Of RL and Invoking Tropes

So. Monday I got to portray a civilian version of the Old Soldier, so to speak. The one who’s been there, done that, and was Not Impressed.

In retrospect, kind of amusing.

Long story short: jury duty. Yes, yes, civic duty, so’s paying taxes and I don’t see people getting grief for grumbling about that. And it’s not the duty I mind so much as the location.

In brief – the courthouse is an hour’s drive, each way, and that’s if you take the toll bridge so you have a hope in Hades of getting there that quickly. And once you get there….

Parking: Ha.

Seriously, it’s bad to the point that they have to tell the local cops not to ticket people parked in the two-hour spaces. The poor schmucks up for selection can’t get out to move them.

Inside? I’ll spare you the long, long list of things you can’t bring. My pockets were about 3 pounds lighter than usual.

Oh, you want a bathroom? One stall on the selection floor. A few more on another. About 80-odd people up for selection who have maybe 20 minutes before they have to be herded back in. You do the math.

You want lunch? You might get a half-hour break to grab some. There are vending machines. You have food allergies? Heh. Too bad. You can’t bring your own food or drink in. You can leave some out in the car to grab. Did I mention it’s summer and cars get over 150 F inside?

Which makes the absolute worst thing about the courthouse a case of adding insult to injury: It’s freaking cold in there. Low 60s. When you’re coming inside from about 90 F. Cold to the point the courthouse website breaks down and suggests you bring a sweater, because it can be “a bit chill”.

How did I know all this going in? Because it was my fourth time selected. The random DL grabber must like me.

So in I go, with a bag of books, paper, pens, a sweatshirt, and a thick jacket. Mind you most of my fellow victims- er, citizens were looking at me askance for the sweatshirt and jacket. At least until we’d been seated about 15 minutes and they realized it wasn’t warming up. At all.

I will give you a sample of the ensuing conversational bits.

Lady who’d worn open-toed shoes: “Do you think it’s always this cold in here?”

Me: “Sometimes it’s worse.”

Lady: “Worse?!?”

Me: “I’ve been here a few times. I was hoping they’d fixed the bathrooms up. No such luck….”

A little later.

Lady: “So, we should be done in a few hours, right?”

Me: “Last time I was here until 5:30.”

Dead silence.

I open a book. It’s a thick one. (A history of Venice, because why not….)

More silence.

In a few minutes some tentative conversations start up. Oh, there are fairly lively ones a few rows away, but as the hours wear on the people sitting next to me seem to realize no, they’re not getting out of here lickety-split to enjoy a day off from work. No, they are actually stuck here, in the cold, until such time as the legal system gets moving. Heh.

I get about halfway through the book, and… well, I was tired. There were a bunch of things I had to take care of before I got on the road, meaning I had to get up very early, and the night was not a good sleeping night – so I did the sensible thing. Closed the book, pulled both hoods as far down as possible, tucked my head, and tried to catch a few winks.

You could hear people’s brains grind to a halt.

…At that, this was better than my last time at the courthouse, where a lady demanded my coat because she was cold. This time, at least, no one bothered me. Wonder why…. 😉

Well. That’s done for a year. Supposedly. We’ll see. Murphy can always find a way!

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33 thoughts on “Of RL and Invoking Tropes

  1. I remember when I had jury duty. My district had a brand new courthouse. I got to see it shown off. A little chill, but comfy enough. We were in and out of there in 30 minutes because all cases got dismissed. Dunno if that’s a good or bad thing…

    Side note: I live in central Texas. Could Florida please come claim their swampy weather? It seems to have stalled out over my place…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry, looks like we have an overflow situation. Seriously, we have at least 14″ more rain for the year than normal!

      And heh. This courthouse is old. Old old. They’ve tried putting measures on the ballot to replace it, but nothing seems to go through.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Probably because no one wants to pay the taxes need to build a new courthouse. Or wouldn’t approve money being re-allocated to spend on a new building. New courthouse will probably wait until the old one almost literally collapses.

        Voters can sometimes create just as much of as mess as the politicians.

        Take the voters in my district for an example. Couple of years ago they voted yes that school classes must be limited to X size . . . but no to a very, very small tax increase to fund the schools and teachers needed to keep classes to X size . . . and then bitch about arts and other stuff in the school district getting cut. Well, where do they think the money needed to do the thing they are now required by law to do was going to come from?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jury duty, ugh.

    Perhaps the only thing worse than getting called in for selection is getting selected to be on the jury.

    And then being stuck with a bunch of people who think it’s okay to award pain and suffering damages even though everyone has already agreed that the medical treatments took care of the injury, and therefore, the plaintiff’s continuing “pain and suffering” is not the result of the defendant’s actions.

    …I still feel bad about that one, lo these many years later, but ten of the twelve agreed and that’s all that was needed…

    The icing on that crap-cake was that the defendant’s lawyer polled the jury afterward, and the way he asked the question made it impossible to answer accurately…. so it looked like a unanimous verdict.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I only get picked for jury selection when I’m moving. No, seriously, out of my last five big moves(across states), I would get jury notices a week before for four of them. (The most amusing thing is, I will never be picked to serve, having a family member who was a law librarian is a quick way to get disqualified.)

    Also, wow, that sucks.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well *I’ve* never been selected for jury duty, but my sister was… after she moved out of state, because she never bothered to update her voters registration. My mom tried to get it straightened out for her, but you know how bureaucracy is about things like that… long story short, my sister had a warrant out for her arrest for a while. Come to think of it, I have no idea how that got resolved. All I know is she hasn’t served jail time… yet.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Never been on jury duty or anything like that but I have to agree about the weather. It was over 30C (that might not seem that hot but this is Canada) and the rain has been so bad the river flooded which I’ve never even heard of before.

    As for RL tropes, I read one today in the paper. A painting of my city’s first mayor was recently hung in city hall. It was donated by a historical society that have no idea how they got it or who it depicted. The painting’s last known location burned down over 80 years ago. Finally, while doing the restoration they found an unknown key. It sounds like the start of a mystery novel!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Never had the pleasure myself (yay!) But my mom homeschooled all of us and A) if you are a teacher and have class that day you do not have to serve jury duty and B) homeschool school days are really flexible. So sometimes my school year started in the middle of July. Or earlier. Sometimes it didn’t even have anything to do with jury duty. We didn’t like to go outside in the first place (between heat and insects we were miserable) and there is only so much you can do inside before the cabin fever kicks in.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. …Jury duty. *blink*

    Huh. I don’t have any experience with that, our legal system works a bit different.

    *reading through… snicker*

    On civic duty – we have mandatory military or civil service, with annually recurring repetition courses (depending on the branch, informally known as “green holidays”…) until you’ve reached your quota of service days.
    And we get to vote. Heh.

    Wikipedia has a good article on the topic, “Voting in Switzerland”.

    While I like having that much input, some of the optional referenda and popular initiatives are… interesting.
    For example the proposed abolition of the armed forces, or company tax code reforms that would increase taxes on private people – if you bother reading between the lines.

    …yes. Headdesk time.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. TVTropes has a few entries… Leeroy Jenkins, Too Dumb to Live etc.

        Seriously, the current social and economic climate in southern europe (e.g. Spain, France, Italy – two of which are DIRECT neighbours!) is IMO getting closer and closer to a tipping point.
        I really hope something changes before it gets there.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. The courthouse in my county is a little odd, it’s not in the highest population center in the county, so it’s a bit of a drive for most people to get there. It’s “downtown” but in a 1900’s style of downtown, before traffic was really a thing. As a consequence, parking is pretty bad there.

    So bad, that the last time I wa sphere, I had a backwards double parking incident. There’s a gravel lot for the courthouse on the grounds. It’s spaces are marked with curbs. I parked to the bit of the right of my space, while I guess the person who came in later parked a bit to the left.

    Then a third person comes along, and parks between our cars. My driver side door was so close to the third car it got less than six inches of “open”. I ended up crawling into my car through the passenger side. I don’t even remember how I got it out of the space without hitting our mirrors together.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I haven’t been on jury duty for about 20 years, but both times I was called actually got chosen (sigh) first for a murder trial that lasted three months. Gave me nightmares, but the forensic stuff like blood spatter analysis was interesting. The second was a perjury trial. This was shortly before perjury became big political news. The intersection was interesting but otherwise that one was a slog. But I discovered it IS possible to take shredded paper output and piece it back together. I got a better shredder after that trial.

    Parking was dreadful, but the judge just fixed the tickets.

    My county is reasonably civilized about it, if your name is chosen for the pool, you’re given a ‘juror number’ and a phone number to call each day of the week you’re on the hook. If the recording at the phone number tells your juror number to come in, you have to go to the courthouse. Otherwise you get to spend the day doing whatever you normally do. Lots of people never even have to go down to the court.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Something to do with your paper shreds:

      As long as there’s not plastic in them, you can use them as filler in your garden beds or planter boxes.

      Layer them into the dirt, and in a month or so, the worms will have turned them into lovely, lovely soil.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Had call in jury duty once, the ladies running the waiting room were really nice. Didn’t get picked and the nice ladies told us to go home early since they didn’t have any more cases and none where likely pending. This was federal level not state. State I’d have likely been stuck there all day.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Never been summoned for jury duty. Probably not likely to get picked for one as I almost completed a degree in criminal justice . . .

    Some of my mother’s relatives were in law enforcement, most recently one of her brothers . . . through I’m unclear if Uncle D was actually in law enforcement or just working with them on something. He died while doing whatever it was in what is officially an accident but my mother’s family is convinced wasn’t anything of the sort – they think Uncle D was murdered.

    I don’t know what to think about his death. It happened well before I was born, Grandpa died before I was old enough to talk about stuff like this, and my Mom and her sisters don’t like to talk about it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Part of me does want to know more but it it outweighed by other things.

        Like I don’t like the idea of making my mom cry and she always does if we have to talk about her brother for any extended period. Aunt N cries too and Aunt J was too young to remember much (Aunt J is half-sister to my mom and Aunt N and Uncle D so she’s a bit younger than they are).

        And self-preservation. The agency he was working with was the DEA . . . and people involved in the illegal drug trade can be very, very bad people.

        Liked by 1 person

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