“Why so cheerful?” questioned the perplexed man holding my camera, “You getting your divorce settled today or something?”
This was the only explanation he could muster for the smile on my face. What other reason could I possibly have to request my picture be captured in front of the New York County Courthouse at 9AM?
Positively tickled, I responded, “Yeah, or something! Thank you!”
I retrieved my camera, pushed my sunglasses up on my head, and laughed the whole way up the steps of 60 Centre Street.
The morning had started with swears rather than smiles.
“Fuck. I can’t believe I have fucking Jury Duty today,” I groaned to my cat and I forced myself out of bed. I grumbled all the way to the bathroom, “It’s going to be the worst.” Thoughts of WHY and UGH and INSUFFERABLE lathered up inside me as I shampooed my hair. I brewed my morning tea, adding a spoonful of honey, but nothing tasted sweet this morning. I sipped the bitterness and shuffled to my closet. Radiating crankiness, I stood and faced the daily dilemma: What to wear?
What do I wear to Jury Duty?
Liz Lemon suited up as Princess Leia, Carrie Bradshaw wore questionable cover-alls, how is a New York Cliché to dress? It was a daunting decision, one that could easily affect the likelihood I’d have to serve. I considered obvious choices: the lunatic-look, the hippy-hyper-liberal, the radical-punk-rocker. Then in the back of my closet, I saw a dress I hadn’t worn in months, and everything changed.
I call it my Rainbow Bright Dress. I brought it one summer’s day when I walked into a thrift store post-happy hour. It’s the only item of clothing I have ever purchased while intoxicated. It is more colorful than a Lisa Frank notebook, more twee than a Zooey Deschanel-Taylor Swift love-child. While not particularly flattering, the dress is CHEERY in fabric form. It’s impossible to be cranky while wearing it. [See photo at top!]
I put on the dress and decided that to make the most of the day, I’d have to throw away cliché. See, every one hates Jury Duty. Everyone bitches and moans about it. Everyone tries to get out of serving. What if I showed up happy, gleeful, excited about the possibility of serving, eager to at least share my experience, say, on my blog? No one would know what to make of it! They would never guess this was a front to get out of Jury Duty. Everyone would really think I was a total wacko.
This point was immediately proven by the man I asked to take my picture outside the courthouse. No sane person can be happy about Jury Duty, it does not compute. I pranced up the steps and joined the line of people waiting to get through security. Instead of fuming about the wait, I admired the art decorating the ceilings and walls of the courthouse.
A security guard yelled at me for talking pictures and confiscated my camera. Instead of peeved, I smiled at him, “So sorry sir, I didn’t know! No problem, I’ll pick up my camera when I leave! You have a nice day!” He looked at me like I was insane! Haha, success! I was fully committed to my sunshine-and-rainbows demeanor. Bring on your worst, Jury Duty, for I will have a positive day, dammit, and you will think I’m crazy for it!
Oh, New York City Jury Duty brought it. The film they show you at the beginning is truly demoralizing. It made me want to gauge my eyes out. The only way I kept a smile on my face was to laugh out how poorly it was done. It was as if the director’s intent was to make everyone detest the experience. Why, Walter Cohen, why? Yes, Walter Cohen, I wrote down your name as it rolled in the credits! I wanted to remember the man responsible for directing such a reprehensible excuse for an informational video! How the hell did they chose you? Have you worked since? Are you ashamed of yourself for submitting millions of New Yorkers to your monstrosity?
After the film, we just sat around. There was free wifi, I had my laptop and head phones. I’ve spent countless mornings similarly, on my computer at home. At 12:30PM a woman got on the microphone and announced we were all released. I couldn’t believe it! It was too good to be true! But true it was!
I waltzed out of Jury Duty barely 3.5 hours after I waltzed in. I can’t help but consider it a testament to the power of positive thinking. I put a smile on my face and was granted a New York miracle. The best part? Now I don’t have to worry about Jury Duty for six years!
Actually, that’s not the best part. The best part is that right after I was released, I received a call from one of my best friends from childhood. She told me she was at the airport, on a layover in the city for just 6 hours. Suddenly I had the afternoon free to spend with her! We spent it exploring the Highline. Who ever would guess the date of their Jury Summons would end up so well?