I have served as a juror once. Quite a while ago. It was a terrible mafia case, and I had to spend a whole week sequestered with other people discussing the murder. I don’t remember the particulars of the organization itself, but now, I have decided to document my experience whatever it will turn out to be. Hopefully, it will be clear why.
America is really a great country, and I was never looking at the “honorable obligation” to serve as a juror with disdain. However, it is sad to see that this country is changing, becoming less people friendly…
After an hour and 10 minutes spent mostly outside in a humid and hot New York morning before coming to the courthouse checkpoint, one is bound to ask – why there is only one station open for check in? There are three of them at the entrance. Do they not know the number of people they call to come? Or, is it a specifically designed experience to show you who is in charge?
People in line all look the same by the time they finally go in – exhausted, sleepy, and humiliated. You do have time to notice things you didn’t see before, though, like the stone carved image of Moses holding the tablets of the Law on the facade of the Court House. If you are like me and have been to the area you don’t even remember when you are impressed with the amount of construction going on. Let’s hope this is because the economy is booming. Am I positive, or what?
Lots of potential jurors, naturally, want to get out. Whether they have small children, travelling plans, no command of the English language (here I thought that was a requirement for a citizenship of this country), or other circumstances.
They allow you to have a bathroom break, and you, of course, discover that for hundreds of people, there is only one bathroom. Why again?
So it’s 11:30 and I am still sitting here having no idea what next. As usual, in most of the office buildings, I am freezing by now, and have a shawl wrapped around me. It helps. Although what I’d really like is a nice cup of Aroma coffee. But this I can only dream about. In two weeks! Soon enough, BH I’ll be drinking aroma if not in my favorite Aroma place on the Jaffa road, at least at the Hadar Mall, which is right by Pardes, where I will be spending my days.
Noon. Still waiting. For what?
By a quarter to one, we are told that we can go out for lunch and come back at 2 pm.
I get out into a good 86F/30C day. Nice, it’s much drier and even though it’s hot, it is easier to breathe. Nevertheless, one cannot stay out in this weather for too long.
The court plaza houses a farmers’ market. I am not sure if it’s only in the summer. Naturally, my first thought is to go to the market. It’s fairly big, although much less pretty and organized that the one I still miss from my days working near Union square. That market is amazing! There is one closer to my present office working only two days a week and only with the very limited amount of foodstuff available. Surprisingly, this market on court plaza is more expensive than the one midtown. At least 25-30% more expensive. Plus, there is no way I can find a place to wash and cut a tomato and a cucumber… Off I go.
Did you ever try to find something to eat that is kosher and in the area, you have no idea about? Thanks to the kosher near me app, I am able to find places at any location. However, what you find there is still a mystery. I went to a cafe on Livingston street all the way telling myself that I am getting a salad. These sit-down do-nothing days make you more tired that working, and you (or is it just me?) are craving things like bagels and pizza. So, I was convincing myself that salad is the only way to go. Once I got to the place, however, the first thing I saw were burekas. Big and soft, they were calling my name, and I, like a rabbit hypnotized by a giant boa constrictor, immediately ordered one with spinach plus a mango smoothie. Surely, I should have known that a kosher place located just five-minute walk from the courthouse, where hungry Jews are stuck with no food, would maximize their earning potential. Little did I know, how much they try and how well they succeed. The bureka, definitely just warmed from a frozen packaged one, tasted just like it should – bland with no semblance to the savory heavenly treat you get in any place throughout Israel. The smoothie that I ordered mango, comes out from frozen strawberries, and I think, I am too stunned to even notice at first, so I try it, and – say nothing. The total bill $15.24!!! By now I am speechless. I am specifically not naming the place, minding the rules of “The Restaurant Guy”, Elan Kornblum, who I respect a lot. Also, since I was on the other side of the counter, I understand that we can never fully know what pressures a restaurateur could be under.
Back to the courthouse, I crawl to be seated in the same chair, trying to study and unable to do so…. It’s 2:20 pm. The saga continues.
3:55 pm same story…trying and failing to go to sleep. Pathetic.
At 4:15, the very nice county clerk comes up and gives an even nicer speech on why they will dismiss us and why this was important for us to come, and how thankful she is for our time, commitment, and perseverance. She is saying that Kings is one the few counties to let you off for the next eight years if we were nice enough to come and endure the day. It is for sure true that the last things and words stay with you. Now I am grateful that I don’t have to come tomorrow, and I thank her before leaving.
Ironically, this experience brought me to my haiku-kind-of-little-things. Next week’s Parsha is Balak. Famously, he sent for a prophet of sorts, Bilaam to curse the Jewish people, but Bilaam couldn’t do so, and pronounced instead one of the well-known phrases: “מַה-טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ, יַעֲקֹב; מִשְׁכְּנֹתֶיךָ, יִשְׂרָאֵל.” How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, thy dwellings, O Israel! (Numbers 24:5)
So, here is my take on this:
Are these people cursed?
Or, are they blessed?
The jury is still out.