Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Empty Your Pockets

Considering the public nature of the echoing rotunda, I thought his bellowing was a bit too dramatic. “For GOD’S sake! You’ve GOT to be kidding me!”, he yelled to the ceiling. His eyeballs rolled. He huffed.

Given the inherent tension of the situation, I found his hollering was a bit too alarmist. “Did one of you ACTUALLY put TWO Advil…and ONLY two Advil… into this pink plastic bin, send it through THEEE x-ray machine at THISSS courthouse?” He held the pink bin up high, for all to see, and shook his head, in disgust, from side to side.

And seeing a lack of any real threat from my apparent faux pas, I felt his vocal drama was just plain gratuitous. “Is this supposed to be FUNNY? Some sort of attempt at-----humor?” He narrowed his now frowning eyes as he glared at each of us in line.

It was clear the man in the security uniform was annoyed.

I wasn’t trying to be funny, though. I was trying to get to jury duty on time.

I had rushed through the courthouse doors carrying my reusable grocery bag. It had appealing pictures of fruit on the outside and was full to the brim with my lunch, a Regis Philbin biography, some yarn and a crochet hook.

I saw the dour warning signs the minute I entered the building. “STOP! EMPTY EVERYTHING FROM YOUR POCKETS! Place items in plastic bin and proceed to x-ray machine. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING MUST BE EMPTIED FROM YOUR POCKETS!”

I fingered the two Advil in my jeans pocket. Hmmmm….it was just two Advil.

"YES! WE REALLY DO MEAN EVERYTHING!" the next sign said

The Advil quickly went into a pink plastic bin. I threw my purse into my fruit bag and waited in the slow moving security line. I had plenty of time to read the list of courthouse prohibited items. Striving to be a model juror, I had left my guns and knives at home. Also, thank goodness, I had not packed my skateboard, expandable baton, darts, syringes, corkscrew, stink bombs or fashionable metallic belt into my fruit bag. The last item on the prohibited list, however, caught my eye.

Knitting needles. They were not allowed.

I thought of my crochet hook hidden in the bottom of my fruit bag. I thought of all the trouble I could cause with my crochet hook that would most definitely be frowned upon.

I approached the x-ray machine and mindlessly sent my pink bin and two Advil through the x-ray machine. I anxiously put my fruit bag on the conveyor belt. I turned to the lady watching the camera and immediately confessed my guilt. “I’ve got a crochet hook in there.”

I waited to be apprehended.

She smiled at me. “That’s ok, honey. As long as you don’t have knitting needles you’re good to go.” Shocked, I shouted “REALLY??” inside my own head. I proceeded through the metal detector, a bit disturbed how easily I had conjured up crochet hook mayhem and a bit disturbed that they would have let me have a go at it.

I passed through security with a sense of relief and freedom, grabbing my cleared fruit bag. My bubble of relief was quickly burst by his bellowing. My stomach turned when I realized my security battle was not over. The crowd watched as I began negotiations to free my Advil hostages.

“Well, I’ll be! 23 years on this job and I thought I’d seen it all. Lady! What were you thinking?”

“But…well….the sign…it said EVERYTHING. So I emptied everything…”

“Lady! Do you have any idea the stuff that gets put in these bins every day? You’d better wash those off before you take them.”

I nervously chuckled and promised I would wash my Advil, which I was now in great need of. I walked away, toward the stairs, as quickly as would still seem normal. Unfortunately, he was not done.

“Hey, Advil lady!” he called out. “On second thought, I wouldn’t take those Advil at all. You really wouldn’t believe the kind of stuff I see come through in those bins. Bad stuff…..very bad stuff.” he said sternly. “We’ve got some really crazy people coming through this courthouse every day…..I’m just sayin’.”

And then he turned toward his security partner and said louder than I hope he had intended, “How nuts was that? I’ve seen some crazy stuff, but I never thought I’d see someone do that…….”

Check This Out!

 I recently read the thought provoking book, The Submission: A Novel, by Amy Waldman. A work of fiction, The Submission deals with a contest to design the 9/11 memorial in New York City. A jury judges the entries that were submitted, blindly, without knowing the architects’ identities. The winning design is ultimately revealed to have been created by a Muslim. While I did find the book slow in a few places and I wasn’t sure I liked the ending, I did find it incredibly interesting and timely. It tackled what is a very complicated topic quite well. Where would you stand? Are you sure?


calimom said...

You have got to stop taking breaks with your writing. This was funny. You're a good writer. Keep it up. You were missed!

Anonymous said...

I hate the courthouse security. last time I had jury duty they thought my phone had been "altered". Big pain.

josef said...

Hey, u followed their signs. Crazy security guy if you ask me. Powere trip or sumthin.