Sunday, September 12, 2010

Off Topic - That Was the Week It Was - September 12, 2010

Another Sunday, another off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. If you're looking for Big Brother live feeds news, there isn't much and I'll be posting on that later today. I'm also planning a post about Survivor as that one's sneaking up on us way too quickly.

Before I get into anything, I'd like to mention that today is Vincent's "faux-birthday." It was a year ago today that he decided I would be taking him home from New York City Animal Care and Control. He's still a nut! That, of course, is a good thing.

This week was a least a bit out of the norm for me. With BB12 going on, it seems like I've just been working, blogging, eating and sleeping way too little. While this past week's holiday didn't mean all that much in my eyes as I was working a full week anyway, this was the week of my jury duty.

I kept my ongoing record of never being selected to sit on a trial. I actually (for the first time) made a panel for a case and got to watch other people go through the voir dire. But, although they did excuse some of the jurors, my number wasn't called. It was for a civil case, a slip and fall personal injury one. I would have preferred a criminal case just because I find that more interesting ... but I wasn't chosen at all.

As a person who enjoys both writing and television, I've decided they should do a show called 'Jury Duty.' It would have to be scripted due to all the secrecy issues, but it's the reality which got me thinking. More so than when I last served in another quieter more suburban county, this jury duty stint was truly an adventure in people-watching. It was like the parade that used to go through the old Barney Miller police station gone modern day.

Just a few of the characters I observed:
  • Beloved NJ Transit Bus Driver - I took a very early bus over there as I had to report at 8 AM and wasn't sure where I was going. I didn't know the bus driver. But apparently everyone else did. No fewer than six women got aboard and kissed him on the cheek while as many men enthusiastically shook his hand. I guess he was a regular driver coming back to the route or something. He's a good example of some of the folks who work for NJ Transit. He made a point of not only telling me where I wanted to get off, but gave me exact directions to the county courthouse. He was a good character ... most of the ones coming up are just strange characters.
  • Ripped Pants Touchy Feely Girl - When you wear six-inch stilettos and super-tight pants to a jury room, you're sure to split out the whole rear seam. Using the pay phone near where I was sitting, "Mommy, mommy, [Spanish] pantalones ..." Later in the day, when I went to use the restroom, she decided to caress my hair. Who does that to a stranger? I don't even like people that much in my own personal bubble or close talkers, say nothing about a stranger mauling my back and hair!
  • Praying Singing Tapping Slapping Man - He started out quietly, a fairly distinguished-looking middle-aged black man dressed in a business suit. Then I saw him gesturing. I thought he had an iPod or something. As the day went on in the jury waiting room, he got more antic in his gestures, tapping loudly on chairs and slapping his hands on his legs as he sat. Then he burst into LOUD song -- "Lots of joy came into my life ... the lord ..." -- THUMP, SLAP, THUMP. While he had a rich baritone voice, everyone jumped and stared. Can you see him sitting on a jury? "The defendant is charged with murder." "Lots of joy ... oh, Lord..." Maybe it's a unique ploy to get out of serving?
  • Woohoo Cell Phone Ticket Jersey Girl - This loud, yet physically attractive white girl, tried to live up to the Jersey Shore stereotype. Overly dramatic with a loud laugh, she got a cell phone ticket during our lunchtime and came back to the jury room swearing loudly and yelling that the cop was out of line. Since it's a construction area (they have all of the area around the courthouse all askew), it's a double fine. She went up to the one panel with me and was called when they dismissed a potential juror. You're supposed to say "Here" for the voice recognition equipment. Instead, she yelled "Woohoo!" She ended up being dismissed as she knows the doctor involved in the case.
  • Bag Lady Crazy Woman Juror - Dragging a backpack on wheels and four other bags, I only noticed her after we returned from lunch. As she was totally unkempt, greasy hair, made manic furtive looks around like so many drug addicts and street people exhibit, and she was talking to herself, I thought she sneaked into the courthouse somehow. She plopped herself down on a chair next to Praying Singing Tapping Slapping Man and started going through her bags. Pulling out a canister of something, she pulled her shirt open and started shaking it on her chest. Talcum powder maybe? I don't know. It was enough for even PSTS Man to be taken aback. She also went to the panel on the 14th floor with me. Without saying anything, she bolted from the courtroom with the bailiff on her heels. He came back rolling his eyes. We didn't see her until we were excused to go back to the jury waiting room. She was getting off the elevator ... soaking wet and dripping. I think she washed her hair in a restroom sink.
  • Judge With No Socks - While finishing my lunchtime freedom (I had wandered taking photos and eating at Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits), I sat for a while reading on a bench outside the courthouse. It was about 90 degrees with a breeze. The man sitting next to me wore a dress shirt and tie, khaki slacks, loafers, no socks and real tanned ankles. A county sheriff deputy (they're the ones in charge of the courthouse) sat next to him and they talked like old friends. The GLBT Woman (next) sat next to him and commented on the no socks. He said that whenever it's over 85 degrees, it's a no socks day. He turned out to be the judge hearing the case in the panel I went to. I just kept thinking of his tanned ankles whenever I looked at him.
  • GLBT Woman - She was a normal looking and acting white woman, perhaps a bit butch but that's nothing really. But wearing a neon t-shirt emblazoned with GLBT causes in bold lettering might not be the best decision for courtroom attire. When called for the panel, she put a sweatshirt over it. She actually ended up on the jury. Mind you, I followed the attire rules and wore business casual kind of clothing, no logos, no t-shirts, no shorts ... and I didn't even wear jeans which many people did. A man wearing forbidden shorts also got on the jury.
  • Gruff "I'm the Authority" Entrance Deputy - I told him before I went through the metal detector that my knee replacement would set it off. He insisted both knees had metal in them. They don't. Unless someone sneaked metal into my right knee since this spring when I was last metal-detected, it ain't happening. He finally shrugged and acted like he didn't know why I was lying to him after wanding my knees. By the way, the right one didn't set off the wand. Later, during lunch, I asked him if I could take a photo of the rotunda and the huge circular staircase. "No cameras allowed in the courthouse!" Of course everyone has cell phone cameras and laptops with cameras with them, plus he let my purse through not once, but twice, with my camera in it. It's a shame -- that courthouse is stunning and historical.
  • Wipeout Man - In the voir dire, they ask each juror about their jobs, their families, and even what television shows they watch. When one man mentioned watching CSI, the judge scoffed and said it wasn't a criminal case, there would be no forensic evidence. One man, who came across as such a serious guy, had a serious job, dressed well for court, is a grandfather replied when asked about television ... Wipeout! Spontaneous laughter all about. "I mean it. I like that show! Have you ever watched it?"
  • Talking Man Who Understands Nothing - While in the waiting room I noticed this man had cornered and was practically sitting atop of a young man who looked very uneasy about it all. He talked quite animatedly for more than two hours, close talking and I haven't a clue what was being said. I wondered if the younger man knew him. At the voir dire, I decided he didn't. "What do you do for a living?" "Thirty-five years!" "Okay, but what do you do?" "Retire!" "Okay, you're retired, but what did you do when you worked?" "Thirty-five years!" Dismissed.
  • Really Late Man - Remember, we were supposed to be there at 8 AM. This dude strolls in at 3:40 PM and shows his jury summons to Walter, the jury manager. "I need to get excused." Walter looked at his watch and asked, "What do you do for a living?" "I'm unemployed," the scruffy late man replied. "Go to the office and you'll be rescheduled for next week. Be on time next week."
Enough ... onto my photos for the week. Clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window.

Plainfield Police Memorial Unveiled

The unveiling and ceremony went down while I was at work yesterday. I took this shot after dark from across the street when I got back to town. I'll get a better shot in the daylight. It's a tribute to four fallen officers on the force killed in the line of duty -- one killed in race riots in the 60s, two in the early 70s and the sole woman officer murdered in the 80s right up the street from me. If I'm not mistaken, I believe the rehab of the main train station is also dedicated to her. Plainfield Police, Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street.

Sunrise, Sunset

... swiftly fly the years. (From Fiddler on the Roof) This is last night's sunset as I saw it in Bridgewater, NJ.

After Work Zombie on NJT Train

After working all day, he was oblivious to my camera on the train.

Plainfield Police Gang Unit

I guess he has job security these days, although it's a shame it's even needed. The gang-related shootings continue in town but they're not accurate shots. The murder rate itself remains fairly low. No, the woman talking to him is probably not a gang member, more likely a friend or acquaintance. Watchung Avenue, Plainfield.

Late summer bloom

One flower is in full bloom while its neighbor's time is gone. East Second Street, Plainfield.

Another East Second Street Flower

Sunrise through the trees

As I waited for the NJ Transit bus for my jury duty, I was treated to this view. Berckman and East Second Street, Plainfield.

Historic Art Deco Hersh Tower in Elizabeth, NJ

Built during the depression, this is one nifty-cool building.

Hersh Tower detail

Union County (NJ) Courthouse

Built in 1903, I can't fit the whole thing in my photo. There's also a round rotunda section and a fourteen-story tower full of courtrooms. It's supposedly haunted by the ghost of Hannah Caldwell.

A Republican Party?

Again, I was too close to get the whole building in my shot -- I was actually more interested in the weathered boards over the windows. The faded sign painted on the building read "Union County - A Republican Party." But I loved those boards. That's what this is all about! Elizabeth, NJ.

Oh my

These guys guard a rooftop in Elizabeth. They're not gargoyles, they're not quite griffins. Maybe they're grifgoyles.

St. John's on Broad Street

Originally founded in 1703, this church is amazingly tall. This photo doesn't do it justice. Elizabeth, NJ.

Separation of Church and State ...

... by a flag. The church steeple is yet another historic church on Broad Street and the tower is the Union County Courthouse tower. Elizabeth, NJ. Also note the historic bank building, now a Wachovia.

Street Cleaning in Elizabeth

Since I got to town early, it was only about 7:15 AM. Nonetheless, there were plenty of pedestrians and folks heading off to work. What surprised me, the Hello How Are You Person of Plainfield, is that other people greeted ME first! During my early morning exploration, five different people gave a friendly hello without me making the first greet. Wow. Elizabeth and Plainfield both have reputations for being on the rough side. Elizabeth is the fourth largest city in NJ more than double the population of Plainfield. You don't expect friendly greetings on the street from strangers. But I got them. Only in the morning, not in the afternoon when the sidewalks were full and it was jostle time.

They must have blown the trash to Broad Street

My gosh, I thought the litter problem in Plainfield was bad. This is horrible! Elizabeth, NJ.

If you're blue and you don't know
where to go to why don't you go
where fashion sits
Puttin' on the Ritz
Different types who wear a day
coat pants with stripes and cutaway
coat perfect fits
Puttin' on the Ritz

(As sung and danced to by Fred Astaire and a host of others ...) I love this art deco marquee at the Ritz Theater! Another historical treasure in Elizabeth, it still hosts shows and is way cool.

Stepping back a bit

The ticket booth at The Ritz

250 Years Old in 1914, eh?

If my math skillz are still any good, we're talking the town was settled in 1664? For the United States, that's ancient. In Europe, it wouldn't be much ... but here, we're talking OLD.

Dedicated to the volunteers

This statue stands to the side of the courthouse entrance. Union County Courthouse, Elizabeth, NJ.


These children were in the window. Luckily the boy decided to sit down or he would have had to get the blur treatment. Parents? Where? Broad Street, Elizabeth.

During lunch

The tranquil early morning streets gave way to loads of pedestrians and extreme traffic jams all afternoon. It doesn't help that two blocks of sidewalks around the courthouse are torn up and closed. Broad Street, Elizabeth, NJ.

Fall Sale

Broad Street, NJ. Edited for color/black & white.

Hall of Fame?

Looks more like a Hall of Shame. But decrepit tends to attract me for photo fodder. I believe this was also on Broad Street.

"Are you lookin' at me?
Are YOU lookin' at ME?"

Okay, Vincent. Don't go all Taxi Driver on me. I'll let you drape yourself over my shoulder in a minute. Happy faux-birthday! You're a great cat!


RJM in SC said...

What a hoot Jackie, Only you could make jury duty so interesting. Loved all the descrpotions on the people you met there. Too bad you weren't selected and we could have your take on that.

RJM said...

I seriously need spell check--descriptions

Anonymous said...

you out did yourself with the pics this week and the entertainment was hilarious! thanks jackie!!
debi in HOT calif!

RyzandShyn said...

Good Morning!
You certainly "met" an interesting mix of people last week. There are so many people out and about who seem to have emotional and behavioral problems preventing them from living well. I wish there was an answer to it.
I've experienced the touchy feely to my caucasian red hair from those who are unfamiliar with it. My freckles cause problems too.
What beautiful historical buildings you've shared with us. I'd love to be able to look back and observe the first people to use them.
Happy Anniversary to you and Vincent, glad you found each other.

Anonymous said...

THOROUGHLY entertaining & interesting! Thanks so much, Jackie! And to RyzandShyn - - I have red hair as well. People do always want to touch it. Go figure! Thanks so much, Jackie, for all your pics and all you do!

Jackie said...

My hair is naturally red as well. Maybe I need a force field.

ML said...

Absolutely love all the pictures, especially the blue/pink sunrise through the trees and Vincent, of course! Happy birthday to him; that is his real birthday you know, because his life really just began when he joined you.

Bernice said...

Great people-watching! No doubt observing our local cast of characters has honed your skills!

Becky said...

Happy Gotcha Day, Vincent! Loved the pictures and the write up of your jury duty.

lynn1 said...

Jackie, your photos were outstanding this week. I love all the architectural shots you took, epscially the picture of St. Johns. What a fantastic building it is.
The only time I sat on a jury was for a civil case. It had to do with a real estate deal/ home builder. I enjoyed it and learned so much about building of houses.
I don't think I would like to sit on a criminal jury. I am sure I would be messed up by hearing a murder case or child abuse case.
Although I have been called to jury duty several times, once I passed 50 I have never been chosen to sit on a jury.
I have found even when not chosen there is enough going on in any court house to keep me "entertained."
Talking to other potential jurors, seeing the different and sometimes interesting people passing by is an experience in and of itself.
Thanks for sharing your photos and experiences of people watching.
Happy Faux Birthday to Vincent. I am sure he is basking in your love and attention.

caroline said...

Your descriptions were so vivid of a cast of characters that would be worthy of a tv show about jurors.

My heart ached for that homeless woman but then my heart always breaks for the homeless. That is where my heart is at, helping the homeless. That is where my passion lies particularly because larger numbers of homeless are veterans who served our country. And sadly the newest bunch of homeless increasing in numbers are Vets of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
My heart breaks for all of them.

Justene said...

We learned at the Museum of Television and Radio that the new show, The Defenders, was shot as a documentary or a reality show. There were so many attorney-client conversations that it couldn't "clear legal." So it became a scripted show.

Sydney said...

Aww, Vincent, the purr-diest guy around. I can't believe it was only one year ago Jackie! Wow, seems like much longer than that!

I tell you, you didn't even need to post pictures this week after the vivid descriptions of your jury adventure and those people. I loved each one, but especially the woo hoo, bag lady and the GLBTQ-er... I wonder if everyone was doing those things to NOT be chosen (well, the bag lady sounds legit). Where you find time to write it all out I don't know, but I'm glad you did.

Thanks for a great read!

SueGee said...

Thanks for your usual great Sunday morning essay! I always look forward to the pictures and you out did yourself today. And as a rescue Cat "Mom" myself, I know Vincent really appreciates his new home! My Lucy reminds me every single morning when she wakes me up at the same time to get her breakfast. Holiday? Weekend? She doesn't care - its 5:30 and you need to get UP!!

Here in Northern CA we go on one day phone standby for jury duty and you either get called in or you are done for the year. I get my notice every year and have not had to show up for a long, long time. I was once on a criminal jury (double murder/cocaine) and we would get these long 2+ hour lunch breaks and we explored all over in search of great lunches. I also found a really neat bookstore too! Wish I had the camera knack tho!!

Sue on the left coast

Lars said...

My family and I were discussing topic last night.

Jackie last year during this timeframe, while in various outlets, people not only touched my hair, they'd literally tugged/pulled at my hair.
I too don't like people in my own personal bubble space or close talkers.

Thanks for being you.
Love your photo's.

Sally said...

What a wonderful photo of Vincent! You could actually count the whiskers on that handsome feline face.

Your descriptions of those other potential jurors were terrific. Makes me wonder how large the juror pool was, to have that many colorful characters!

Some of that older architecture is really impressive, even those grifgoyles. And the sunrise and sunset photos were beautiful, with their vivid but very different colors.

JOEY said...

Once again you never fail to amaze me and I alway look forward to sunday just because of you, Thank you. I love the photos and your unique eye for photos. I enjoy your insight of jury duty and the people as well. I use to work for a Judge and the people in the jury make me think or say to my self" what were you thinking??
It is a known fact that alot of people here in florida actually do act or dress or do things like that just to get out of the jury duty. some of them scare even the most bravest of deputys here. They are all are nuts.Thank god I am retired now
I also had a person who touch me as well but it was my beard, as I had really nice (and am told), beautiful Auburn/light brown hair and beard and not thick like a biker but full and this young girl run up to me and grab it and start stroking it and running her hands through it and said, she never felt a beard like my befor. boy, it really threw me too, as I just stood there in stun shock and then she try to pull it, then that was too much and I just had to finally say enough. then she grab me and kiss me full on the lip and then said, she had to, just to see what it was like and then call me snuggle bear and giggle and walk off, she was in mid 20's I was in my late 30's. my friend that was with me just laugh at the look on my face. since then I shave and never let anyone get that near me again. never know.
Thank for photos love sunset. and happy birthday vincent

Delee said...

I can not believe that Vincent has been with you for a year. What is the old saying? Time flies!!! HAPPY MEOWDAY VINCENT!!! I expected to see a pic with a party hat! HAHA

So true about cameras not allowed, but then people have other means. Amanda and I were going to a Cirque de Soleil show at Penn State and she had a camera in her purse. The guy made her take it back to the car, yet she took pictures with her cell phone! DUH!

What a great week for photos, esp the sunsets!

Off to Canada, Monday. Niagara Falls Ontario-Toronto and Montreal and who knows where else. I take pics but have a hard time putting them in my blog. Always something else to do.

Anonymous said...

That's funny. I never get selected for jury duty. They always end up cancelling it. What always gets me is when they send the letter, in bold letters say:

Appropriate juror clothing does NOT include tank tops and sandles.


I love your posts and pictures.

Jackie said...

Sally - It was supposed to be jurors numbers 01 through 275, but I'd guess there were only about maybe 150 if that many.

RBennie said...

Most importantly, happy birthday Vincent! I can't believe it's been a year already. Your pictures were great as usual Jackie, but your commentary on jury duty had me practically rolling on the floor laughing. I think I have met all of those people at one time or another, LOL. I call myself the "perfect juror" because every time I've ever been to jury duty (and I've stopped counting because it's so many) I have been picked for a case. I don't know what it is about me, but it's happened every time.

Watch 4Kids Entertainment said...

Hey Jackie thanks for sharing the pics i really liked the historical buildings you have shared.