Author Name: JC Gardner
Title: Idle Minds
Well it happened to me again! The dreaded trip to the mailbox gave me the piece of news I didn’t want to read. For the umpteenth time, I was selected for Jury Duty. Dang it, aren’t there other people in Maryland besides me? Am I really to believe that my name randomly pops up each and every time? I don’t believe it. Certainly someone has my name in neon yellow highlighter so there is no way they CANNOT call my name.
I go through the same ritual each time, dialing that number the night before, praying to be excused. I don’t even know why I bother. I should just go in on the appointed day and sit down. My number is ALWAYS in the group to report to the courthouse. I think it is some cruel joke they play on us – making us call that number, then have us listen to everything you can and can’t do; what you can and can’t bring. And after they finish their rant, you’re told to “Press one” to see if your number is called.
I pressed one and sure ‘nuff, I had to report to the courthouse. Dag-nabbit!
I know it is my civic duty to be selected for jury duty. I should give those who want a trial by their peers the opportunity to have a vast and varied selection for their attorneys to choose from. Woohoo. Yippee. Can you feel my glee?
After I got over my disappointment of not being able to go to work, I gathered up my gadgets -- that would be my smartphone, DVD player, Nook and laptop --not to mention my journal, headphones and various chargers. When I looked at all of my accessories, I decided I didn’t want to bring a shopping cart or suitcase into the courthouse with all of my toys. I tried to picture me rolling up with a shopping cart and the court officer’s reaction. Wouldn’t the metal detector just love that? So I nixed the Nook and DVD player.
Upon checking in, security asked me to put my keys and spare change in the little catch-all basket. I looked in the basket and there was a nice-sized pocket knife resting comfortably in the bottom. I told the clerk, “I am not putting my stuff in there.”
She tersely replied, “Why not?”
I said, “That’s not mine and no way am I mixing my stuff up with that.” She looked in the basket. We smiled at each other and she chuckled, “I see.”
Just then, “Tyrone” rolled up on us.
He announced, “Hey, that’s mine.”
Was this knucklehead actually going to claim the knife? The officer said, “Not anymore. We confiscate all weapons.”
He tried to plead his case -- that he was going to take it to his car and that he forgot it was in his pocket. She wasn’t hearing it. It was now the property of the court.
Didn’t this fool listen to the phone message? Poor thing. He probably just “pressed one” to see if his number was called and missed all of that good stuff.
After a 90 minute check in process, I retreated to the “Quiet Room” Now if you know me, I’m anything but quiet. The alternative was to watch an old movie that I’ve probably seen a thousand times and/or listen to people talk incessantly about, well anything – from bad boyfriends to nasty mother-in-laws. Been there, done that. So in the Quiet Room, I find a nice seat (amongst the 50 people), plug in my laptop and get to writing. I thought I could check my email, but guess what? I forgot. The courthouse charges for Internet access. Really? C’mon! So you pay us and then need a portion of it back for Wi-Fi? OMG! I DID NOT pay for internet access and busied myself typing away. I always have something to do.
Did I mention there was a restroom inside the Quiet Room? What a misnomer. The toilet flushed like it needed a muffler – sounded like a mini volcanic interruption. Did I also mention that I could tell who washed their hands and who didn’t? Yeah, I know. T.M.I.
So while we’re in the Quiet Room, mini conversations bubble up. Then “rubbernecking” begins. We all took turns looking at the “rule breakers” Clearly you need to carry your behinds to the other room! But they don’t leave and no one says anything – just a bunch of sighs and grumbling, especially for those who have their “law” books out intent on doing some serious studying.
Oh, there is also a movie playing in the room, with the closed caption on. Wouldn’t you know it’s a Martin Lawrence comedy? Okay, whose idea was that?The occasional laughter again gets the (negative) attention of the most studious jurors.
Lunch time! Hallelujah. We all ran like it’s a flood and we needed to reach Noah’s ark. It was a mass exodus to the cold and rainy streets. I walked further than necessary but I needed some distance between me and the Quiet Room, and I chose to eat outside of the confined walls. I selected a place that claimed to have free Wi-Fi. Thirty minutes later, I was still staring at my Yahoo homepage. Clicking anything on the page or surfing the net was impossible. *sigh* So much for that! I had to be satisfied with my phone’s Internet.
When I returned to the courthouse, I lost my way getting to the Quiet Room. Yeah, I’m directionally challenged – always have been. I’m sure my photo is somewhere next to the origins of GPS.
Eventually, I found my way back and a man was in my seat! The nerve! His laptop charger was in MY socket. No use going buck wild over his mistake. I stared him down but his face was transfixed on his screen. I looked around the crowded room and found a seat next to the soda machine, which welcomed me with a very loud grinding noise. Joy!
After getting myself together – you know – coat unbuttoned, hat put away, finished up a game of Chicktionary – I observed my peers.
One third of the group was asleep. I don’t mean dozing. I mean out cold. One man was even snoring! These were people of different races and ages. They didn’t have any gadgets with them. I know everyone can’t afford it or maybe they are just not interested. But it got me to thinking about how many people I regularly talked to that are unhappy with their life. They are stuck in dead-end jobs. They aspire and dream about doing other things, but they have not taken one step to making it happen. As I observed these bored individuals, I wondered if their time could be better spent doing something, anything!
I’ve had people ask: How do you find the time to write? Well it is not easy! As a full-time working mother and wife with a busy lifestyle, I have to squeeze it in where I can. I’ve already delayed my passion and my dreams waiting for the right moment. Every chance I get to make a dent in what I really want to do, I’m going to try and do it. Sitting there for seven hours and deciding the best use of my time was to sleep was just not acceptable. And maybe, just maybe, a handful of these folks needed this rest because they are so stressed out at home that they finally have an opportunity for a much needed nap.
Okay, stop the madness! I’m lying. LOL My point is this: Tomorrow is not promised. Do you dream about doing bigger and better things? Do you want to make some changes in your life? Then use your time wisely. Plan and act accordingly so that the desires of your heart may be manifested in your life and come to fruition. Tighten up your personal relationship with God so that your steps can be ordered in the right direction. But for heaven’s sake, get something started!
The clerk just alerted us we might be leaving shortly. The Quiet Room was now all a buzz like a cocktail party. Even the most scholarly were packing up, chit chatting. And so ended another day of service for me. Even the man who took my seat has shut down his laptop.
Can’t be too mad at him. At least he was productive!