I approach the bus stop with my husband’s bus pass clutched in my hand inside my pocket. Yes, I’m that person who waited in the checkout line with her check all filled out except for the amount. When we still used checks. Now when someone takes out their checkbook in a line and starts flipping to the check, asking for a pen to write, it’s all I can do not to groan. What, are you from the 20th century or something?
Upon entering the bus I promptly trip over a guy’s leg, apologize, then have to come back to sit next to him because there are no other open seats. Turns out I tripped over his leg because his thigh is taking up half the neighboring seat and the rest of the leg is in the aisle. I understand this is the dread ‘manspread’ I’ve heard about from regular, seasoned bus riders. I sprightly say, “Excuse me!” and plop myself down next to him guilt-free.
I soon become aware that I’m sitting in the handicap area, and do some side-eye surveillance at the other riders I’ve been trying not to look at. (Not that anyone would notice; since I stepped onto the bus it’s been as quiet as death, and every head is bowed down to the god that is their phone.) I still feel like a fraud of a bus-rider, like I just don’t belong here and it’s glaringly obvious I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like any Catholic service I ever attended with my Catholic-raised husband, after my entire row gets up and queues up for crackers and wine at mass, and a sunbeam singles me out in the empty row, hair gleaming like a copper fire, mouth no doubt painted Harlot Red. Stomach slightly piqued because it’s missing crackers and wine.
Day 1, Jury Assembly Room, Seattle:
- I settle down in my chair and let the waiting begin.
- I was the only one who laughed at something in the informational video.
- Nearly dropped my juror badge in the toilet when I leaned over to flush. I laugh in relief that I catch it in time.
- The peanut butter and chocolate protein bar in my purse is melting. And lunch is still a couple hours away. I start to nibble on it and wrap the melted part in the remainder of my jury notice.
- I’m reading David Sedaris’s diaries today, and have been laughing, out loud, all day. And this doesn’t even include the info-vid or the toilet.
- They called out Tonya Harding when assigning juror numbers earlier! It wasn’t her. Well, it was, but not the skater. I’d change my name to Tonya Not-the-Skater Harding if that were my name.
- Later they call my ex-brother-in-law’s name. But it wasn’t him, either.
- My eyes are totally blood shot from allergies today, and I look like I’m baked. Like a potato. Juror material, baby!
- Just read one of David’s diary entries and he mentions Tonya Harding! What?!?
- A woman has been coughing all day somewhere behind me, and while I should be feeling sorry for her, I can tell she’s not covering her mouth properly. She should be excused for hardship. Right now. I make a note to put anti-bacterial gel in my purse if I have to come back tomorrow.
- The guy seated next to me told me he paid $44 for two hours of parking. He said if he has to come back he’ll take You-ber. I don’t correct him.
- I rest my eyes from reading and take a quiet-as-can-be inventory of my purse. I’m that bored.
- There’s a guy sitting not far from me who looks like my ex-husband. Same haircut, glasses, button-down shirt, gray Levi’s. Only a bit taller, and more…swollen. Of course, I haven’t seen him in almost a year…Maybe I conjured him because of the guy who was called who shared my ex-bro-in-law’s name. He’s snoring.
- Places I could have flown to in the time I’ve been sitting in the Juror Assembly Room. Hawaii! New York! London!
- I fear I’ve become one of those women (i.e. my mom) who says “How can these women wear those heels downtown all day?!” Feeling comfortable but frumpy. Frumptable.
- My quads are sore from keeping my balance on the bus yesterday and today, actively trying not to touch anyone.
- I’m going through the metal detector after lunch, and the woman scanning my purse makes this loud exclamation and frantically beckons the wand woman over behind the scanner machine. My heart starts to pound. Did that guy who held the elevator door for me slip something in there? Turns out she was so moved by admiration of my Japanese purse she felt she had to share her joy with Wander Woman. “Is that embroidered?! Japanese?!?”
- There’s a fellow potential juror here, a woman whom I’ve never seen before, who keeps staring at me. I was just in the bathroom so know I don’t have anything weird going on; no streaked mascara, paper on shoe, or dress tucked into the back of my panties action. It’s unnerving.
- A reflection just passed over my plastic badge holder I have clipped to the neckline of my dress, giving the appearance of a dark bug scrambling across it. Naturally I panicked and swatted at it before realizing it was a shadow.
- Half-way through the day we make it into a courtroom. On the elevator up the Staring Woman stands right next to me. She can’t take her eyes off of the guy who presses the button. I’m relieved I’ve been replaced in her creepy attention.
- The first two men in the juror box are wearing identical button-down shirts. I’m mesmerized. And maybe slightly obsessed with trying to figure out if they really are identical.
- Spent some time thinking about how I appear to the attorneys: artistic, funky, liberal, and, if they see my allergy-reddened eyes: stoned little earth mama. At least today’s outfit said that.
- During voir dire (I can’t get enough of them saying this), the state questions a potential juror on a hypothetical situation, and the gentleman started his response by quoting sixteenth-century poet John Donne on love. I can only see the back of his tonsured-head, but want to find him and hug him during break.
- At one point we’re asked to state our juror number and race we most closely identify with, if comfortable. I’m surprised when several say they are White instead of Caucasian, and every time they do I cringe a little. I don’t know why. Have I become hyper-sensitized thinking if you claim to be of the White race you’re a White Supremacist or something? [I’ve since researched this a little (fell down the Google rabbit hole, really) and found that while the two are used somewhat interchangeably, there are more objections to the use of Caucasians, particularly those from Europe, though some, like me, feel like we’re being rude using white. This has been a moment of self-discovery for me.] I wonder out loud, softly, why they didn’t say Caucasian, to the Latina next to me who tilted her head down to hide a smile when the first person said White, and she flipped her lovely dark tresses back and whispers “They’re probably afraid to say ‘cock!” To which I promptly say “I’m going to stutter when it comes to me: Juror No. 80, Cock-cock-cock-asian.” We snicker together in the next-to-last row. I should have warned her I’m trouble. A regular court jester.
- When we finally get to the peremptory challenge, the first one selected to leave the jury box is Staring Woman. No one is surprised. They tell her to wait in the adjoining room where we had our break, but she just continues out the door. The bailiff decides to let her go. An almost comedic selection unfolds, as one empty jury box seat is filled from the first bench of those of us waiting, only to be plucked out by the defense attorney. At one point the next seat-filler crept like a cartoon burglar toward the box, eyes turned on the attorney waiting for the dreaded or wished-for thumbs down. Even the judge laughs.
- With such a high number I don’t even come close to being selected for the final 14, so I’m released. I exit with the others with a sense of relief, though I know I would have performed my jury duties fairly if chosen.
- I use my phone to figure out which bus to take, and where it will pick me up, and wait with the throngs of downtown Seattle worker bees in the sun. Every 20-30 seconds my hand slides into my bomb-free, embroidered Japanese purse to check on the safe whereabouts of my bus card. My bus soon approaches and I breathe easy as I slide into a non-handicap seat and relax as I start my journey home to Shorelandia. The bus is not full, so I don’t even have to flex my thighs.