Friday, March 04, 2005

Civic Duty

Yesterday I had Jury Duty. While this was a total PITA in terms of childcare and work arrangements, the saving grace was the thought that I might actually have some KWAK (Knitting Without Annoying Adorable Kids) time. After conferring with a local lawyer friend, who assured me that knitting needles would be allowed in the building, I packed up a couple of knitting projects, a couple of books, some coffee, and some chocolate and I headed off to the courthouse. By 8 a.m. I was (somewhat) happily esconced in a reasonably comfortable chair, in a room full of irritated people, knitting merrily along. A few other women had brought knitting or crocheting projects, and about half the other prisoners good citizens were perusing the newspaper, reading books, doing paperwork of some sort, or taking naps. But this meant that about fifty people were sitting around doing nothing.

Actually, they weren't doing nothing. Some were watching TV. Most were complaining, which, technically, is doing something. A good number were calling friends on their cell phones, and having conversations that sounded like this:

"Yup, I'm still in jury duty....yeah, got here an hour ago. No, nothing's happening. It's really boring...there's nothing to do...what?! You're kidding!, I wish I could leave here, this really sucks. I'm so bored. Maybe they'll let us out early. Yeah, I'm just sitting here. Uh-huh. Yeah, I'll call you later. Bye." Then the person would hang up and dial the next person on their phone list.

When I wasn't eavesdropping on scintillating phone conversations, I was fielding questions/comments like these:
"Oh, that's so nice! What are you sewing?"
"Are you crocheting? Oh, knitting....I didn't think that anyone did that anymore!"
"Oh, you're knitting. I can crochet, but I can't knit. My sister tried to teach me years ago but it was just too hard. See, even when I 'm watching you it looks hard."

I was waiting for my favorite comment--"Knitting? Oh, I don't have time to knit!"--so that I could happily point out the irony of this statement in the current context but, alas, I didn't get that one. For once.

But really. These people knew for months that they would have jury duty on this day. Many of them had served before (I know this from all the let's-compare-our-previous-jury-duty-horror-stories that were going on around me). So they had to know that they would be likely to spend some time waiting around. And I understand that knitting isn't everyone's cup of tea ball of yarn, but they must have had something that they could have brought with them to do. Like a letter to Great-Aunt Gladys, or tax paperwork, or something. Listening to them all complain about how their time was being wasted got a bit tiresome.

In any case, it was a strange day at the courthouse, and not a single one of us was called out of the room for jury selection. At 10 a.m. they let about half of the potential jurors go home--but not me. So I alternately knit and read (I couldn't do both as I had to pay attention to the pattern) until 12:30, when they let us out for lunch. I had some fantastic falafel at a Lebanese place down the street, then returned to the courthouse and knit some more until they let us go home at 2:30.

So. Not a very exciting day. And paying $10/hr for a babysitter when I was sitting around at the courthouse, NOT serving on a jury, was a drag (think of the yarn that would buy!). But, all in all, I had some nice knitting time and a nice quiet lunch all by myself. Life could be worse.

Any one else have jury duty stories?