People aren't generally excited to get a jury duty summons in the mail. Yes, I know, it’s our responsibility to serve, but let’s face it: It’s totally inconvenient.
Which is why I postponed mine 3 times.
My summons was for criminal court, but this is NYC. They must have suspected that I couldn't handle all THAT action because I was quickly transferred to civil court for a medical trial. More my speed.
Now, if you’ve ever watched Law & Order, you know the building. And I have to say, it's just as gorgeous inside – marble everywhere, gold leaf details, mahogany paneling, giant murals on the walls and paintings on the ceilings depicting NY’s history.
I think they saw about 150 people total for this trial, over 3 days of jury selection. They made me sweat it out until we were down to the final 18. At that point, half of us were sworn in and the other half were dismissed. It would have been interesting, but luckily, they did NOT choose me -- the case was expected to be a month long, 4 days a week.
Who can DO that, other than the unemployed, retired, or deranged?
Now I KNOW we aren’t supposed to talk about the case. And I won’t. But they didn’t say anything against talking about the other people I encountered at jury duty. I can't keep it to myself. This place was like the DMV x 10. Clearly, everyone who entered the main jury room was laser-focused on ways to get out.
Case in point: I counted no less than 7 people with neck braces.
Anyway, looking around over the course of 3 days, I saw quite a cross-section of the population. If these were my peers, I may have to move. Seriously.
Here are the 12 people who stood out:
- CHUCKLES: The first guy I noticed not with my eyes, but with my ears. Because he was laughing like a maniac. In 10 minute intervals. For 6 hours. And I'm not talking about when you get a case of the giggles. Oh no. This guy was a skin suit and a tube of lotion away from Silence of the Lambs. Welcome to jury duty!
- CHATTY CATHY: This lady was sitting in the row in front of me, running her mouth for hours. She. Would. Not. Shut. Up. God bless the patience of the man sitting next to her. I know her whole life. She was a florist, but also a photographer, but also a caretaker for her 89 year old mother, but also a foot model, but also -- by my observation -- a woman with a ridiculous amount of leg hair for someone wearing a mini skirt. (And PS: only one of these things is false -- she wasn't really a professional photographer.)
- THE PHLEGM KING OF NY COUNTY: I think that one is pretty self-explanatory.
- THE CITY EMPLOYEE: This woman worked for the MTA and was just thrilled to be missing out on work. She was the happiest person in the whole room. Except for Chuckles.
- THE NAYSAYER: I didn't notice this character until we were in the courtroom and he opened his mouth. This guy disagreed with everything. He had problems with lawyers, and with people who file law suits, and with sick people, and with doctors. You know what I had a problem with? His chronic nose picking.
- THE THUG: When you wake up in the morning, and you're headed to court, is it ever a good idea to wear a t-shirt that proudly proclaims, "Snitches Get Stitches"? I'm thinking no. But clearly this angry guy didn't get the memo. Even his crazy long chest hair was aggressive – jabbing right through his shirt!
- CAPTAIN PIT STAINS: It rained on my first day of jury duty. It was in no way hot. So it was a mystery why this guy was sweating his balls off all morning. Raise your hand if you’re sure? Um, no, not YOU. It's called anti-perspirant. Try it.
- JOKERFACE: This is what happens when you get ready in the dark. It looked like a box of crayons exploded on her face. And yet, she was unashamed to liberally apply additional foundation, eye shadow, mascara, liquid AND pencil eye liner, powder, lip liner, lipstick, bronzer, and blush while we waited to be called. I think I could have scratched my initials in her cheek.
- TEAM EDWARD: After lunch on Day 2, we were waiting outside for someone to unlock the courtroom. I was approached by a very, very, VERY pale guy. His awkward chit-chat led to talk of vampires. (Of course, why wouldn't it?). He then declared, "I know my Snookie from my Sookie." So I said, "That’s it. You're cut off. No more True Blood for you." He seemed offended.
- THE GENTLEMAN: This was an older guy. He had a pocket square. And presumably, a British accent. I'd describe him as distinguished-looking, which really is just ugly with money. He was harmless, so if I ever go on a crime spree, I'd like him to be my jury foreman.
- THE KNITTER: Somehow, over the course of 3 days, this lady turned a ball of blue yarn into a full-on sweater. A sweater!! She did seem overly irritable, though, regarding the use of cell phones in the jury room. Since she clearly knew how to work a knitting needle, I kept my distance.
- THE CELEBRITY: What NYC jury duty experience would be complete without a celebrity sighting? I felt like I was living in a page of US magazine. Celebrities are people too! Too bad mine was Sonja from the Real Housewives of NY. I don't know what's worse, that she qualifies as a celebrity, or that I immediately recognized her. Anyway, she was very late. And very petite. And very pale. Perhaps she likes vampires too.
So, that's my big jury duty adventure. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.
Have YOU ever sat on a jury? Was it a freak-fest too??
tags: city life