Free Juror Parking
It was one of Those Mornings™, the kind that you know are going to find you on one of those days when you aren't looking; the kind that, once fate decrees is yours, is inescapable.I left fifteen minutes earlier than I believed I needed to, but as I crossed the city to reach our compact little downtown, I realized it wasn't going to be enough. Worry caused me to push the accelerator a fraction of an inch closer to the floor before I realized something so odd and so silly that it made me laugh out loud:
What were they going to do to punish me for being late, put me on a jury?
As I made my way through downtown, carefully following the directions to reach the fabled Free Juror Parking, I called the courthouse and apologized. "I'm stuck in traffic," I said, "but I didn't want you to think that I was skipping out on jury duty."
The voice on the other end of the phone chuckled and told me to drive safely.
I thought I had escaped the grip of That Morning™ through the power of modern cellular technology, until I reached the fabled Free Juror Parking—or, at least, reached the cheerful orange sign and uniformed police officer informing me that juror parking was full and would I please go down the street and park there?
Great, I thought, now I'm even later. Just what I need—my county clerk thinking I'm a dork.
After one near-collision with a moving vehicle that I swear wasn't there when I checked the rearview mirror, I maneuvered the Jetta into a parking space. Yes, it's true, I can fish out my key fob and fire the Lock Door mechanism while simultaneously slamming my car's door shut with my butt and taking off in a dead run. In heels. And a skirt.
That, my friends, is one of the tests of true womanhood that they don't tell you about in your high school health class.
On my way into the courthouse I mentally checked the contents of my bag: knitting, needles, scissors, snacks, drink, and—
I was halfway through the checkpoint before they stopped me.
"I can see that you knit, but if you're here on jury duty, tomorrow…" He pointed to my bag. "Bring smaller scissors. We're really not supposed to let scissors this large through."
I nodded, and headed upstairs. Stupid courthouse architecture. Yes, I could see where the second floor was, but where did the 2xx numbers begin? Where was this mythical room 217? As the laws of probability were still in effect, room 217 was on the last portion of the second floor that I checked. I all but skidded into the room, juror summons in hand, and presented myself penitently to the face of the county clerk, who was surely ready to devour me whole for being fifteen minutes late.
"I'm sorry. I called…" I apologized, trailing off when I realized she was counting … something. Interesting. That was a massive stack of juror information in her hand, I thought. She finished her half-audible count and looked up at me.
"Do you have any reason that you need to be excused from jury duty?"
I thought about it. I'll admit this weakness, because you are my friends; yes, I stood there and asked myself if I was going to be like a lot of people I knew and try to get out of jury duty, or if I would put my money where my mouth was, and be honest.
Honesty won. "No, I'm pretty much the perfect juror." I shrugged, feeling at peace with my fate, having said the words.
She put down her slips and stared at me. One moment became two, became three, became an interminable four. "Think really hard."
In that tiny blip of a moment: huh? Did I say the wrong thing? Is she toying with me? Waaaaaaait. Is she—no, she couldn't, not really… I stood there, clutching my bag of knitting and snacks, and said the only thing that came to my mind: "Well, I am hypoglycemic, so I'll have to eat every couple of hours."
She took my juror summons and began scribbling on it.
"The judge hates it when people eat in the courtroom. You're—" and the scribbles coalesced into words—"excused." She winked at me. "We have too many people this week and will have to dismiss about 30 people. Go home."
As I walked out of the courthouse, I plugged up my earpiece.
"Jeff, you are not going to believe this…"
… and to you, my friends, I solemnly swear that is how I got out of jury duty.