Another Day Single

Soulmate: a person with whom one has a strong affinity, shared values and tastes, and often a romantic bond. 

Those of us who have been married thought we found our soulmates. Statistics will tell you that half of us were mistaken. To those of you who, like me, find yourselves alone in a world that often asks: “How do you define the term “soulmate,” and do you believe in the existence of such a person — for you?”, I say ignore those questions, and be your own soul mate. Every day affords new opportunities to meet your potential soulmate. If it happens, that’s great, if not, you still have yourself. Today might just be my day.

Today for me—Jury Duty. 

My first thought; how do I get out of this? I could fake narcolepsy. Would they excuse me if I fell asleep during the juror selection process? I could doze off during a trial, sleep through pertinent information, resulting in a killer being set free…they wouldn’t want that to happen.

I have completed the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and here I sit in Stage 5—acceptance. I decide to look at today as an opportunity to not only act as a juror, but to judge those around me, my fellow prospective jurors, and I will then report back to you. Who knows, maybe today will be the day that I meet my soulmate.

I arrive at 0800, park in the guarded juror parking lot. Being the sheep that I am, I follow the herd down two long blocks to the administrative building where we are directed to clear security, and report to the juror waiting area.

I take a seat, and then survey my surroundings. I am seated among seven long rows of folding chairs which face windows overlooking the shitty part of town. Had I surveyed my surroundings before I sat down, I would have noticed the cubicles around the perimeter of the room. Those cubicles are occupied by potential jurors who possess the critical thinking skills that afforded them the insight to survey the room before they picked a seat. The chairs at those cubicles appear to be far superior to the ones in the area where I am seated. I’m now sandwiched in.

My peers number close to two hundred, and they are an exceedingly annoying group. The odds of my finding a soulmate among this motley conglomeration are not good. Directly in front of me sits a man of medium height, heavy build. He is engaged in a futile battle to conquer his chair. The result, a potpourri of creaking plastic fart sounds. As I listen to him tune his instrument, I become attuned to similar sounds coming from surrounding seats. An orchestra of plastic a chairs is warming up. I can’t take it. I stand up and dive for one of the last comfy chairs on the perimeter. 

This area has its problems too. I don’t like to judge, although, isn’t that why I’m here? A stupid woman loudly announces: “I can’t turn the speaker off on my computer, ha ha, it’s annoying.” (We know.)

An older woman loudly elucidates the reasons she should not be among us; both her sons are lawyers. That statement doesn’t elicit the attention she seeks from those of us around her, so she makes a phone call. She shouts to whomever is on the other end of the phone: “I’m getting death stares from the other jurors, because you have been ignoring my text messages, and now I have no choice but to call you.” Another juror walks over and asks her to take her phone call out to the hall, at which point she huffs and puffs and ends the call. 

A menacing looking man with a bright red face seated at my left is watching a movie on his laptop…on full volume. The woman to my right yells at him: “Don’t you have headphones?” I don’t catch his response, but she says something that I believe is of Latin origin. I start fear for my safety, and thankfully, that’s when the first group of numbers are called over the loud speaker…hers and mine included. Red faced man is not called. It is 10:00 AM, and those of us in the first group line up in the hall where there are a few chairs. 

A young man offers me his seat. I say no thank you. I’m very impressed by his chivalry, but then I wonder why he singled me out. Do I look that old? There are other women standing, many of them are much older, and none in the top physical form that I display. (What a jerk.) After 30 minutes in line, just when I start to wish I had taken the proffered seat, our group is told to go back to the waiting room and sit down. The case we were selected for has been postponed. I return to my seat, my nemesis (not my soulmate), red faced man is still sitting there. In celebration of my return, he lets out a loud belch. I tell myself I can ignore him. I try to enjoy my padded seat.

It’s now 11:05 AM, and I’ve already learned so much because there is an educational video playing on a television monitor. Some statistics: Less than 2% of cases go to trial, the American jury system has origins as far back as Medieval England and King Henry II, who ruled from 1154- 1189. …okay, that’s two statistics in three hours. At this rate I should have an entire list by midnight. 

A new group is finally called at 11:30 AM. I still sit. Ten minutes later another group is called, red faced guy is one of them. I feel bad for everyone in his group. Those of us still waiting are told to take a two hour lunch. Two hours of free time in the ghetto, what a gift. I stay in my padded chair, and notice that I am only one of twelve who do not go to lunch…we all have comfy chairs.

About an hour before lunch break ends, and before the crowd starts to trickle back in, I find I have a new seat mate. I can tell you that he ate some kind of stewed beef for lunch, probably brisket. The room is nearly empty, but he sits right next to me with his giant white styrofoam cup filled with crushed ice, and while he sits there smelling of cow flesh, he munches on his ice. I can safely say that this man is not my soulmate.

As I listen to bodily sounds such as snorting and grunting, and the sound of someone unrelentingly trying to suck food out of his teeth, I wonder if manners have deteriorated in recent decades, or if the world has always been populated primarily with people who poses no self awareness.

My day as judge of jury has ended. I have been released from jury duty and will go back to my usual work tomorrow. Another day over, and single life has maintained its appeal. I could do worse than myself for a soulmate.

The Daily Post, September 28, 2015, Daily Prompt: Yin to My Yang~ How do you define the term “soulmate,” and do you believe in the existence of such a person — for you?<a href=””>Yin to My Yang</a><a href=””>Yin to My Yang</a>

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