jury duty / by mrm

At first, she felt prepared. Even sophisticated. Ah yes, I am someone who reports for jury duty with my coffee in a thermos. No need to try to dash across the street, in the spittle-like rain, to wait in line for a cup of too-hot brown water, then scramble to arrive on time. 

She opened the thermos and coffee splashed everywhere, on the table, on her skirt. Undeterred, she took out some tissues and began sopping it up from the tabletop. She got a stain-remover pen out of her purse and applied it to her skirt. I am prepared for this contingency, she thought, I am someone who is ready, I am someone who has a plan, even when the coffee thermos has a leak.  

After all, she thought, it's not as thought I knew it had a leak. I borrowed it this morning. I do not own a coffee thermos. I'm someone who has a borrowed coffee thermos. I'm someone who has borrowed a leaky coffee thermos. I'm someone who knows the kind of people who own leaky coffee thermoses and lend them out willy-nilly. I'm someone who is already so used to the possibility of spilling and making a mess – did this stain my skirt? no way!! – that I'm already prepared to clean up the mess I know I'll eventually make. And yes it's true I forgot to clean out my purse before I came and I had to go outside in the rain and hide my Swiss Army knife under a bush and I just have to hope it'll still be there later because I'm not, of course I'm not allowed to bring it in the building and yes it said that in the jury summons but I forgot, I simply forgot until I was standing in line for the metal detector and by then it was too late, although it's true that even when I realized it was too late, I refused to accept it, and when my bag had gone through the scanner and set off all the alarms and they asked me nicely was there a knife or anything in my bag I tried to bluff, I tried suggesting it might have been my key chain, my wine bottle opener which I'd also forgotten to take out of my bag, my bike multi-tool, and, no? Well, oh, dear, how embarrassing, I forgot about my pocket knife, I'm so sorry and now it's under a bush, if it's even still there, if someone hasn't found it already, it's probably rusting, it's probably gone.

I am someone who is accustomed to dealing with my own incompetence.