Yesterday I was confused for a man named Mr. Green.
I was in jury duty. Technically, it was only the selection process, but it took nearly 10 hours so, in my little world, I’m calling it full-fledged jury duty.
Mr. Green was the man sitting to my right.
When it was my time to answer the attorney’s questions about my ability to serve on the jury, the judge referred to me as Mr. Green and seemed completely perplexed that I was not, in fact, Mr. Green.
I answered my questions, then the real Mr. Green answered his, as did the next person and so on for the bulk of our day.
Some folks got dismissed right away. Then some more folks. Then another group got dismissed. Suddenly it was passed 5:00 pm and it miraculously occurred to the attorneys that they weren’t even halfway through the room. The judge called the attorneys up. They whispered things, they shuffled papers, they laughed (odd right?), they shuffled some more papers and then they went back to their seats.
The judge dismissed everyone who had not answered individual questions yet (a little more than half the room).
Mr. Green and I, along with about 26 other people were the only ones questioned and therefore the only ones to be considered for the jury.
After a break, in which the attorneys suddenly shed their propensity to drag the entire process out, the jurors were decided. We were asked to reenter the courtroom, and the judge started calling out jurors one by one. They got through all 12, and I wasn’t picked! Now it was just a question of the alternate jurors!
“Mr. Green..”, the judge was once again looking at ME but talking about Mr. Green, “you’re alternate 2, come sit with the jury”.
The judge made a comment referencing my responses to the attorney’s questions earlier, but still referred to me as Mr. Green. I tried to ask for clarification but in his rush to get everyone up and out of there the judge moved on, and the bailiff motioned me to sit with the selected jurors to be sworn in. I looked at the real Mr. Green and we understood this to mean that we were both selected, so he joined as well.
A third alternate was selected immediately after us and she came up to join the jury but didn’t have a seat. She pulled a chair from somewhere around the corner and sat down. The judge asked us to raise our hands to be sworn in. But then…
The clerk stood up. She went to the judge. She whispered things. She pointed at papers. The judge looked in my direction – or was it Mr. Green’s direction? WHY THE HECK ARE MR. GREEN AND I ALWAYS SITTING NEXT TO EACH OTHER???
“We have one too many alternates. Whoops!” the judge laughed. “Mr. Escobar, please return to your seat.”
I wanted to make eye contact with Mr. Green, but I just kept walking. At this point, it was every man, woman, and child for themselves. I pushed through that gate that separates the souls of the selected jury and those who were dismissed by the slimmest, technical, and clerical of margins. I sat down in the seat I had occupied for the better part of 10 hours, watched the jury get sworn in, and was then dismissed along with 12 other people who didn’t have the pleasure of being confused for another human being.
When I got outside, I breathed the biggest breath of fresh air, and I said to myself,
“Poor Mr. Green.”