Life Stories During Jury Duty
In March, I got called for jury duty. Just’In was sure I wouldn’t get called in because I was juror #150 out of 150, but I was, and I went. I’ve never been called for jury duty before, and the process was fascinating. But what I’d like to write about is one of my fellow jurors and a conversation we had.
While I was standing in the first of many lines, I had just come in from outside. I was wearing my trenchcoat and a scarf and a hat over regular clothes– I think I was wearing green cord leggings and a polka-dotted shirt with a teal pullover sweater. My trenchcoat was buttoned because it was cold outside, and an old man was sitting in the row of chairs closest to the line I was in.
He seemed to be staring ahead until he caught sight of me. Then he brightened and gave me a thumbs-up. I was thrown off-guard because I was in such a new environment.
“What? Did I do something?”
“No,” he replied, grinning. “I just like the way you’re dressed.”
“Oh,” I said. I unbuttoned my trenchcoat and took my hat off, then grinned back as I put my hands on my hips. “Is that better?”
He laughed at me.
He was dressed normally enough, but his hair was amazing. It was very white and long so that it looked like he had a bird permanently top of his head. He was clean-shaven, his skin was tanned, and he was skinny. Because he was tanned, I couldn’t tell what race he was and I thought that fascinating. He had no accent, and I went on through this new jury duty process, invigorated by a positive and funny interaction.
After much winnowing, we were narrowed down to a group of 80. Or 50. It’s been two months; I don’t remember. After a fascinating set of questions from lawyers and judge, we were let out of the courtroom to be deliberated about. We stood in the hallway, we went to the bathroom, we were glued to our cell phones, and we milled and conversed.
This interesting old man was telling me about his past while leaning against a wall. He said:
He used to pick almonds, and each worker carried a long-handled rubber mallet and a canvas tarp with standing-up edges. They’d drag the canvas tarp along one side of the the row of trees and hit the trunks of the almond trees on the other side with the mallet.
He and his fellow field hands got so they could hear the difference between the sound of the almonds landing on the tarp and the sound of wasp mests hitting the tarp. Once he heard that more hollow sound, he had three seconds to shout, “Wasps!” to his fellow field hands while running for the nearest ditch.
The wasps took awhile to get their bearings and fly after the men, but they’d only fly straight in all directions and they wouldn’t fly into water. This was convenient anyway because they were hot days of work, anyway. He said this happened two or three times a day.
I questioned that statement that the wasps could sense humans and be able to follow them to attack. Surely, the men would be too big for the wasps to even be able to comprehend. This old man in the hallway was sure of it. To illustrate his surety, he told me another story:
He also worked as a beekeeper. He wore one of the mesh-hood-helmet/facemask things, like many beekepers, but sometimes, a bee would fly inside. She would be so preoccupied with finding a way out of the mesh, she would crawl all around the inside of the mesh instead of stinging him. When he as done with the job, he would step away from the beehive and take off his hood to let the bee out. As soon as she was out in the open, she would sting his face.
He discovered that if he went among or under trees with the bee in his hood, the bee would have less chance of stinging him. The trees confused the bee, and she couldn’t find him.
This makes sense to me because, to bees, humans are huge and so are trees. He also thought it was because trees have such different shapes and shadows than he.
We went inside the courtroom very soon after that, and most of us were dismissed. I was not chosen to be a juror, although I was quite willing to be. I certainly had the time and the supportive partner. I had the health, but I also had the outspoken opinions.
Have you ever had an experience with a tiny bug who seemed to regard you as another living being?