As most of us graduate college and transition into adult life, we often find that it is not a very smooth transition; learning how to manage banking crises calmly when we get charged obnoxious amounts for overdraft fees and don’t have any money to begin with, or having our parents doubt our every move because they simply don’t think we can handle the insurmountable task of being an adult as good as they can yet, when they were 21-years-old, they definitely made way better decisions than you do now; feeling the pressure of student loan payment deadlines that threaten to ruin my credit score for life if I cannot pay them immediately on time. To add another fun activity to participate in during adult life, you receive the dreaded letter in the mail, one that you thought may never actually come: it’s time for jury duty.
For a meager $40 a day that I highly doubt I’ll ever actually receive, I am held captive by the Town of Southampton Village Justice Court.. As I sit in the clockless, windowless room, the only clue as to what time it is or planet I’m on is the TV airing Rachel Ray’s cooking show, which I know starts at 10 a.m. I sit and wonder what better activities I could complete on this rainy Tuesday. I realize that my cell phone is locked in my car and it becomes clear to me that Instagram and Facebook really are the cocaine of today’s youth; when we can’t catch up on or update our own feed we become irritated, confused, antisocial and fidgety human beings.
Instead of being in this prison, I should be training for the half marathon I have coming up, selling multiple items I own worth $40 or more on eBay, celebrating my friend’s birthday, drinking a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper at a location of my choosing etc. I could be in my room singing, recording and uploading a song to my SoundCloud page, having a much-needed phone call with my much-too-far-away Brooklyn boyfriend, or chatting with a family member in Hong Kong, London or Paris, brushing my pet Beagle, cleaning my house, or jumping out of a plane; forced to hear Kelly Ripa’s shrill laugh and Michael Strahan’s deep chuckle when all I want to do is unplug the television in the front of the room and listen to my iTunes. I can’t wear headphones because those weren’t allowed either, because clearly this was a high security case in a high security building in Hampton Bays, New York. Cut off from all communication, I have no alerts, tweets, Snapchat stories or precious text message conversations. Only myself, my solitary, ugly thoughts and about 50 other bleary eyed fellow jurors.
This stupid commitment is preventing me from eating the bagel I just bought and the coffee in my cup holder that won’t be hot when I get back to my car. I bite my nails and watch people rearrange their outfits again and again, yearning for their beverages and freedom, but instead getting served with some bureaucratic bullshit. I have recognized and acknowledged at least four local faces. The woman in front of me stating that she just moved here and couldn’t believe she was summoned for jury duty so quick in a new town. Another woman was just served with her second Town of Southampton jury duty summons in less than one year’s time, still not guaranteed that after today the crucial civic duty would be fulfilled. There are children to be cared for, meals to be prepared, errands to be run and shopping lists to be crossed off.
Yet, here we all sit. Collectively groaning about the inefficiency and wastefulness of the town we all share and love, sitting and waiting until we can finally be dismissed and go about our lives. The case was, in fact, dismissed after two hours and fifteen minutes of sitting idle and filling out paperwork. Oh well! At least I had a sultry Zooey Deschanel printed on the cover of Cosmopolitan’s June issue to keep me company. What a glorious morning.