The Naked Green

2007.3.3 Saturday

Jury Duty

Filed under: General — Mr. Green @ 5.27 pm

My wife wrote a short story on her first jury duty experience:

It all started on a cold and blustery Thursday morning. The night before there had been a sudden, but fierce snowstorm which had made a mess of the streets in the sprawled out city of Colorado Springs. So bad that there were accidents all over town wrecking havoc on the morning commute.

Mrs. Jamie Mayor was due to be at the courthouse at 8:30am sharp to serve her civic duty as a potential Jury member. With her summons in hand and a small map to the courthouse with the roads she was to take to get there so lovingly highlighted in pink by her husband the night before, she grabbed her keys and settled into the driver’s seat of her 1995 Oldsmobile. Unfortunately, the morning had somehow slipped into fast forward and Jamie was late before she even put the key into the ignition. Cursing herself for not getting up earlier, she rolled down the driveway and into the muck, blissfully unaware of the dangers and traffic congestion that awaited her.

Taking her normal route to the interstate, it wasn’t long before Jamie realized that something was terribly wrong. A mile before the interstate entrance ramp, there began a string of immobile cars lined up like ants at a picnic. The frustrated drivers inside appeared to be focusing all their energy on mentally willing the cars in front of them to magically begin moving, or simply to disappear.

Glancing down at the digital clock on her dashboard, Jamie woefully closed her eyes and fought to keep the tension in her head from building to a boil. 8:15am. No way was she going to make it on time if she had to sit here all morning. Thinking furiously through her options, she snapped her right blinker on and maneuvered her car onto a side street silently hoping to use her knowledge of back streets to gain an advantage over her fellow commuters. No such luck. Apparently, there were a good number of other people who also knew about the back streets, and as a result these roads were just as crowded as the one leading to the interstate had been. The situation was beginning to look hopeless.

Frantically calling her husband on her cell phone, Jamie begged him to help her out of her own self-appointed misery.

“What am I going to do?” she pleaded. “Can you think of any other roads I can take? What will happen if I’m late?”

“Well, the last time I had jury duty there were a few people who were late. There was this one guy who was really late, and they chewed him out and told him he had to come back another time.”

“Lovely. Thanks for the reassurance, hon.”

Snapping her cell phone shut and tossing it away uselessly on the passenger seat, Jamie found an opening in the right hand lane and took it, gaining some ground. Resolving herself to whatever her fate might be, she continued plodding forward knowing that there was nothing more she could do to get to the courthouse on time.

30 minutes later, she pulled into the parking lot designated for Jurors and checked her clock. 8:50am.

“20 minutes isn’t so bad.” She reasoned. “After all, there was a snowstorm last night.”

20 minutes, however, quickly turned into 30 as Jamie clicked along in her high heels across the snow encrusted side walk towards the ominous courthouse building. Twice, she had her hand on an entrance door only to be stopped by a sign with an arrow that read, “Please enter using the door on the east side of the building.”

Finally arriving at what appeared to be the correct entrance, Jamie whisked open the door and plunged herself inside. Just 10 feet away, she could plainly see the large metal detectors she would need to walk through and the smug security guards grinning and passing over all who entered with fancy electronic wands. All she had to do was get through this last obstacle and she was home free! Taking a step forward, something stopped her. Glancing down, she noticed to her dismay that she was completely boxed in by the sort of black vinyl tape you see at airports and amusement parks designed to keep people lined up in an orderly fashion. Only here, there was no line. Studying the design, she noticed that the tape was arranged in a series of switchbacks winding its way back and forth all the way to the metal detectors, all set up as if the security guards were awaiting some mad rush of traffic offenders. It was plain to see the path she needed to take, but from her position there was no way to get there. Feeling like a rat in a maze, she looked back at the door she had just walked through. Slowly, she read the backwards letters as the blood rushed through her head…EXIT. At the end of her rope, Jamie stormed back through the doors and for a quick moment considered simply returning to her car and forgetting the whole mess. But, being the good citizen that she was, she persevered.

Now standing on the outside of the courthouse once again, she carefully examined each of the windowed, double doors.

“Exit….Exit….Exit….and yes, Exit.”

Turning to a hoodlum-looking dude standing outside smoking a cigarette, Jamie exclaimed in exasperation, “Do you have any idea how to get into this place??”

With a quick glance at the doors, the stranger shrugged and said, “I have no idea.”

Looking again to the line of doors, Jamie fought to remain calm and kept telling herself over and over again, “You are an intelligent person. You are smarter than a rat. There is just something you’re missing, that’s all.”

Striding confidently forward, she took her chances on one of the unmarked, middle doors, reasoning that these doors were the closest to where she had seen the beginning of the maze when she was on the inside. Breathing a sigh of relief, she realized she had chosen correctly. She was now standing on the inside of the black tape configuration. She proceeded to walk back and forth obediently through 4 parallel, empty lanes and successfully maneuvered her way through the metal-hungry machines and guards.

Meekly opening the large, heavy door that led to the Juror Assembly room, Jamie strode towards the front desk, feeling the eyes of all the jurors who had arrived before her. Expecting the worst, she calmly handed her jury summons to the official-looking, tired man at the counter. Thankfully, the man did nothing to demoralize her. He simply handed her a form to fill out and instructed her to sit with the other potential jurors and watch the video playing on the televisions.

Sitting down in a padded chair in the middle of the room, Jamie took a deep breath of relief. That relief however, quickly dissipated as she looked down at first line on the form which read, “Juror Number _______”

In her haste to get to the courthouse earlier that morning, Jamie realized that she had left the piece of paper with her juror number on it on the dashboard of her car! Sucking up every last ounce of will in her body, she arose and once again felt the eyes of the lot around her. Walking up the aisle towards the counter, the tired man saw her coming and looked up dully.

“Yes?” He muttered.

“I’m sorry,” Jamie said quickly, “But I’ve accidentally left that paper thingy with my juror number on it in my car. Do I need to go back and get it?”

“No, you don’t need it” was all he said.

For the next two hours everyone in the room sat around looking at each other as they all thought about the things they could be doing if they weren’t stuck there. Jamie passed the time by reading a short story by Alfred Hitchcock which, ironically, was about a cop who was being evaluated by a jury for shooting 6 men in the line of duty. Around 10:30, the tired man announced that none of the judges needed jurors today and that everyone could all go back to the business of living their lives. Their duty was done.

As she left the room and headed back out into the street, Jamie couldn’t help feeling like a prisoner who had just been released of her crimes. Pulling out of the parking lot and heading for work, she resolved to live an extra careful life so as to avoid ever, EVER having to return to that place again.

The End


  1. Wow, that sounded intense. I’m glad I didn’t have to experience that this week… it was bad enough!

    Comment by Stephen — 2007.3.7 Wednesday @ 10.13 am

  2. What a Beautiful Story Teller my kiddo is…Big Big Smiles!!!
    Man… I felt her pain & anquish through the whole

    Comment by Mom — 2007.3.16 Friday @ 4.13 pm

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