I bitched, but secretly, I was looking forward to jury duty Monday. (Yeah, I don’t have a lot going on right now.) I looked forward to it last time, whenever that was—last year or so? But that time they released us all with nary a juror selected.
But here’s the thing: I stayed up waaaay too late on Sunday night. 6:30 a.m. Monday was not good. Not good at all.
First thing I did when I got to the big juror holding pen was make a B-line for the soda machine. And then I promptly, accidentally bought a Cherry Coke Zero.
THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL CHERRY COKE.
Man, that was not a good start. I chugged it anyway and just barely managed not to hockey-burp myself into contempt of court.
“Juror No. 257?”
“Ok, yeah, you’re going to jail.”
Various judges and juror-corrallers use a mic to talk to the room, explain stuff, give instructions, swear us all in, etc. I swear to god, every time someone finished speaking and went to hand the mic off, I had to stop myself from applauding. Weird how strong that impulse is.
But my heart warmed, because I am a cheesy bastard: I like seeing so many different people who came only to perform their civic duty—a beautiful cross-section of humanity, brought together simply to serve the idealistic essence of our judicial system. I’m always so cynical about people’s motivations; it’s neat how everyone here is entrusted with a responsibility to be considerate, thoughtful and honest in analyzing information and working together to come to a consensus. And just by entrusting people with that great responsibility, they embrace it.
And then they wait. And cough. In addition to a model of human service, the juror corral is a TB petri dish.
Around 11, they called my name among a group that was scheduled to see the judge at 1. So I ventured forth for food.
I wasn’t particularly hungry; my stomach was full of Cherry Coke Abomination and pretzels. But I knew I needed to eat, because fainting in a courtroom is not on my bucket list. After a quick stroll up and down Main Street, I decided a hot dog seemed like the most tempting option.
Oh, god, people. The hot dog. Oh god.
Now, I figure a hot dog vendor outside a courthouse is a safe bet. I don’t know why; just seems like if you’re going to set up in such a pedestrian-heavy area, you’re going to be held to high standards.
First of all, when I walked up and asked for a hot dog, the first thing the old man did was open a little drawer in his cart to deposit his nub of a still-lit cigarette. Homeboy had a built-in ash-tray. He asked what I wanted on it; I suddenly realized I had no idea what to expect of a hot dog cart.
“Onions?” I asked.
“I got a onion sauce that’ll knock yer socks off.” He sounded like Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride.
The hot dog? Was grey. The sauce? Was orange.
He sent me away with, “You never had a hot dog like that before, I bet.” It…kind of sounded like a threat.
I was already getting queasy, but I took an obligatory bite as I turned away—because apparently I don’t want to offend creepy people.
I cannot describe to you the texture. There was no texture. It was so soft as to be almost nonexistent. The bun was more toothsome.
You do not want your hot dog to dissolve on contact.
I did not take another bite.
I walked all the way around the courthouse in search of a trash can somewhere far away from people—because I didn’t want to be seen throwing out a whole hot dog. Apparently that’s embarrassing. I have no idea why my brain sucks like that.
At the far side of the building, I found a trash can…and then looked up to see Council’s. Right there. No idea it was so close. Council’s has one of the best hamburgers in Southwest Florida, y’all. I’m not even lying. And I’d just opted for a hot dog that rendered me hungerless for the foreseeable future. That sucked.