In this series of 5 crazy courthouse stories, I have recounted 1 funny story, 1 story that led to a great idea, and 2 scary stories, with the worst, of course, being the events of September 11, 2001. In this final post on crazy courthouse stories, I will write about another funny experience. As almost everyone who ventures out of their house and into the world surely knows, the terrorist attacks on 911 changed our ways of life. For example, I used to show up at the airport at the last minute, always with my tiny pocket knife in my purse, to board a flight. Not any more. I used to walk breezily through the front door of courthouses, stopping to ask the friendly bailiffs the location of the courtroom where I was supposed to select a jury. Not any more. These days, in the two places where I spend a considerable portion of my work days, I am subjected to all sorts of inconveniences, not to mention humiliations (such as “I’m going to touch you, there, with the back of my hand”). Most of the time, the courthouse bailiffs are nice, friendly, and professional, but sometimes, they are just the opposite. On this day, I was, once again, selecting a jury in the Lee County Courthouse in Fort Myers, Florida. It was a warm day, and like many women I know, I was wearing a suit that was comprised of a skirt and a jacket. It was meant to be worn that way, that is, without a blouse underneath. The mean and nasty bailiff shouted at me, “Remove your jacket.” I attempted to explain that my suit was designed to be worn without a blouse, but Mr. Surly Meanie repeatedly yelled at me not to hold up the line and to “REMOVE YOUR JACKET. NOW.” I decided that speaking in my usual tone of voice, at my usual volume, was never going to catch his attention, so I yelled back, “Sir, I will gladly remove my jacket if you and all of the other officers promise not to arrest me for indecent exposure. There is nothing underneath except my BRA!” At the same time I was yelling, I was unbuttoning my jacket and swaying in a striptease fashion, while loudly humming a catchy striptease song. By then, all of the other bailiffs were laughing uncontrollably, as was everyone else behind me in the line that was growing longer and longer. Mr. Surly Meanie finally looked up, saw that I was not kidding around, and yelled at me one more time, “Lady, button up your jacket and move forward.” This is one of my all time favorite courthouse stories! Va-va-voom!
This one would have been fun to observe! I guess we’ve all encountered people going about their jobs in a mindless fashion. Clerks who don’t look up from their desks when approached, cashiers who don’t make eye contact and my (least) favorite, security personnel who are clueless automatons. I encounter the latter frequently when entering concert venues. I know the house rules better than they do – thanks to the internet. But, the most special sticklers for routine are probably airport security guards. That is certainly a thankless job but, perhaps, it is because it is so often performed in such a negative way. And, forcing everyone to go through rote steps that often provide little more than a false sense of security makes little sense. Not opening one’s eyes to what is in front of them is a poor way to go through work, and life. Bringing your eyes and brain to work is what we should all be able to expect from those who are there to help or protect us. A little kindness along the way doesn’t hurt either.