Jury Duty


Jury Duty …… a short story by me.

A thin tall black man about 35 years old with a serious voice and an absolutely dead-pan face and mannerisms runs the jury pool room.

“I’ll now call the role. I will mispronounce most of your names. You are much better at pronouncing your name than I am. That may be because you have had it for all of your life. Please do not correct me. Later on, if you are thinking “That boy has been pronouncing my name wrong all day”. I still don’t want you to correct me. If, at the end of the day, when I give you your certificate, and you still feel the need to correct me, you can do so at that time. I won’t care then, either, but you will feel better.”

After roll call, he disappears for about 20 minutes, then returns with a bunch of papers in his hand:

” I have here the forms that you filled out and mailed in. As usual, most of you have made some kind of mistake. You can not use acronyms or abbreviations of any kind. If you work at a bank, you must tell us what bank and what you do for the bank. That’s why there are two different fields. One is “What company do you work for, the other is what is your occupation” You are not a “banker”, you are a “teller” or a “loan approver”. Feel free to use the space outside of the borders if you need more room.”

“Many of you answered “Yes” to questions, 1, 2 and 3 and anticipated that the answer to question 4 would also be “Yes”. In marking yes to question #4, you admitted to being convicted of a felony. (laughter). Yeah, you laugh but about half of you did it. When I give you your form, make the corrections, initial it and put it in the black bins. Again I say, make the corrections and put it in the black bins, got it ?” (Yes) “No you don’t. You say you do, but you don’t. Some of you are going to make the corrections on your form and try to hand it to me.”

He starts calling names of people who made mistakes and I’m thinking “What morons!” Fifth name – “Robert Toy.” I had skipped over one of the questions.

Later – after all forms have been corrected, he disappears and returns in about 10 minutes:

” Good Morning” (mumbles of “hellos, good morning, etc). “No, no, let’s try again – Good Morning” (Good Morning) “That’s better. I’m going to show you a short film now. It’s about an hour long. It would have been 10 minutes if you’d said “Good Morning” right the first time.”

After the film:

“Please take out your parking stubs. All of your parking stubs have been validated. Look at your parking stub. If it has been stamped with a 43, your parking is free. If it is stamped with a 44, that means we ran out of free parking and yours has been partially validated and you will owe $7. For those with a 43, when you go back to the garage, the machines on the ground are going to tell you that you have to pay before you go upstairs. You can ignore the voices that you are hearing. You do not have to pay downstairs. Just go find the car that you can’t find because you didn’t look to see what level you were on. When you finally find it, just insert the stub in the gate and you can leave. For those with a 44 on their stub, you DO have to pay downstairs, so listen to the voices, pay, and then go find the car that YOU can’t find because YOU didn’t look to see what level YOU were on. When you can’t find your car, PLEASE don’t come back here. We can’t find your car, either.”

“Please don’t ask me or any of my co-workers what time you will be getting out. We do not know. We DO know you can go home at 4 o’clock. That’s because WE go home at 4 o’clock.”

“There are vending machines in the alcove. You are on your own with them, especially the coffee machine. Some days it gives a cup, but no water. Some days if gives out water, but no cup. I say again, you are on your own with the vending machine. If they don’t work, don’t ask me or my co-workers for refunds. We are broke and we can not afford it. You have to write down the phone number of the vending company and get a refund from them. Good luck with that.”

At the end of the day, when I got my certificate, I said “Very entertaining, sir.” “Thanks.”

It really WAS entertaining.


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