Thank God the hamsta ganstas didn’t get ahold of this blade
Day one of actual jury duty, and I’d already hit my stress limit by the time we sat down in the jury box.
We were ordered to be in the jury waiting room at 8:45 a.m. sharp, and I made sure I had a nice fat, five-minute cushion when I walked up the courthouse stairs. Unlike the day before, when I was a mere citizen with a jury summons and sailed right through the security checkpoint, on this day I hit a snag.
The screener spotted an eensy-weensy little folding knife in my makeup bag. It had sailed right on through the day before, no biggie. Ah, but I wasn’t a juror then. Once you’re a juror, you belong to THEM.
Officer Hardass, standing nearby, declared that I must take it back to my car or have it confiscated.
You’ve got to be kidding me. The blade isn’t big enough for a hamster knife fight.
“It’s still a weapon,” he said sternly.
And yet, he wasn’t worried about my tongue at all. Or my keyboard. Silly man.
“Can’t I just leave it with you and pick it up later?”
Officer Hardass replied that all he could do is confiscate it. Otherwise, take it back to the car or throw it away. By then, it was 8:43, and I was tempted to chuck it in the trash, but the cheapskate – it is strong with this one. I protested that I didn’t have enough time to walk three blocks to my car and back. I’d be late.
“Trust me, you’ve got plenty of time,” said the screener. I would not fully understand the pure truth of that statement for several days.
“Can I go to the bathroom first?” I pleaded, squirming a bit by this point. I’d downed a huge travel mug of black coffee on the drive there without reservation because I hadn’t anticipated being detained in the security dragnet over a gerbil’s switchblade. My bladder was not amused.
“No,” said Officer Hardass sternly. Because he could.
Thankfully, the screening officer took pity on me, and directed me to leave my purse and go. I did, and on the way out, I gave Officer Hardass an annoyed glance as I snatched my purse and practically jogged to my car.
It wasn’t until I got to the car that I discovered the makeup bag wasn’t in my purse. Oh yeah – they’d removed the bag from my purse, needing of course to isolate that weapon. I was so flustered about being late, I totally forgot. I threw a personal little hissy fit right there in the parking lot, and jogged back to the courthouse and back up the stairs.
“You didn’t give me the bag back,” I growled, half-winded. He knew. He handed it to me as soon as he saw me. And Officer Hardass. He knew too. They probably watched me leave without the bag and then giggled like schoolgirls as soon as I got out the door.
That’s it, buddy. The next glance you get is going to be way worse than annoyance.
So, I trotted back to the car yet again, and as all mature adults would, opened the door, and flung the makeup bag to the floor as hard as I could, swearing like a middle-schooler and then turned around and jogged back yet again, sailing right through security this time. And, oh yes, Officer Hardass got a glance all right.
See this face, Officer Hardass? That’s not mere annoyance anymore. That’s acrimony.
Stings, doesn’t it.
You had it comin’, pal.
I charged up the stairs and into the jury room, and was relieved that the other jurors were still there. Whew. I wouldn’t be sent to the Big House for contempt of court after all. I settled into a chair and before anyone had a chance to make eye contact or engage me in any way, I pulled out my iPad and popped in my earbuds — the perfect shield for unwanted social interaction. I learned that move from my kids.
The only thing that could’ve made the morning any more aggravating would have been getting sucked into chit-chat quicksand with strangers. I wasn’t there to be sociable. I wasn’t there to make friends. I was there for one reason: I was forced to.
At least my fears about being late turned out to be unfounded. After a half hour rolled past, I decided to try an iPad game. I picked Temple Run, because I could understand the goal: Run fast and don’t die. I began this game as a complete novice. By the time the trial ended nearly two weeks later, I’d mastered the “Karma Lee” level, slipping and sliding and grabbing coins and magic green diamonds, swinging on ropes and leaping over ravines like a born gamer. And I don’t even like video games.
Turns out, much of jury duty involves sitting and waiting. But a video game seemed somewhat more entertaining than what I usually do to pass time when I’m stuck somewhere and excruciatingly bored: imagining all the ways I could commit suicide using only the available props in the room. That got me through covering many a planning commission meeting, my friends. Just a mention of sewer laterals, and I’d be mentally impaling myself on the flagpole.
As for my fellow jurors, they were embracing this whole adventure, chattering about this and that, and deciding where they’d go for lunch. I’d take note so I could be sure to head in the other direction at lunchtime. Why be so unsociable? Simple. I had a singular goal: to get through this hostage ordeal and resume my normal life as quickly as possible. Besides, once we got into deliberations, if I had to verbally mince some nit-picking melonhead into pieces for bogging the process down with endless, pointless debate, it’d be a lot easier if we hadn’t chatted over sandwiches the day before.