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