I had to report for jury duty this morning. I was summoned last week, too, but that appearance was cancelled at the last minute. Today, I had to report. It was an interesting experience and I want to share a few observations. Being a people-watcher and curious about human behavior, I always find encounters and activities with strangers rather fascinating. A few observations include:
I took a cup of coffee with me.
When I checked in, no ID was required; they took my word for who I was.
They would not allow me to have my coffee in the court room where we waited for instruction.
I threw my coffee down the sink in the ladies room.
In the court room, a group of about 30 of us waited for further instruction, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder.
My feet did not reach the floor as I sat on the bench. I was glad because it's more interesting to swing my feet. I felt bad for tall people who rarely get that privilege.
A woman behind me was popping her gum loudly; apparently gum is allowed, coffee is not.
It occurred to me that no one in the room had been required to show any form of ID.
A woman to my right yawned loudly 15 times within 10 minutes (I counted), never once covering her open mouth or trying to quiet the yawn. (At this, I thought about the fact that I'd taught my kids to tone that sort of thing down and cover their mouths. I was thankful I'd taught my kids this.)
The man to my left was very nice and we talked easily. His dad was a Lutheran minister.
A man sitting 3 people down on my bench openly stared at me. When I caught his eye, I held it, smiled slightly to break the awkwardness, and he immediately looked away. I caught him staring at me 2 other times.
When one of the court workers, both older women, came into the room, everyone got very quiet, even if the court workers said nothing.
There were a lot of awkward silences. I broke them by chatting with the man next to me. When I broke the silences, everyone else started talking.
The mood in the room was of anticipation, yet nothing happened for long periods of time.
A court worker apologized for the wait, which I found hopeful since we had not been waiting as long as it felt.
I suggested aloud, to no one in particular, that having music would be nice. I was tempted to play songs from my smart phone, but remembered I'd been instructed to shut it off, so I thought better of that idea.
When a court worker came to tell us the case we awaited had been settled out of court, I was inwardly overcome with relief and felt very eager to get out of the room. This was not because I didn't want to serve, it was because the gum popping/chewing and the loud yawning had taken their toll on me.
I'm glad to be home.
I might have to serve again before the month is out. I'm considering taking ear plugs if I am.