Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sitting Here in Limbo

Yesterday, after calling in all week, Nassau County finally told me to report to jury duty. While my co-teacher gave a test we'd prepared, I drove in to parking lot 14 of Supreme Court Drive and reported. I went through the metal detector, filled out a form, and sat myself in a big old room looking at what appeared to be a judge's bench.

Actually, though, it was some sort of prop to make us feel the gravity of our situation. Above the bench was a huge screen that rolled down so we could learn about what a trial was. I watched the video, but I've also watched a lot of Law and Order. All due respect, the TV show explains the same process just as well, but more dramatically. I rated the video developing.

Then there were a lot of calls to our sense of civic justice. You would want to be judged by someone objective, like you. It was nice that they gave me such credit, not knowing me from a hole in the wall. It's important you do this duty, they said. It will just take a few days, usually, unless of course it takes longer. If your employers have more than ten employees they need to pay you the 40 bucks a day you earn, but just for the first week. I wasn't clear whether the county would pay you the daily 40 bucks after that, but I was pretty glad to have a union job where I get my full salary.

I watched the people around me. I had brought a book called Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen.  Hiaasen writes about Florida, about the outrageous people who live there, and about the incredible self-serving deeds they perform. I got a pretty good start to that book. At first I seemed to be the only one in the room who'd brought a book, but eventually I noticed two others.

Maybe some people were reading books on their phones, but most I saw seemed to be on Facebook. Naturally I too got on Facebook to make these vital observations. An hour passed. Another hour passed. I got on Yelp to see if there was any good place for lunch. They guy who spoke to us said 12:30 was lunch time, but that they wouldn't pay for our lunch or transportation. He suggested we go and eat in their basement lunchroom, but I didn't see any rave reviews on Yelp.

At 12 I started to wonder what was going on. As the minutes ticked by I began to become curious whether anyone was going to call us. 12:16 passed by. 12:26. At 12:27 a guy got on the microphone and said lunch would be delayed. I was disappointed because I had found some sort of cajun/ BBQ diner a few blocks from the courthouse worth checking out.

But the message was one of hope. Evidently, there was nothing whatsoever happening for us in the courthouse, and they were going to send us all home. Our jury duty entailed sitting around in a freezing fake courtroom for two and a half hours, and they weren't calling us again for another six years. They sent us to a smaller room and gave us all certificates.

I actually had a date to go out to a cool Korean BBQ joint in Queens with my department, and my friend Jia came all the way from Manhattan to join us. Before that, I actually reported to my school and helped my co-teacher grade our test. Well, it was in the neighborhood.

Today my wife, my daughter and I are taking a defensive driving course at our library, which means we'll all sit around in some room for six and a half hours. This should be yet another day of big fun, punctuated by a thirty-minute break during which I shall drive home very fast, walk my dog, and drive back very fast.

I guess, as a teacher, I will refrain from bringing my book to the all-day funstravaganza. I don't think I'd like it if someone did that to me.
blog comments powered by Disqus