Josh's Jury Duty

Josh Ring

The following are six things I remember from my term as a Grand Juror:

1.     In the lobby of the building where the Grand Jury is held, there is desk with a metal detector. Every time I came into the building I had to show my Juror pass to the guard and go through the detector. The security guards never said anything to me for almost the two full weeks I went to jury duty except "Next." I don't think they recognized me, but I saw them four times a day at least. I recognized them. They were big. All of them had shaved heads and wore blue uniforms. One of them wore glasses and had a goatee. On the second to last day of my service, he looked at me. I showed him my pass. He nodded to me. I emptied my pockets and put my wallet, watch, and a pen in a grey plastic tray. As I put my bag on the conveyor belt of the x-ray machine, the security guard next to the metal detector looked at me and smiled. He told the guard wearing glasses and a goatee to read my shirt. It was Mister Softee ice cream t-shirt that I had bought from an ice cream truck. "Mister Softee…" said the guard wearing glasses and a goatee with a slight rise of pitch in his voice. "Nice shirt," he said. I said thank you as I walked through the detector. The guard next to the metal detector said, "Yeah, it should say, 'Don't stop the music' though," and smiled at the other guard. I smiled politely. I took my wallet, watch, and pen out of the plastic box and got into the elevator before I had the chance to put my stuff back into my pockets.

2.     I had to take the train to jury duty everyday. I had to get from the 86th Street station to the City Hall station all the way downtown. I took the 4/5 express train. It was four stops. On the second day of duty, the trains were running very slowly. An announcement came over the loudspeaker saying that the trains were delayed. I looked at my watch and exhaled loudly as I shifted my weight from my left foot to my right. When I finally got to the jury room, I was twenty minutes late. A case was being presented to the Grand Jury. I opened the door slowly and saw the attorney in the front of the room. He was talking about the charges. I walked as quietly as possible to the row with my seat. I squeezed past one person to get to my seat. I didn't say anything. I didn't want to disturb the proceedings any more than I was by waking in. When I sat down, the man next to me who I had had to squeeze past whispered to me that I should've said excuse me. I said that I was sorry and sunk back into my seat. After the Grand Jury had voted to indict the defendant on all charges, I explained to the man next to me that I was sorry and didn't mean any disrespect, and that I just didn't want to disturb the proceedings further. He nodded and looked away.

3.     Once, on our lunch break, I was walking down the hall of the courthouse to the elevators. I was going to go to Chinatown for lunch. One of the other jurors was walking next to me. He was a very large black man. He looked like a bouncer at a club. He had a shaved head and a goatee, and was chewing on a toothpick. He asked me if I had ever done jury duty before. I told him that I was too young to have ever done it before. I smiled and let out a short, sparse laugh as I scratched the back of my head. When we got to the elevators he turned to me and put his hands together and smiled as he said, "It's interesting though, isn't it?" I said, "No." He stood there in front of me. I couldn't tell if he was still looking at me. He had a lazy eye.

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