Monday, April 16, 2007

The Best Part Of Today Was That I Finally Satisfied My Dim Sum Fix

I woke up at 7:30AM today. Normally, I hit the snooze button and sleep for another thirty minutes, but today, I sat up rimrod straight. It's Jury Duty Day! I immediately regretted staying up so late getting those pictures for my last American Idol post. I was a little panicky because I had to be at the courthouse at 8:30. I rushed through my shower and hair routine, and then faced a minor crisis when I was trying to decide what to wear. Have you ever looked in your closet and thought, "Shit, I have NOTHING to wear."? Now in my case, this is a gross overstatement, considering that I have a literal walk-in closet (yes, you can spin around in it, if you want) of clothes. But for some reason, nothing popped out to me and I made a mental note to make a pilgrimage to Barneys sometime soon. At first, I grabbed a sweater but it looked "pouchy" to me which is a direct result of my recent lack of gym discipline. Then I went back in and got a dress shirt with vertical stripes and some black wool slacks, since they're slimming and all that. What Not To Wear would be proud of me.

I headed off in the Noah's Ark weather, whistling cheerfully. When I got to the subway station, I was reminded what the concept of "morning rush hour" means. Seeing as how I almost never take the subway before 9AM on weekdays, I was not used to the mass throngs of people huddling like refugees at the 72nd street stop. And then the pushing and shoving! Ohhhh, the pushing and shoving!

On the way there, I had to transfer to TWO trains. I hate going down to the Lower East Side. It's such a hassle from my neighborhood. Also, the 4/5 is the worst train in terms of crowd control since that is the only train for the poor East siders. After an angry businesswoman shoved me into someone else, I almost decided to skip jury duty and leave New York and never come back.

Thanks to my speediness and general awesomeness, I made it to the Jury Assembly Room at 8:30 on the dot. I immediately realized that this was not the same room I was in last time I did jury duty. It seemed bigger and a tad nicer. It didn't occur to me until much later when I was in an actual courtroom, and the judge spelled it out for me that this time around I had graduated to the Federal Courts from my State Court apprenticeship.

At around 10, the clerk turned on the video, and we watched Ms. Cindy DiBiasi and her fellow "actors," showcase the latest in 80s fashions while telling us all about the virtues of jury duty. I've already seen this video, so nothing much is captivating me. I turned to scanning the room, but all my hopes of a courthouse romance are immediately dashed. It's hard to believe that some of these people are my "peers."

After the video, the clerk collected our summonses and read some more instructions. One line caught my attention: "If you are not a U.S. citizen, you cannot serve jury duty. Please go to the courthouse at 60 Centre Street, Room 139." Um, yeah, like an illegal alien is gonna go turn himself in by telling them, "I was just at jury duty, and they told me to come here because I'm not a legal citizen. Oh and can I get one of those visas?"

Random public service announcement from TCho: the WIFI network that is advertised on the District Court website does NOT work in the Jury Assembly Room, where unfortunately I spent the bulk of my time today. Actually, when the clerk called the first list of names right after the video, I was on it! Woo-hoo! I won! We all lined up and went up to the courtroom. We sat down and then the judge started to tell us, "This will be a short trial. It'll probably be over by the end of this week." Whoa, this judge was smart. He was actually selling us his trial because if you didn't get picked, you would have to go back and you might get picked for a longer trial. It's actually fairly easy to get out of jury duty during the questioning. All you have to say is, "My car got stolen a couple years ago, and I think all car thieves should burn in hell." But I have nothing that exciting in my life, plus with this judge's sales pitch, there was no way I was gonna miss out on this trial.

Well, alas I didn't get picked from the raffle (the courtroom clerk has a spinning wheel where she selects names like Jury Bingo.)

I got sent back to the Assembly Room and couldn't help but be disappointed. But when I got back, our lunch break had started. Yay! The best thing about jury duty in Manhattan is the proximity of Chinatown near the courthouses despite my feelings about that neighborhood. And I have had this major dim sum craving for the past few weeks.

When I returned, I just read for the rest of the afternoon. I was a bit on edge because I had no contact with the outside world since cell phones and blackberrys are not allowed in the Federal Courthouse (they are in State). But I tried to make the time go by quickly.

At 4PM, I got to leave. I have the day off tomorrow, but I'll be back being a model citizen on Wednesday. Cross your fingers that I get on a trial!

I guess I'm supposed to be the Asian kid in the front row.


GrooveTheory said...

All I'm gonna say is ... better you than me. Just going inside the court room gives me the creeps. Don't ask me why.

Ming_the_Merciless said...

Now you got me craving for dim sum. ARGH!!! I'm miles away from Chinatown.