In a Sow’s Ear 1-11-10
Having never been chosen to serve on a jury, Gladys rather looked forward to a new experience. From a panel of 70 people, perhaps she would be selected? How to comply with the requirements of jury duty? That was the question. Let her count the ways.
Gladys lives on a small ranch a few miles out of town. To get to town at the proper time meant she had to rise from her slumber in the predawn, find her arms and legs and go plodding through the snow to feed the livestock in the dark.
Returning to the house, she donned suitably dignified attire for courtroom service. She pondered what probing questions might be asked and hoped she could respond intelligently. She allowed plenty of time to drive to the courthouse in town and parked in the handicapped spot (sometimes bad knees gives one a slight advantage when it comes to parking).
Bad knees, however, rule out speed or hurry in any form when faced with climbing four jillion steps to second floor. She was passed on the ascent by those with more limber limbs. At long last, Gladys reached the second level and entered the courtroom. Erected a hundred years ago the courthouse has an old-fashioned ambiance. The oaken woodwork has acquired a soft patina; the chairs are like theater seats – secured to the floor with plenty of leg room between rows. If you squint a little, you can almost see ghosts from olden times.
Once Gladys finally arrived at the stairs summit, she lined up behind others who were inscribing their signatures on the roster. Sven, the former (now retired) sheriff (Gladys has known for years) acted as overseer and reminded Gladys to put down how many miles, round trip, from her place to town.
“What for?” she murmured.
“Oh, you get paid mileage,” said Sven.
“How nice,” said Gladys and signed her name.
She took a seat in the front row. As is the case in church, there’s always a place up front since most people tend to cluster in the back of the room. Gladys, however, likes being close to the action. She gazed at the person on trial – a woman who sat next to a fellow, Gladys assumed was the woman’s lawyer. Other black-suited lawyers – a passel of four or five – stood about giving off vibes that seemed to proclaim they were in charge of the world and if Gladys was good, they’d let her live.
Promptly at 8:45 a.m., the judge lifted his voice and in carrying tones thanked all for coming. Then he added that unfortunately, the lawyer in charge of half the case had suddenly taken sick and had to be driven post-haste to the hospital. Therefore the trial would be put off till May or June. And furthermore, there would not be a new panel of people. No, all present would be placed on “hold.” At 9 o’clock, the courtroom emptied of people.
Gladys did not consider the trip a waste. Sven had told her she’d get paid mileage even though no trial had occurred. And while in town, she picked up some dog food and a sack of sweet feed for the horses. And treated herself to coffee and a cinnamon roll at the Java Joint.
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