Tuesday, April 13, 2004
News From the Front 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Or from the rear; depending on where you stand. Things are finally settling back to normal after a week of Chicago jury duty, which is a pretty disruptive experience. It's like getting an unexpected vacation, except you get to spend days at the lovely South Side Graybar Hotel.

Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but considering the fact that the moment you enter the court building you're searched, metal-detectored and locked in a tiny unventilated room with 13 other people under armed guard makes it feel a bit like you're in jail. The prison-issue food doesn't help matters any, but at least you get to wear your own clothes, and the parking is free.

The first day's menu: sitting in said locked room for four hours, then overcooked chicken with baked beans, soupy frozen vegetables and sliced bread for lunch, served in a foam plastic tray with plastic utensils. Drinks? Cola or diet cola. More sitting in locked unventilated room for hours with 13 people who have eaten baked beans. These people are sadists.

Second day's menu: the same chicken + the soupy frozen vegetables - baked beans + a can of pineapple + a can of mushrooms = "sweet and sour chicken" on a foam tray with plastic utensils. You get the idea. That food alone is enough to make one a law abiding citizen. At least the deputies were friendly, considering they're armed to the teeth with pistols, stun guns, mace, kubotans and handcuffs, lest we try to escape the confines of the jury room and run to freedom at Popeye's Chicken, outside the building on California and 26th.

"14 people?" you ask, "aren't there usually 12?" But of course; however, two of the 14 are alternates, and they won't know it until the very end of the trial, when they get sent to a separate room and don't get to put their 2 cents in during deliberations. Three guesses who ended up being one of the alternates.

I do still feel kinda gypped.

All this, plus a lesson in civics, a snappy red sticker to wear at all times in the court building (so people know to NOT TALK TO US!) and a lovely, frameable certificate, too! Such a deal!