I’m very early. My call was at 9:30 but I wanted to find parking downtown, so I got here at a quarter of eight. Bumming around the area, I spotted a couple of patrolmen exiting a place called “The 911 Deli”. How can you pass up a place called The 911 Deli?
I have a theory: If you want to find the best eats in an area, real stick-to-your-ribs vittles at a good price… follow a cop. When these guys are on patrol, they’re out and about breakfast lunch and dinner. They eat out A LOT and don’t really get paid a whole lot considering. And that means finding the best cheap eats in the burgh. The 911 Deli is just such a place.
Oh... don't follow them too closely. They don't like that sort of thing. Just sayin'.
The sign was lit, the door was unlocked, but the lights over the tables weren’t on and the counter was empty. I looked back, confirmed that the “Open” sign was lit. Am I breaking and entering? In the local cops’ favorite watering hole… great. As I prepare to make my escape and simultaneously prepare my criminal defense (I’m telling you, this place does things to your mind) An elderly Thai lady (I know because she told me) came out to assure me that they’re open, just getting a slow start this morning.
Ah! Good. (Phew!)
I order a ham & cheese omelet and coffee. The coffee’s not ready yet and the omelet will take at least twenty minutes to get it out to me. Is that ok? Um… sure. I’ve got some time on my hands.
The family that runs the joint is very nice to me and brings my omelet out. It only took 19 minutes, but it’s freakin’ perfect. I can’t count the number of quiches, scrambles, and what-the-heck-do-you-call-that’s that I’ve been served with a side of hashbrowns over the years under the dubious moniker of ‘omelet.’ This one is perfect. Light and custardlike innards without being runny, not overly fluffy either, heated-through but not browned, not even vaguely resembling a football. It’s an Omelet.
I knew the cops wouldn’t steer me wrong. The coffee’s not bad either. Not great, but not bad. I’m tempted to come back for lunch and taste their ‘Thai Iced Tea’ whatever that is.
‘Tis an auspicious start to the day. Which comes crashing down as I sit bent over a most pernicious puzzle. That darned cat. I think it might be a piece from some other puzzle. I glare suspiciously around at the other people who have finally succumbed to Mary Englebreit’s puzzling powers. Diabolical.
The room is mostly empty, but there’s still about fifteen minutes until the official call time. My cohorts will surely be along shortly. Surely.
People are filtering in, but I think they’re being eliminated from an early-morning session of truth-telling. Where is everyone? I get that momentary panicked feeling I remember well from gradeshool. Am I late? Did I misremember my call time? Misread the clock? Did I forget my homework? Am I in the wrong class? The wrong School? Where are my pants, anyway?
Get a grip. Is there such a thing as an omelet hangover?
The jokey lady is here, I can hear her laughing in the office. She must be preparing a humdinger for this morning’s standup act. One minute to call. There’s only twenty or so people in the room. Some of them culls from other juries. What gives? Does this mean I’ll get on a jury by the universal forces of attrition?
Side note: Just once, I want to hear a defendant say: “And I’d have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!”
Time to close the laptop. It’s 9:30 and the joke lady is approaching the podium. I think I might see where that cat goes anyway. The joke lady is on my wavelength...
“A man wanted to get rid of his cat. He took the cat ten blocks from home, kicked it out of the car and took off. By the time he got home, the cat was sitting on the doorstep, waiting for him to let it in.
The next day, the man drove forty blocks, turning and backtracking several times, booted the cat out of the car and sped home. There was the cat, sitting on the stoop, waiting to be let into the house.
The third day, the man tried once more. He put the cat in the car and drove all the way across the city, backtracking, turning left, turning right, ending up MILES from his home. Hours passed and the man’s wife began to worry. She called his cell phone and he picked up on the third ring.
“Where are you?” she asked.
“A long way away, is the cat there?” the woman hesitated before telling him, yes, the cat had once again beaten him home. “Good, can you put him on the phone? I’m lost.”
9:35 am. A jury pool they called up yesterday apparently had to dismiss seven of their jurors and they need seven more. The lady calls my name.
I’m number 42.
Now I’ll never figure out where that cat goes! Well, I’m off to get hidden from the world on a case of some sort. Either I will make it through the truth-telling and be sitting on a jury for a couple of weeks or I’ll be back with my nemesis the Mary Englebreit cat on the morrow.
What this will do to my start date for classes, I have no idea. On the bright side, someone just handed me a big purple 8X10 number 42.
Methinks I hear the Vogons approaching…