Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All Rise

     Yesterday I was once again called upon to perform my civic duty.  Normally I would consider it a drag to have to miss work to sit around all day at the court house.  But this year was different.  You see, I have not had a vacation since around the first week in June which was when I took my paternity leave after "Short Stack" was born.  And let's face it, those sleepless nights for the first few months were anything but a relaxing vacation.  So this year, I looked at it as a sort of short break from reality.  In fact, I was almost hoping to be selected for any sort of trial that could last for an extended period of time.  So I, along with several hundred other civicly responsible people lined up to be herded into the Hall of Justice one by one through the metal detectors.  No threat from me, all I had was a cell phone, keys and this beat up old copy of Empire Falls.  (397 of the 480 some odd pages were already a thing of the past but I figured today might be the day that I would finally put the entire book behind me.)  But I nonetheless appreciated the thorough precautions.

     Once settled in, if that's what you would call sitting uncomfortably close to hundreds of complete strangers on a chair that after a few minutes makes your back scream at you, I could finally do what I was really there to do.  Yes we are all there to fulfill our responsibility to society, but what I'm there for is to watch the people.  There's always the realtor on the phone who thinks that the louder she talks to whoever is on the other end of the phone, the more important she appears to be to the 399 of us who are sitting around her.  Next to her is that young guy whose pants hang off of his ass and you can see half of his underwear.  Go ahead and look at him it's ok because his mind is lost somewhere in that overly loud ipod that he is listening to.  Next to him would be me.  I'm the guy fighting against my own body, twisting and repositioning hoping against all hope that I will eventually find a more comfortable position but failing miserably after hours of sitting in this torture device of a chair.

     Once released for a short break, and people are finally out of each other's personal spaces, they seem to take on a whole new personality.  The smokers fire up as soon as they are out the front door.  The social and business butterflies go straight for their cell phones.  The little old man with his red had, green shirt and leather sandals, which are at least 2 sizes to big, scampers from trash can to trash can collecting any recyclables that the rest of us might have left for him.  The most entertaining to me was the pregnant druggie whose uterus was about to give way while she yelled at her loved one on the other end of the phone about how that "God Damn Judge" screwed her again.  "He got me on fuckin' probation violation again, that motherf***er."  Yep, it's the judges fault sweetheart.  The fact that you are knocked up and obviously strung out on meth is totally not your fault and I don't understand why his honor doesn't see it your way.

     Then it happened.  I was selected with a group of 45 other people to go to Department 1 that was going to meet up after lunch at 1:30.  So out we all herd again like cattle to feed.  The only thing missing was the branding iron, thank God.  Having discovered the same restaurant last year, I quickly ran across the street and down a way to this little Mexican joint.  Because it's always a good idea to fill your stomach with spicy foods when you are going to be sitting all day in a place that requires your undivided attention.  What a fool I am.  It was a damn good Burrito though.  And why wouldn't you wash it down with a bladder buster sized Coke?  It makes sense doesn't it?

     After the lunch break we all filed back in......Again.......This time we sat there and waited.......and waited........and then waited some more.......We waited for what seemed like days.  I tried to get lost in Empire Falls as planned, but the chair that was having its way with my back and the hint of an oncoming migraine simply had their hooks in me.  Finally they called, "All who were selected for Department 1 please come to the front desk.  Your trial has been cancelled and you are all free to go."  Really?!!  I sat here all day thinking we were going to see some action.  I sat here in pain all damn day in the hopes that it would result in my being selected for this trial only for you to say that I am free to go?  Where is the justice in that?