your employer. They let you postpone it, which I already did once. They have drop-in daycare at the courthouse for jurors and people with "court business" which to me signals abused and neglected kids whose guardians are either battling each other or battling the state. I hope I'm not being too quick to judge but I really didn't want to put my infant in a place with people I knew nothing about.
So my mom came and watched Alex while I headed to court and prayed I didn't get picked for a trial. The process was amazingly smooth, the courthouse staff are absolutely delightful. There was free parking with a big sign that said "Juror Parking" and very clearly marked signs all the way to the "Juror Marshalling room". Something about that name made me feel like a farm animal trapped in a giant pen. But it wasn't bad at all, they chairs were comfy, we saw a well-done video, and the woman giving directions should've been a standup comic. What was amazing to me was how fast 47 people who didn't know each other at all started chit-chatting. A woman next to me immediately asked me about the book I was reading.
After a couple hours of sitting around they called random numbers to go up to a courtroom for the only jury trial in house that day. Well they had only required just enough people to report, so 45 out of 47 of us had to go in. Then we sat around in the courtroom for a long time. First the lawyers and judge were back negotiating in private while we waited. We could watch the plaintiffs and defendants, and we could talk to each other. Then the judge came out and gave us instructions about the "voir dire" process. They asked a bunch of questions, mainly about if you'd been a party to an automobile accident lawsuit before. I was stunned how many jurors had been, probably about 20 out of 47 of us. Then the really boring part, they called each person who had responded positively to the questions back into chambers to question them further in private. That took awhile.
I sat next to an immigration lawyer with medical equipment and hearing aids with him. He looked unhealthy, but he was pretty funny. He was very interested in hearing about my business and the lawsuit I was a party to. I listened politely to him talk about his business, even though I could've cared less. What I really hated though, was that he kept whispering things to me when we were supposed to be listening. Like he would ask me if he had trouble hearing something the judge said. Or he would make comments like "that Juror number 8 is so outta here". I'm a teacher's pet, and I HATE THAT.
I had lunch with three other jurors, two suburban moms my age and one young guy who was a resident at a hospital in the city. He was a big self-deprecating geek who talked a LOT. About himself and his lack of a girlfriend. Maybe working 85 hours a week has something to do with that? Or maybe NOT. SHUTTING. UP. has something to do with it.
In the end, I was not selected for the final jury. Thank goodness. But I could not get over how some of the jurors acted towards each other as we were all leaving. People were hugging goodbye and waving and exchanging numbers and thanking each other for advice. Like we were all best buddies. Is it me? There must be something wrong with me that I think I have nothing in common with these people and I will never see them again the rest of my life so just let me serve my civic duty in peace.