Friday, March 03, 2006

Jury duty: The Adventures of Stupendous Rack Girl and Well Hung Man

A couple of days ago I had to go to jury duty. I used to always try to get out of it, but a few years ago they changed the system so that you only have to serve for "one day or one trial." No more having to hang around for a week; you go down to the courthouse, and if you don't get on a jury on your first day, you can go home. If you do get on a jury, well, most trials in the county circuit court only take a day or two, so it's no big deal. I don't bother trying to get out of it anymore.

Anyway, I go down to the courthouse Wednesday morning at 8:30 like I'm supposed to. I go inside and look for signs that say "Jury." I'm all looking around at signs, so I don't make eye contact with the security people. I don't see what I'm looking for, so I look away from the signs and I start towards the guards to ask them where to go, when I see "Jury" out of the corner of my eye. So just in the very instant I make eye contact with a guard, I veer off in another direction, towards the sign. I wonder if that might have looked kind of suspicious. I glance back as I head in the direction the sign points, and all the guards have their hands near their guns. I hear a little "pop" as one of them unsnaps the button on his holster. It's probably just a coincidence.

I go down the stairs and see a sign that says "Jury Assembly." It points to more stairs. I go down those too. There's another sign. More stairs. So finally I'm like 40 stories underground, and there it is: "Jury Assembly Room." Considering our location in the building, "Dungeon" would seem more appropriate, but this probably says something about where jurors fit into the courtroom hierarchy: at the bottom. I go in, and there are a couple of tables with ladies behind them. Lady No. 1 says, "What's your juror number?" I tell her I'm Juror Number 24, and she checks me off her list and takes some paperwork from me. She gives me some of it back and says I shouldn't throw it away in the courthouse. It has my name and address on it, and I want to be careful of identity theft. There are lots of unsavory characters around, she says, and she doesn't just mean the lawyers. A lawyer joke. In the courthouse. How unexpected. Ha-ha.

I go on into the room, which is big and full of about 60 people. Bricks and wood paneling. Gray carpet. Rows of 20-year-old maroon chairs with black steel legs. I love what you've done with the place. At least the chairs are padded. There are two TVs, tuned to CNN -- no Fox News here, thank you very much, not in this town. There's also a bookcase, with stacks of magazines and about four dozen Reader's Digest Condensed Books. Wait -- what? That's right, four dozen Reader's Digest Condensed Books. I have to take a closer look. The dates on their spines range from about 1957 to 1975. I recognize very few of the titles. It's kind of sad -- 20 years of forgotten bestsellers, and 30 years since they've been read. Did their authors dream of immortality? Did they think that making it into Reader's Digest Condensed Books would mean people would always read their books? But enough musing -- this is a happy post.

So I sit down in the back and look around at the other jurors. Most of them are old like me, 30s and 40s, and beyond. There's lots of grey hair around. The dress is mostly sort of "business casual" -- hardly anybody in this town wears a suit or even a tie anyway -- but some people seem to take it a little too far. There are people in jeans and t-shirts, and even one guy in shorts. I wonder if a judge will send him home to change.

One of the few young people is a girl in her early 20s who comes in a bit late. She's wearing khaki pants, a white shirt and an unzipped black jacket. Her jacket is unzipped, I'm pretty sure, because she can't zip it up. Her breasts are too big for that. Her chest is amazing. Stupendous. Her breasts enter the room about three minutes before she does. She's not fat, mind you, just phat. I immediately name her in my mind: Stupendous Rack Girl. Sounds like a superhero, doesn't it? We could be superheroes together: "The Adventures of Stupendous Rack Girl and Well Hung Man." I raise my hand. "Um, can I be on jury with her, please?" OK, I don't really do that. But I think it.

We all sit around for awhile. People read books -- uncondensed books -- and magazines, they watch CNN. The guy sitting next to me watches a portable DVD player with headphones. Only two people are having a conversation. I wonder if they know each other already. At 8:40, one of the ladies gets up and turns off the TVs. She starts talking to us in a soft Southern accent, I do declare. She talks about the "one day or one trial" thing. They have two trials scheduled for that day. Neither one is expected to take more than a day. She tells us about parking, and that we can get a voucher to pay for it if we parked in the official lot according to the instructions we got in the mail. Stupendous Rack Girl raises her hand. She says she couldn't park in the designated lot because she has an oversized vehicle. Southern Lady apologizes. I lose the train of their conversation, because I'm thinking, Stupendous Rack Girl has an oversized vehicle, she needs a King Cab just to fit behind the wheel, she doesn't need an airbag, heh-heh-heh.

(To be continued…)

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