March 11th, 2011, I get off work and head home. It’s sunny. A bit warm. I’m happy. Check my mailbox before I head to the apartment. Sift through, see some bills, coupons, a catalog and…OH NO, there it is….JURY SUMMONS!!!!! Like a knife through the heart, I knew this day would come. First I’m upset, “WHY ME!” Then I’m mad…”Couldn’t they have chosen someone who DIDN’T have a job?!” Then I see that I’m on standby status and can call the night before to ‘verify’ that I need to show up. I notify my boss but say a few quick prayers that I won’t have to go.
April 3rd, 2011- Ring ring. “Group 1 must report..” Dang it! I’m so ticked, I don’t even finish the rest of the recorded message. ::CLICK:: Off to find a cute outfit and an offensive book.
APRIL 4, 2011
5:45 am– ::HONK HONK:: The alarm starts to ring. So not ready for this day. Can I call in sick? SNOOZE.
6:00am– Okay, fine. I realize I must get up.
7:00am– An on time departure has me eating breakfast in the car, but missing all traffic on the expressway as I head into the city.
7:30am-I arrive at the ‘Orange Lot’ of Turner Field as instructed to do so on my jury summons. I am told I do not have to pay to park and a bus will be by to pick me up shortly. With my water bottle, book and fully-charged iPhone, I board the Fulton County Shuttle Bus. This little wonder, actually multiple wonders, drives back and forth, up and down MLK, Pryor and Hank Aaron delivering government employees (and jurors) to their destination.
7:32am-Arrive at the courthouse. Wait, what?! A two minute bus ride?? Pretty sure that is about a 5 minute walk. What a waste of tax dollars. STRIKE 1. As we’re walking in, we’re greeted by a rather friendly Fulton County Sheriff’s Officer in a clean brown uniform. He says, “Welcome to the Fulton County Courthouse!”. The lady next to me asks, “Is this where we come for jury duty?”. Ohh lady–Yes, this is where most people come for jury duty, but we’re taking you to the jail for asking a stupid question. Strike 2.
7:45am-I am through security and getting settled in a large room that seats 450. Whew, what a morning! The room starts to fill up quickly and I begin to people watch. After about 45 seconds I’m bored and delve into my book. Just then, a man with a raspy, but loud voice and stinky breath sits down next to me. He says, “First time?” “Yep.” I reply, going back to my book. He doesn’t stop, “I love coming here. It’s such a wonderful experience and I love fulfilling my civic duty. I hope I get picked!!” Better you than me, big guy.
8:30am– They lower the lights and turn on the projector. We watch a 20 minute video highlighting the specifics of jury duty like: 1) understanding that many chosen jurors cry because they understand how important their job is, and that is okay. 2) comprehending the idea that we can forfeit our $25 juror allowance and instead make a donation to the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library (PUH-LEEZ!!) and 3) are notified of the wi-fi passwords. Following the video, we hear a brief speech.
9:00am– SNACK BREAK! Wooo!! After all that work, we have a break.
9:30am-……….waiting to reconvene from snack break…..
10:00am– …..Waiting…Still nothing. Thankfully, the ladies behind me are having an intriguing conversation. One lady is detailing how she is glad she didn’t have to go to work today because she “needed some vacation time” and was able to sleep in. Vacation time? You call being held captive on the 7th floor of a government building vacation? Clearly we live very different lives.
11:00am– 60 jurors are called in. Roughly 240 remain. I think I’m starting to develop a twitch from listening to the people around me chomp on chips and slurp their drinks.
11:18am-Becoming restless, I decide to take a walk. Inevitably, I wind up at the vending machines. I think I’m in the mood for some peanut M&M’s. I wait in line and when it’s my turn, I step right up. I put my first quarter in when I’m bombarded by this beast of a woman. “EXCUSE YOU!” I say, as she puts her dollar in snatches the last peanut M&M’s.
UGH!!!!!!!! She walks away with my peanut M&M’s and without looking back.
11:28am-Another 50 people are called. Not me.
11:55am-LUNCH BREAK! Thank goodness. After reconvening our 9am snack break at 11:28, I was concerned we’d have to sit here too long without a break.
NOON-I venture to the cafeteria where I am greeted by fried chicken, beans and a line of 7 vending machines, two of which dispense different kinds of icecream treats. I think to myself, ‘Michelle Obama would be MORTIFIED if she saw this food spread!” I skip the cafeteria and opt for a bag of cheez-its. Michelle may not like processed foods, but after the M&M tragedy, this was just what I needed and satisfying none-the-less.
1:00pm– Everyone returns from lunch…except the people who work there.
1:30pm– They announce that if we are still sitting in “this room”, there is a possibility we could be stuck here until 8 or 9pm. Panic erupts in the room as if an imminent Earthquake was announced.
2:10pm- 100 people are released to go home. Not me. We should hear another update around 3:00pm. I begin to itch.
3:37pm– I am released with a group of 14 people, the others left behind–SORRY SUCKERS! We all hussle to the elevator and hop on as quickly as we can. We scurry to the street. IT’S OVER!
…Not yet…I have to take that stupid, tax-payer funded bus back to the orange lot. So we head to the stop. And we wait. And wait….
4:00pm– The bus arrives. Apparently, this efficient government ease-mobile runs every 15 minutes during non-rush hour hours, and there’s a “possibility of it being late”. Whatever. Take me to my car.
4:05pm– So happy to see my little car sitting in the parking lot, all covered in pollen. I hop in, roll the windows down and peel out without looking back.
I understand that we have a civic duty to participate in the legal justice system, and I am thankful that such a process exists. But I have to wonder…who is really on trial? The criminal? Or my mental ability to sustain a day like that?