Jury Duty is one of those things that most people actively try to avoid. It’s a pain. You have to take time off work, find a way into the city, figure out parking if you drove or coordinate the train schedule if you took public transit. Then you have to sit in a room all day to see if you get placed on a jury. If you do get placed on a jury, you have to go to a different room and sit in there for hours while everyone is interviewed to see if you will be picked to sit on a jury (different things). If you are chosen to sit on a jury, you are required to be there for as many days as the trial goes on for. It’s a big pain, but it is one of those responsibilities for American citizens.
So imagine you have to do jury duty. Only it’s January. And it is one of the coldest days so far this winter. AND you’re on crutches. Yeah. So yesterday was not the most fun for me. I had to catch an early train to make sure I got into the city on time. I knew it was supposed to be cold as fuck out so I wore many layers. The thing is, when you’re on crutches you tend to get sweaty from all the crutching around. So I got really hot and then freezing cold because I was in sweat-soaked clothes. Not great.
So I guess I was sort of lucky. I was the second group assigned to a jury. Juror #30. I went to join the group and SURPRISE, the courtroom we were going to happened to be on the opposite end of the building. Any of you living in Philly understands just how far one end of city hall is from the other end. It sucked. Everyone was walking along and I’m crutching furiously to keep up. I kept stopping and just taking a break. Sweat dripping down my back, my face all red, trying to catch my breath and people would be like ‘are you okay?’ No. I’m not okay. I’m fucking on crutches and our courtroom is on the opposite side of the building. Stop asking if I’m okay unless you are going to pick me up and carry me.
So yes, we finally make it to our court room and then find out that we cannot go in there yet, so we have to go further down the hall to get to an empty court room. I plop down in a seat, throw my crutches on the ground and announce to the room to not trip over them. About two minutes pass. Then the guy who was shepherding us around stands up and asks everyone to sit according to his or her juror number. So we all have to move to the front of the room. You’d be SHOCKED at how difficult it is for some people to count above ten. Like really. So we go through and are put in our assigned seats. I again throw my crutches on the ground. Then the guy asks everyone to stand up and raise our right hands. *sigh* So I have to pick up my crutches again and stand. Pain in the butt.
Our courtroom still wasn’t ready so they decided to start the first part of the screening process by having us hand in our surveys. The surveys we filled out downstairs and brought with us. (Except for one girl who misunderstood the instruction to leave the clipboards and bring your survey. She just left everything and had to run back downstairs to get her paperwork.) They had carbon copies in four different colors. Our dude instructed us to tear the pages off and collate. Simple enough. Take page one white and page two white and put them together. Repeat for the other colors. Then (this is where we lost almost everyone) we had to pass the papers to our left. The instruction was to take your copy and put it on the bottom of the pile so that the lowest numbers would be at the top. I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept, but none of the papers were in order. I tried to organize them and realized not everyone even wrote their juror number down on the paper. (Side note, another woman thought that she was juror #30 and we had to get the guy to look up on his cheat sheet who was actually juror #30. She was wrong.) It was a mess. If I were on trial, I certainly would not want any of these people deciding my fate.
There were a few positives…I was shown a lot of kindness from people, given a lot of help. This one woman befriended me and wouldn’t let me carry my own bag the entire time we were shuffling around from sitting to standing to moving to another room. She was very sweet. I also had people holding the doors for me pretty much everywhere.
We finally moved into the courtroom we were supposed to be in and they began interviewing everyone. To make things move more quickly, as soon as #1 went into the room, #2 was supposed to be standing right next to the door. This worked out pretty well. When #29 went in, I crutched my way over to be next to the door. I navigated the steps and everything fine and just stood there waiting. #29 came out and I went to go in but the guy told me that they weren’t ready for me just yet. So he found me a chair and I sat by the door, which is where the judge’s chair is (but I guess I wasn’t allowed to sit there) for a few minutes. Then he came out and said they would need more time and I could go back to my seat across the room. I asked if this meant I could go home and he said no. So I gathered up my stuff and crutched over to my chair. They decided not to interview anyone else after we waited for about fifteen minutes. We were told to go on lunch and return at 1:30pm to the original room. There was one woman who asked how she could make sure she was never summoned to jury duty again. “I’m too old to be coming out to do this” was her reasoning. I wanted to respond Bitch, I’m here and I’m on fucking crutches. Suck it up. But I didn’t say that, it would have been rude.
Going on lunch – that was really fun. There aren’t a lot of cheap sit-down places right around city hall. I remembered there being a Subway and figured that is close enough, although not as healthy as I would like. So I head in the direction I believe Subway is in. I crutched around the building before finding the sign for Subway. I make my way over there, take a break for a few minutes, then finally get in front of the door and make my way in. I look around and realized that this is not a Subway with seating. Nope. But I wasn’t about to go back out in the bitter cold to find something else. I go to order soup and a salad. I was given too many choices with the salad and opted to not get it after all. I order a cup of soup (only size available) and then have to figure out where to go to eat it. I take the bag they offer and decided to head back to city hall. I go in the first door I see and instantly know I’m not in the right place. I say this to the security guard and explain that I’m just looking for somewhere to sit and eat my food. She escorts me into another room, finds a chair, and sits me in the corner. Really. So I ate my soup and the roll I got with it and just caught my breath as I sat there in the corner.
Once I finished eating I asked a different security guard whom was sharing the room I was in where I needed to go. I was told to go back to room 195 to see if I could be used for another jury. When I told her this is where I had to go her eyes bulged out and she told me – in apparent distress – that my destination was on the opposite side of the building. Wonderful. She told me that my best bet would be to go up to the fourth floor and go straight across and back down the elevators. So that is what I did.
I make it back to the jury room and crutch over to check in. Then I asked if I could go home yet. They said that I just needed to wait for the judge to get back so I could get my check. I asked if they could mail it instead and they said sure. So I was like it’s fuck-this-shit-o-clock and threw my crutches in the air. Actually no. I just asked the best way to get to suburban station.
I have never been so exhausted. Every part of my body hurt. I’m not sure how, but I definitely strained my knee. My arms were killing me. My back hurt. And the worst part is that the day before I had decided to add some abdominal exercise to my physical therapy routine. So I did four sets of six-inch leg lifts, holding for thirty seconds. Guess what muscles you use when on crutches? Yeah. So I was seriously sore and completely exhausted.
I would not recommend jury duty on crutches. It sucked. On the plus side, I had a chance to finish my book. So there’s that. And despite the fact that it was so fucking cold out yesterday, at least it wasn’t raining or snowing. That would have been a nightmare. It’s the little things.