GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (VI)

Jury Duty

Getting ready for a day at work is a valuable ritual. One prepares psychologically for the rigours of the day and runs through the events which are likely to unfold. It’s also important to make an impression and do things properly. I always shine my shoes before dressing, buffing them to a beautiful deep sheen, and match tie, shirt, and cuffs. I may only put in an appearance at an office on a couple of days a week, but I like to think my appearance would convey enough impressions of maverick businessman, independent thinker, and cheeky professional to last an entire career.

After a shower, and dressing in the dressing room, I share a coffee with wifey on the patio outside our kitchen. We sip a mostly Kenyan blend made for us by Abraham, the Ugandan man who works at the boutique, and glance at the morning papers as the birds call to each other and ferries deliver their passengers at the wharf nearby. I’m usually gone by 10 am.

And these routines serve me well. People in my world know they can trust me and they have some idea what to expect when they ask my views. But other worlds are different, as I recently learned. You see over the last year I have been called for jury duty twice, and did my civic bit on both occasions, showing up, and on both occasions I was selected and then challenged by the defence. It’s a damn nuisance this jury duty, and a barrister mate told me I kept being rejected because of the Financial Review under one arm and English-made brogues you can see your reflection in and the suit made by tailors in Hong Kong I now know by name. He told me that if you get onto a jury they can’t call you up again for years. So that was that: I decided I would go in disguise if they ever called me up again, get on a jury, enjoy the courtroom show, and then be left alone to pursue business interests – as retiring politicians sometimes say after they have just said they want to spend time with their family.

Well, the plan worked admirably when I got another call up for this week. I appeared in jeans with a well-thumbed Matthew Reilly novel in one hand – it is advisable to bring something to read for the selection and impanelling process – and I became a juror. I can’t tell you about most of it in fact – it isn’t allowed – but suffice it to say there is now one less handbag snatcher roaming the streets of Ashfield contemplating no good.

It was stimulating getting to know my new colleagues for a week. Wayne the foreman, who just assumed he was the foreman, so we let him do it, and Wendy the kindergarten teacher, and Paul, who claimed to be a student but he never seemed to know any of the answers to the quiz questions in the paper we had a go at every morning in the jury room. In fact no-one knew any of the answers. Except me, and when they accused me of cheating after I correctly answered one about the name of the Governor General’s official residence, and Wayne, whose plumbing business was, he said, going down the toilet in his absence, locked inside this little room, growled at me, I pretended to know about sport and we spoke about that for the rest of the week.

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Published in: on March 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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