we the jury

My Tuesday started out with metal detectors, standing in line with disgruntled strangers, and watching a video that attempted to answer the age-old question “What IS a TRIAL?” That’s right, kids, I had jury duty. Or, rather, sit-at-a-table-reading-my-book-next-to-people-slumped-over-their-coats-trying-to-nap duty.

I loved the video. They were basically like, “You may have heard the words TRIAL and COURTROOM before on TELEVISION. Or maybe you’ve been involved in a TRIAL before yourself.” These are my choices? I’ve learned about the legal system from Ally McBeal, or I’m out robbing 7-11s and finding out about TRIALS firsthand?

The guy in the video really wanted us to understand that the legal system isn’t like what you see on TV. He was about 100 years old, wearing a tweed coat, holding his lapels with both hands, and squinting at the camera over giant black glasses. All he needed was a pipe and I would’ve thought the legal system was like the board game Clue.

At one point we did get called into another room. There were about thirty of us and nobody was talking. If we’d all been in a room together at a bar the noise would’ve been deafening, but put a bunch of strangers in a room without alcohol before 11 AM and everyone checks their personality at the door. But I could tell this guy coming in was going to start talking, because he was one of those loud enter-a-roomers. He walked in, looked around, exhaled and said to nobody, “OKAY THEN!” Then he sat next to me, and he almost scared me when a few moments later:

Him: DO YOU EVER WATCH JUDGE JUDY?

Keep in mind the room is silent. Except for him. And now me.

Me: Um…I’ve seen it before, yeah.
Him: THAT GUY LOOKS LIKE HER HUSBAND.

Dear God, tell me he’s not pointing to someone else in the room. I follow his gaze and realize he’s referring to a painting on the wall, presumably of some judge. Then I realize that there’s only one word with which to respond when a loose cannon who has just entered your life tells you that Some Guy on the Wall looks like Judge Judy’s husband. And that word is “Oh.”

HIM: I’M TRYING NOT TO LOOK AT YOU, JUDGE! I KEEP TRYING TO LOOK AWAY! BUT IT’S HARD!

He’s addressing the painting, by the way.

When all the other panels had left us I looked around at my crew. Thanks to Lost, I now imagine how random assortments of people that I find myself amongst would fare in the jungle. I could take that guy, he’s like 80. That guy’s reading Faulkner, he’d probably burst into tears before I have a chance to karate chop him. Wait, what am I talking about? Am I really planning on offing my fellow jungle jurors one by one in order to achieve total island domination? Who ARE you, Red? I should be collecting sticks or berries or comforting that old lady or something; it’s not Survivor, for God’s sake.

Then I realized that I seemed to be the only woman under 50 in this group, and you know what that means: repopulating the species is now up to me. And my baby daddy prospects aren’t looking good. Then I decide that this thinking is a sign of mental illness and it’s time to start text messaging my friends, who are now starting to think that between snow days and fighting for justice, I don’t seem to have an actual job anymore.

So I just sat there reading, secure in the knowledge that my very presence in that courthouse was causing cases to settle left and right, lest anyone in the legal profession have to sit in a room with me for the next several hours. I got to leave at 1:00. Is this the commonwealth’s way of making amends for forcing me to take adult driver’s ed? If so, I accept your apology.

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