Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How Little It Takes To Make Me So Happy

It's time for a little learning session here on Aunt Mildred's Porch, so sit down and listen, while I tell you a story.

I recently had jury duty and though this is like the 7th time I've been called for jury duty, never have I served, I dreaded it with every ounce of my being.  It's summer, I have no patience for idiots who get themselves into trouble and I was raised here and teach here, so I probably know a lot of the people involved in any cases going through my local courthouse.

But, being so thrifty, I didn't want to pay the $2000 fine for skipping out, so off I went.

Barnstable Courthouse is a pretty cool looking building and very imposing.  Go look at this link if you want to see a picture and know more about it.  I thought the judge told us it was the oldest courthouse in the US but I've since checked and that is not at all true, so I must have misunderstood.

He had a Boston accent, I didn't want to be there, he reminded me of someone I used to work with and the AC felt so nice, I have no idea what most of what he said actually was.  I was too busy looking around.

It's sure not the courtrooms we see on TV and in movies!  This looks like it must have looked for the past 100 years, with just a few additions for modern times.  I'm sure that clock is original!

And since we were sitting in what basically are pews, I wasn't surprised to see the choir loft up back!

I can't even imagine who sits up there.  The jury panel is off to the side of that first picture and this balcony is directly opposite the view of the books in that same picture.

Something about this rug cracks me up.  It's more like a has been restaurant floor than what I imagine a courtroom to be!  I picture courtrooms to be sterile but this was far from it.

The ceiling is the best part.

The judge said it was handpainted, and original, but I was surprised to see that even with the new recessed lights and other items in the ceiling, that "original" paintings went right over them and incorporated them.  Maybe they are based on the original?   Something tells me the original painters in the 1800s didn't leave space for the future can lights and chandeliers that would one day be in the ceiling!

Anyway, I don't know any architectural terms, but this lovely rotunda-like thing over my head was intriguing because of the fish. 

Here's the learning:  that's a cod.  As in Cape Cod, where Barnstable Courthouse is located. 

The story, according to the judge, is that the cod was originally put on a train as a figurehead sort of thing, but it was in the way, so they cut it off.  Someone deemed it ideal for the ceiling of the courtroom and lo and behold, here it hangs this many decades later.    They incorporated it into the seal of Barnstable County and it's on everything related to the county.

And a judge wouldn't make up a story, right?

So, after we were talked to by the judge and made to watch that excellent juror video that everyone must watch, we were escorted to another court building in the complex because no jurors were needed in Superior Court that day.  The judge told us that the day before, they had impaneled people for a THREE WEEK TRIAL!  Can't you imagine! 

I would have been arrested on the spot if I had been part of that group because I would have caused such a disruption in public at the very idea of being locked in the courthouse for what amounts to just about the last month of summer!

That's the first little thing it took to make me happy that day.  That I had missed being part of that circus by 24 hours.

Once we took our field trip across the complex, we were put in a very fancy juror room.

Fancy for 1970.  Top notch.  For today?  A basement.  And it really is a basement.

We had to sit there for about an hour, with a couple of loudmouths who knew everything and talked like they were out in a windstorm and had to yell to be heard.  The rest of us sat there, eyes glued to books and screens.  I actually knew two of the potential jurors.  One is a colleague and one is a former student who I had in homeroom and also took to Quebec and France.  She's now a junior in college.

See, small town, fat chance I would be able to be a fair and unbiased juror!

So what's the second tiniest little thing that made me so so so happy?  The guy coming in and saying you can all go!  It was only 10am, so I hadn't wasted a day sitting around for no reason.

And I was on a such a high, I came home and ran.  I thought the sun was going to stay in for a little while longer, but it came out bright and hot as I ran, so I pretty much melted right into the pavement.  This was all that remained.

Now I'm off the jury duty hook for the next three years.

And I didn't even get to to say "lock up all the little effers and send me home!"

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