On Coca-Cola and Jury Duty

I got called for jury duty when I was nineteen years old.  I was terrified.  All I knew about jury duty was what I had learned from watching “Twelve Angry Men” a few years earlier, so I drove downtown on my first morning all ready to play Henry Fonda’s character in real life and save some poor unfortunate soul from a wrongful conviction.




Jury duty is, of course, much less glamorous than that.  And, far more intimidating when you’re nineteen and, (amazingly), end up actually sitting on a jury on a real court case.

After my first two days listening to the trial I was pretty tired, and afraid that I would fall asleep and do something horribly embarrassing like snore while a witness was testifying.  So the next day I brought a bottle of Coke with me for the caffeine (I don’t drink coffee), which at the time seemed like a great plan.

It was, however, the opposite of a great plan.  It was a terrible plan.  It was a terribly, horribly, awful plan, because Coke possesses the ability to do something that coffee cannot do.  Coke  can store up anger and hostility and release it without warning at the most inopportune moments.

I had been in the courthouse for about ten minutes when it exploded on me.  And by “exploded” I mean there was Coke everywhere, all over me, all over my chair, my khakhi pants, everything.  And, may I remind you, Coke is brown and sticky.  And it smells funny when it’s covering your clothes, and basically becoming your new identity.

It took me a few seconds to comprehend what had happened, and in that time an official government person stopped in to the deliberation room to let the jury know that we needed to be in the courtroom in ten minutes.

Ten minutes is not enough time to clean Coke off of one’s entire body, nor is it enough time for Coke to dry into one’s clothes.

To their credit, the real adults on the jury did their best to hide their smiles and be sympathetic, but there was nothing to be done.  I was going to have to go into the trial looking like I’d just peed myself.  And I did.  I sat there, immersed in Coke, and took notes and listened to evidence, and did my juror thing.  No one said a word about it the rest of the day, including me.  I was too sticky to be able to form coherent sentences.

My fellow jurors spent the rest of the week making jokes about carbonation, and cautioning everyone who opened a beverage to do so over the sink.  And though the trial was certainly exciting, I’d be wiling to bet that the verdict isn’t what anybody remembers about that week.

Needless to say, if I ever have jury duty again, I’ll be bringing a change of clothes.


I Have Bunk Beds

My family has a tradition that we practice on every family vacation.  We always go to the same vacation site (a cabin near a beach in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and we always take a few hours during the week to visit the local thrift store.  It’s run by volunteers, and full of interesting castoffs – everyone always finds something fun or odd or downright perplexing to take home with them.  Over the years our visit has transformed into a sort of contest to see who can find the most outrageous item.  As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

It’s actually a matter of pride for me that I bought one of my favorite black dresses at that shop,  People say “wow, cute dress!” and I say “thanks, it cost me a quarter at a thrift store”.  Then I smile sort of smugly, reveling in my ability to save money.  But that’s neither here nor there, nor is my purchase (though a riveting story) the point of this entry.

That same trip to the thrift store, my father found a t-shirt that is arguably the best thrift store find any of us have ever made.  It was an ordinary, solid red t-shirt.  But stuck haphazardly across the front of it was the phrase “I HAVE BUNK BEDS”.

And that was all.

No indication of why this person had bunk beds, what they were for, or why the world needed to know about it.  The shirt was clearly homemade, the letters had been ironed on, and a few were beginning to peel.  The words slanted downward, spaced unevenly.  I suppose they were as confused about their purpose as we were.  The shirt was like a pointless social media update that had happened way ahead of its time.  Like someone in the 1980’s had decided that he needed a way to tell the world inane things about his life.  Maybe this same person also had shirts that said “I LIKE TOAST” and “ON MY WAY TO WORK”.  We’ll never know.

My dad bought the shirt, of course.  He wears it, every now and again, just for fun.  We came up with a few theories about why it had been made and who may have owned it, but none of them really made sense, because the shirt doesn’t really make sense.

But that’s the charm of the shirt, really.  It doesn’t make sense, but it makes us smile.


So I named my blog after my dad’s shirt.  Because I’m not entirely sure that this blog will make sense.  I don’t really know what I’m going to write about.  And I don’t really know why. I just want to write.  There is no clear goal in mind, no social platform to push, no personal advancement to be gained.

I do hope that I will make you think, though. I hope to invite you to wonder, and question.  I hope, at least, that you will come with me to see what happens on this journey that I’ve started on a whim.

And I hope that, like a old, red t-shirt, what I write will make you smile – and that, maybe, you’ll find a few treasures to take home with you.