Thursday, August 18, 2005

Jury Duty Hell - Part. 3

Philadelphia City Hall I am now stuck in a giant room in City Hall. Fifteen other potential jurors, numbered 31 to 45, have been dismissed for their mandatory hour lunch break. Not me! Oh no, I'm lucky number 26. At least the cavernous room had three monster A/C wall units going at one time. It may have been hot as a blazes outside but the temperature was bearable from where I stood.

Boredom soon settled in throughout the room. People were edgy. Some created small group conversations. One particular one talked about the current school system situation. Participants were a teacher, a mom, a dad, and a psychotherapist. I listened but didn't interject. Another talked about the Harry Potter series. They were talking about HBP (Half Blood Prince). Since I was only on GOF (Goblet of Fire), I steered clear. I don't mind spoilers when playing video games; I hate knowing a book before I have read it. I kept to myself, blowing my nose and trying to concentrate on reading GOF. occasionally, I excused myself to the facilities. I was taking toilet tissue and using it as facial tissues (trying to conserve my personal stock of Puffs). My mind was growing numb.

The legal group was calling on people in random order for the interviews. One was followed by five who was followed by two. WTF! And the people would disappear. No one knew if they were being excused for lunch or just immediately sequestered. People from the original lunch crowd were starting to return. I could feel my headcold from Hades growing worse by the minute. I was starting to feel ill from lack of food; I was O.K. on drinking (there was a water cooler). I would casually glance at someone's watch for the time. The time was ticking so slow and the gaps between interviews was growing.

At about 2:15, the court officer came in our court room. He apologized profusely at the pace the pre-trial stuff was taking. It seems that there was another trial going on at the same time in the court room across the hall. Purportedly, a decision had been rendered and somehow the judge from our case was involved and that was causing a delay in our interviews. He said there was talk of postponing but since it was so late in the day, they decided to press on. Well, yip-yip-yipee.

The good news - we can go to lunch for an hour. I wanted to do the Aretha Franklin freedom dance but I was too out of it plus I have all the coordination of a bull elephant.

A gaggle of people headed over to Reading Terminal. One guy suggested an amish vendor there to me. "They have good soup. It might help your head feel better." I thanked him, but thought to myself the prospect of eating soup in 100 degree weather didn't sound too appetizing. But i headed there with the crowd anyway.

The multitude of smells smacked me right in the face when I walked in the side entrance. Under any other condiotion, I would have had my wallet out and hit each and every stand for the entire hour. But when one feels as crappy as I did, my olfactories were telling my brain to tell my feet to get the heck out of there before my stomach did something my eyes did not want to see.

And I retreated to the only hint of civilization that I can tolerate when I am this sick - McDonald's. Honest, I could have bacterial pneumonia, unable to keep ice chips in my system, but I will be able to eat a Mickey D's cheeseburger and a Coca-Cola. It's a weird thing, I know. So I got my double cheeseburger, medium fries, and medium Coke for a shade over $3. I ate, felt relatively satisfied, took about ten napkins for nasal clearing later, and trudged back to City Hall with a refilled Coke in hand.

I ignored the "no food or beverage" sign on the door and walked back into my prison the court room. I am sure the cold air felt refreshing to everyone, but for me, after about ten minutes, my body was starting to feel the shivers. Damn. A fever must be brewing. That's all I needed. Finally, after having enough of sitting and standing and pacing, I grabbed my HP GOF and my pocket book, curled up like the homeless guy in the church doorway this morning, and passed out in the back of the room.

to be cont'd

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