Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Doing My Duty

A few weeks ago, I went to the postbox.  It was the usual mishmash of bills and senselessly murdered trees crushed into a pulpy mess, dried, and then tastelessly stamped with advertisements for suntanning salons.  Yet, hidden among all that advertising detritus was a little blue card bearing the words "Jury Duty".  

Closer inspection showed that it was for me, and that I was being summoned to the local courthouse to do my duty for God and my country.  Further browsing of the little blue card revealed a varying array of threats against my future happiness should I decide not to submit to this summons.

It was, therefore, in an ecstasy of craven fear that I decided to capitulate and rearrange my schedule in order to attend.

In last week's post, I alluded to something which I would have liked to talk about, but was not at liberty to discuss at the time.  Thankfully, I have been released from the obligation to provide further service, and can now share the experience that ensued.

It was bright and early last Monday morning, and I remember thinking, as a gruff and suspicious security guard meticulously and indelicately patted the most tender parts of me, that the day had started so promisingly.  For December, it was a nice day outside.  I was stuck inside.

I congratulated the security guard on having reached third base both in record time and in public as he restored my items to me from the dish in which they were placed prior to having been run through the x-ray machine.

As his face did not betray any amusement, I decided to vacate the screening area as promptly as possible, and soon found myself in the Juror Room.  

It was a capacious room, entertainingly (though arguably predictably) littered with far too many people and far too few chairs.  A full briefing was underway, which largely consisted of a video presentation that was sadly devoid of any audible component.  

It was evident that I had time to kill, as the presentation appeared to be on a loop that ran for hours.   I therefore surveyed the heaving press of burbling and sweaty human flesh, and set my senses to the task of peeling individuals from the larger throng.  

I am, by nature, attentive to my surroundings and the people that occupy it.  This exercise provided some small degree of entertainment, as I began to judge the probable occupations of my co-inmates.  One man wore blue jeans and a North Face slicker, but his leather boots were of a brand that I knew had steel toes.  They were thickly soled and speckled with a mud that had more of clay about it than topsoil.  In addition to this, his skin was somewhat tan and leathery, indicative of countless hours spent in the elements.  I politely inquired as to whether he worked in the construction industry.  He replied in the affirmative, and, quite satisfied with the premise of this little game of mine, I began to search for telling yet subtle truths about the other Jurors in the room.

Moments later, I had spotted a clean cut young man in a button-up white dress shirt, dark slacks, a black leather belt, and dark gray wingtip shoes.  I had just about dismissed him as either a banker or an accountant, when he chanced to cross his feet, revealing the bottoms of the shoes.  They were nearly pristine.  I examined the tops of his shoes again and noted that they showed signs of age but not wear. If this youth had been a white collar worker, and these were his everyday shoes, they would show a lot more wear on the tread.  The more I concentrated on the shoe, the clearer the picture became.  I recalled seeing this style of shoe marketed in department stores several years ago.  While classy, fashion had moved on.  Once I was satisfied that the shoes were several years old, all the pieces fell into place.  The shoes were not regularly used.  The man was young, probably 24 years old.  He did not show callouses on his hands, or the cuts or scars common with laborers.  I decided that he must be a student, probably in some stages of his post-graduate studies.  My analysis was verified through a subsequent phone call that I heard him make.

I wasn't assigned to a case until about four hours later, by which time I had successfully identified a fast food employee by their red and grease-irritated skin and their thick and comfortably soled (though very well worn) shoes, along with an elderly spinster who was unlikely to have ever had children, and a socially liberal charity employee.

The 35 of us who had been assigned to the case were led to the courtroom, and I took my place in the Juror's box, where we were faced off by the attorneys for the prosecution and the defense.  While the above narrative contained amusing moments, it wasn't until I identified myself as a Mentalist that things became interesting...

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