(Original Publication: October 2017. Re-post, because “HOORAY”, I was called again!)
Today I had the privilege of (was to forced under penalty of law) serving jury duty. Now, maybe jury duty in your jurisdiction is a fun-filled, exciting event. The whole day, littered with pizza, donuts, videos games and an open bar. I don’t know. I can only speak of my experience at the Hillsborough County, Florida Courthouse.
This makes the 4th (FOURTH) time I’ve been called. Many people I know have never been called even once in their lives. Some of them were jealous when I told them of my misfortune and responded with,”I wish I’d get called. I’d be a great juror”. Bite me.
So I arrived early, because the jury summons stresses punctuality. Apparently, this doesn’t apply to everyone, because several people wandered in late and nothing happened. All the while, there was a circa 1986 videotaped presentation playing on a TV in the first room I was dumped into.
The video featured a long-since retired local TV anchorman rambling on about France and how our judicial system is loosely based on theirs. Of course, no one was paying attention to it, because there were no explosions and no Kardashians were being interviewed.
The jury summons also mentioned “business casual attire”. People showed up wearing sneakers and jeans. One guy had on a hoodie, partially unzipped with no shirt on underneath. Someone wore a Hawaiian print shirt. A woman wore a shirt that said, “Pookie Luv Lantrell” in the middle of an airbrushed heart.
So after a few minutes, someone came in and swore us in. We were then punted into a larger room (auditorium) with about 100 other people sitting in what I would soon know as the world’s most uncomfortable chairs.
Once people settled in, then came the chorus of coughing, hacking, sneezing and the telltale sounds of throat clearing, just before someone hocks a loogie.
5. Jury Duty Is A Cornucopia Of Germs
I’m certain I’ve now been exposed to the flu, Zika, pneumonia, bedbugs, salmonella, anthrax, athlete’s foot, ebola and the bubonic plague.
4. There Always Is One Guy Who Won’t Shut The %$#& Up
I’m actually ok with elderly people telling stories about how things used to be. There’s a lot we can learn from their experiences.
What I’m not ok with is the 40-something guy, wandering around the room, mumbling about his irritable bowel syndrome, constantly scratching his balls and then talking out loud to NOBODY.
I think his hook was just to keep raising the volume until some sucker engaged him in conversation. This guy was 25 feet away and could still hear him talking about how “gassy” he was, while I had in some earbuds. I felt sorry for the woman who made the mistake of talking to him, because this guy felt that every moment in time had to be occupied by the sound of his voice.
It got so bad, I got up and found another seat on the opposite side of the room. And I could still hear him.
3. Lunchtime Is Expensive As Hell
The courthouse is in downtown Tampa. Anyone who has been to downtown Tampa knows three things… traffic sucks, parking sucks and food is expensive. I spent $12 for a questionable cuban sandwich, a bag of chips and a fountain Coke that tasted like water filtered through lawn clippings.
What can you do? There’s nothing within walking distance that is edible for less than the price of a mortgage payment. Even the courthouse vending machines have a different pricing schedule for cash or credit.
I don’t know if I would trust anything coming out of those vending machines. I think one of them had candy cigarettes and cans of Jolt cola in it.
2. WiFi Is Terrible
The last time I served jury duty, they didn’t have WiFi. All you could do is read the same 8-year-old copy of “Field And Stream” magazine over and over again.
I brought an iPad to keep myself amused and used the free WiFi. To say the connectivity was like 1998 AOL dial-up, would be an insult to dial-up.
Have you ever written an email and found yourself typing faster than the words appeared on the screen? I tried watching old episodes of Family Guy on NetFlix. I got four minutes into the episode where the Griffins go to Italy. Then it stalled out. I spent the rest of the time on Facebook, using data on my cellphone.
1. You Make Less Than Minimum Wage (A Lot Less)
Employers are required to let you attend jury duty, but they don’t have to pay you for missing work. Fortunately, you can request payment for your services in the event your employer doesn’t pay you. And that payment is… $15 a day.
$15 for 8 hours of misery. That’s less than $2 an hour. People earning minimum wage in 1975 got $2.10 an hour.
Ultimately, I wasn’t selected. 🙂 But once I was “released” (yes, that’s what they call it when they cut you loose) I was told I wouldn’t be put back into rotation for at least a year.
So, I was called again for September 2019. I can hardly wait to see if the WiFi got any better…