I’ve never really understood the concept of purgatory. As a Baptist, we routinely got a good helping of heaven talk and a big heaping portion of hellfire and damnation. But purgatory was a foreign concept. But now, I’m here to tell you it’s real. I just spent three days in purgatory and am completely reformed, albeit my back now aches to high heavens.
Basically, the deputy stuffed a bunch of us poor souls into a small courtroom where we all waited on hard pew-like benches for what seemed like eternity. Eventually, the deputy divided us into two groups. I happened to be in the second group, which didn’t even get to experience the excitement of being questioned by the judge. We just had to wait in limbo for three days in case another trial happened to get started, in which case our presence might be needed to determine guilt or innocence. But it didn’t get started, so I just sat for three days.
Besides the hard benches, I’m not complaining. I spent most of my three days of sitting doing two of my favorite activities: reading and people watching. I read more in those three days than I had in the three previous months. As far as people watching goes, I’m here to report that the three most popular activities for people stuck in limbo are 1) endless cell-phone scrolling 2) stuporous staring at the floor and 3) well, to be honest, there really wasn’t a close third. There were a few other people who brought books and few people who slept, but most everyone else just scrolled and stared, scrolled and stared, scrolled and stared.
Another thing I noticed was how bureaucracy manifests itself in courtroom attire. The judges wore robes and the inmates wore jumpsuits and the deputies wore uniforms and the attorneys wore suits and the jurors wore orange stickers that said “JURY.” As a career government employee, I’ve seen my fair share of bureaucratic nonsense, but I guess I’m kinda lucky that we can still wear comfortable casual clothes at the agriculture office.
So, I have mixed feelings about jury duty. In some ways, it was a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of everyday life–plus I got paid 12 dollars per day to just sit and read. But it was also a sad and depressing place. Someone who is Catholic (looking at you, Steven) will have to explain to me how exactly purgatory is supposed to work in the afterlife and whether or not jury duty is a fitting resemblance on this mortal coil. All I know is I did my civic duty.