Monday, July 30, 2007

Cricket Duty

What is it about our county courthouse? Is it infested with insects all year?

The last time I had Jury Duty, it was roaches, but today we were treated to crickets. Thanks to all the weird and abundant rain recently, we’re enjoying a Bumper Cricket Crop. (It’s all over the newscasts & newspaper…how they’re EVERYWHERE in Abilene! And they seem to have made the courthouse Cricket HQ…)

SIDE NOTE: Oh, and to my Yankee friends (that’s YOU, Melanie!), I don’t mean those little brown field crickets that are smaller than your thumb…I’m talkin’ BIG, black, MEATY bugs that cast a shadow. When they fly into you, it packs a wallop! When you step on them, there’s a powerful, audible crunch as the exoskeleton explodes…and then actual…well, mass. Volume. Gristle. It’s not like stomping on an itsy-bitsy spider and wondering if you got it or not…

This happens in West Texas every once in a while. Once back in the ‘Eighties, thousands…maybe millions…of crickets “beached” themselves in a sheltered corner of the Margaret and Herman Brown Library at Abilene Christian University. (Youthful scamps will, on occasion, pull some of the metal letters out of the bricks to make it the “Margaret and Her Brown bra” building.)

Anyway, the pylon of cricket corpses (well, *some* were still kicking) was perhaps 20 feet high as they tried to reach the lighting near the roof. Sure wish I had a picture…mere words can not describe the black, undulating WALL OF CRICKET LEGS you would pass on your way to class. Shudder. (That year, one rascal put a big sign on the boys’ dorm: “ACU: Abilene CRICKET University!”)

Today, there were crickets in all phases of life…hopping, writhing, deceased, half-crickets, bits of cricket…all over the courthouse. Not just in doorways or corners, either…

...but under our chairs... in the bathroom stalls... the Snack Bar, everywhere. (One LUNGED at me when we were dismissed for a break; Falisha would have come out of her sandals!)

Jury duty was boring and uneventful this morning; after about an hour, 40 of us were picked for 104th Circuit Court tomorrow. (I’ll be the one in BOOTS.) And since it was so dull, I’ll post below the story of the last time I tried to be a Good Citizen.


March 3, 2003

Well, I may have gotten an unintentional "Section Eight" on jury duty today.

I got there about 15 minutes early, and there were already over 150 people there. (The taped message jurors were instructed to call over the weekend said to appear "Monday as summoned"; many people thought the poorly-recorded woman's voice said to "appear Monday AT SEVEN." By 8:30 a.m., those folks were hopping mad!)

Anyway, I picked a seat in the far, back corner so I could spread out with my school stuff. Besides all my Sugar Buster snacks and water, I had 2 books plus a professional magazine in a hard, protective cover that librarians route to each other; I needed to spread out so I could write down titles & ISBN numbers of the titles I wanted.

Well, after about 15 minutes-- just as the room was full and it was nearly time to start--a ROACH crawled over the top of my magazine!!! I gasped, flung the magazine against the wall, and did several large leaps down the congested aisle. HUNDREDS of faces turned to look at me. Embarrassed, some gibberish came out of my mouth that sounded something like "BUG!! There was a bug. ROACHES!! There's roaches over there."

Some people just shook their heads at the Crazy Lady and turned back around. The ones who continued to stare saw that I was not completely insane--a GIANT roach that looked like an oversized golden raisin with legs & antennae crawled up the wall behind my chair and into a crack near the ceiling.

Oh, and the man who came to my "rescue" would not kill it because, as he announced not once, but *twice*, to the curious onlookers, "Roaches are an important part of our ecological balance." (Yeah. Who's crazy now?)

So anyway, a few minutes later, a lady sat down in the roach chair I'd just vacated. I thought it was only fair to tell her about the roach and its wall crack refuge not far from her head. She laughed and said that if the court clerks had hidden surveillance cameras on the jury pool, I'd be dismissed without being assigned.

Sure enough, after the room was thinned with a round of juror disqualifications, then exemptions, and then pleas to the judge to waive duty, the deputy called 3 sets of 40 people, and then two groups of sixteen,and then the court clerk told the 20 of us left standing in the back that we were dismissed. As we picked our way through the seated, chosen people, there was some distinct grumbling about how we were the lucky ones. My sister said that everyone probably thought I did the little Crazy Display on purpose to get out of my civic duty. ("Sure...she's crazy, all right...crazy like a fox.")

Insanely yours,

UPDATE: Day Two of jury duty was a bust. Packed Mere Christianity (on a friend's borrowed iPod) and Shackleton's Stowaway in hardcover...but talked to a friend for more than an hour instead. (We stood in the courthouse hallway for about 45 minutes before we joined our fellow jurors on the floor.) After nearly an hour and a half of waiting, the judge came out and dismissed us all because the case was postponed...which is probably just as well because my body is ACHING after yesterday's exercise frenzy--a 4:30 BodyPump class, a 5:30 Advanced Step & Abs class, and then a mile and a half walk with May Bee, a friend, and her greyhound, Tommy!

A little sore and looking forward to curling up with a good book in the air conditioning this afternoon,


Kirsten said...

I forgot you were going to do your duty today, and again tomorrow...I'm so proud of you :-) and I am glad it isn't during school hours ;-)

Oh, well, I know you are going to come home with wonderful stories about the fun animals in Abilene, just think, last time Roaches, this time a cricket, what can it be tomorrow? A Snake, a scorpion, or just a beetle? Curiously waiting for your report tomorrow!

irene said...

I didn't know that you could take a camera to jury duty? Loved the ACU stories.

Melanie said...

YUK... and to think, I complain when we have a cricket or two inside (because of the constant singing!)

Nnaaa, I'll keep the northern crickets!! :) At least they were fun to catch when we were kids!! :)

Love Ya,
Your Yankee Friend!!