Creative ways to kill time during jury duty – with poll

About once every two years or so, the mail contains something more horrifying than a Tucson summer electric bill.

Line of potential jurors/Ryn Gargulinski

Line of potential jurors/Ryn Gargulinski

It’s the jury duty summons.

After checking the date to find it inevitably coincides with a vacation we’ve been planning for months, we send in, and are granted, a request for postponement.

But the date arrives once again. Mine is this morning.

Since my past jury duty experience has consisted of being held prisoner in a large room with a bunch of strangers that look as unhappy as I am to be there, it can get pretty boring.

Thus I have devised a number of ways to kill time while I am forced to sit there. And sit there. And sit there.

Creative ways to kill time during jury duty:

Write, draw, fantasize about being on a deserted island with more clothes than Ginger had.

Play the “make more words” game. Pick a word, any word, and use the letters within the word to make more words. A good jury duty example would be the word “boring.” We can make the following: bin, rob, gin, bring, ring, gob, nib, big, rig and bon (since French words are allowed).

These shoes would get a 10 for style, a ZERO for comfort/Ryn Gargulinski

These shoes would get a 10 for style, a ZERO for comfort/Ryn Gargulinski

Rate shoes. I picked up this trick during countless New York City subway rides, where you get a fine array of footwear at which to stare. Check out everyone’s shoes and rate them on the following criteria: comfort, usefulness, looks and the biggie: would you be caught dead in them?

Count traits. This game was invented in church, where you can count how many people are wearing hats without even turning around in your pew. It works in any situation, where you can count how many of any trait are in the room. These include, but are not limited to: glasses, false teeth, male/female ratio, toupees and wigs, bad makeup and ugly shirts.

Knit. Folks who knit have it made during a number of mind-numbing activities. While others sit and stew, the crafty creators happily knit one, pearl two for hours on end. I’ve watched a woman complete an entire scarf once during a long subway ride. Of course, it may be kind of tough to bring knitting needles into a court house lest the knitter go berserk and stab a bailiff in the neck.

Advanced time killers:

This cute old man is an ideal "create a life" candidate/Ryn Gargulinski

This cute old man is an ideal "create a life" candidate/Ryn Gargulinski

Create lives. Pick a random individual – man, woman, old, young, whatever – and construct his or her life. Decide where the person works; if he is single, married, divorced, murderer of his spouse; number of pets and kids; and what he ate for breakfast. Continue creating his life, giving him a number of obstacles that he can overcome with aplomb or at which he can fail miserably. Don’t forget to name him.

Play with math. This is a very advanced time killer that involves calculating the daily wages of each person in the room and then compiling an overall tally of the wages being lost while everyone just sits there.

There are also several things you should not do in a jury duty waiting room, no matter how enticing they may seem.

Paint your toenails. That’s just gross. Besides, the smell will make people complain.

Tweeze nose hairs. Again, disgusting. Don’t pick your nose, either.

Talk to strangers. Even starting a little small talk can be dangerous, as you’ll be stuck in the room with these folks for several hours. You will both become uncomfortable after the small talk ends, wondering if you should say more and if it would be rude to go take a seat 100 miles away from the person.

Sleep. As dreamy as this option sounds – especially since a jury duty day kind of destroys any chance of the usual afternoon nap – you will most likely miss being called to the front. You will then be marked absent and a summons will be issued for your arrest. These time killers don’t work as well in jail.

Please note: if you do, in fact, get called to sit on a jury, these tactics are not recommended during an actual trial.



What has your jury duty experience been like?

How do you kill time during the waiting?

Have you ever been put on an exciting trial – or any trial?

About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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21 Responses to Creative ways to kill time during jury duty – with poll

  1. azmouse says:

    Love those shoes!

    Sorry you have jury duty. It’s usually grueling and I personally never get picked.

    I’m pretty content as long as I have a book to read. I’ll admit I have made up lives for people when I’ve been in a waiting area for long periods of time. It is fun.
    I’ve definitely gotten much more patient now that I’m an old lady, though.  lol

    • Rynski says:

      I love the shoes, too! but they went back to the store long ago for their lack of me being able to walk in them.
      Thanks for jury duty sympathy. A good book – or crappy tabloids – help pass the time – you’re right. but like on an airplane, it’s sometimes hard for me to concentrate.
      you’re not an old lady!

      • azmouse says:

        Shoot, I could’ve bought those shoes from you. They go with everything. I have a super cool pair of camouflage high heels I’ve had forever. One of my all time favorite pairs.

        It is hard to cencentrate when there are so many peeps around, but if it’s a really good book or rag-mag, I can get consumed.
        Hang tough!

  2. Marie says:

    I kinda like jury duty.   It gives me a quiet day to do paperwork.    Let’s see, in previous years, I have sorted through a handful of tax receipts,  re-organized the binder that holds most of my files from home, reviewed insurance plans, etc.    Nothing to terribly exciting but things that have to get done.   In the chance that I’m dismissed early, I’ll sometimes take the opportunity to have a leisurely lunch, or catch the latest exhibit at the Tucson Museum of Art, sans anyone asking me, “…are you done looking, can we go home now?”   

    And no… I never get picked for jury duty anymore.  

  3. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! Time to do your civic duty as a proud American eh? This always creates a dilemma for me, as I really would like to be on the jury of an interesting case(I actually was once), but find the entire selection system boring, annoying and tedious. To pass the time I try to figure out what kind of verdict potential jurors around me would choose if I came before them as the accused. Sometimes I laugh out loud at my conclusions, causing more than a little consternation for those around me. If you wish to dodge jury duty, tell the judge you have a knack for judging peoples faces for innocence or guilt, that should do the trick. If that fails you can use the old American Nazi Party member ruse. Never fails. Have fun! Try not to fall asleep before your group is called. 🙂

  4. Jennatoolz says:

    I was summoned earlier this year, and my experience wasn’t so bad. The waiting around just sucks! But they selected me pretty early in the day, and eventually I wound up on the jury! When lunch time came around, it was cool because they had some fair thing going on downtown…lots of creative people standing in their tents with their artwork and other creations. It was a nice break, and luckily we the jury deliberated and came up with a verdict by about 4pm so I didn’t have to come back the next day! It wasn’t so bad, but I would have rather gone to work.

  5. A.Farley says:

    I always round file them, if it doesn’t come certified mail, I never received it and they never came back. Civic duty hell, I pay taxes for that. My captcha is “phooey that”

  6. koreyk says:

    It could be worse Ryn.  Jury duty here used to be for five days.
    My first time was in the mid to late 80’s.  Monday through Friday.  Fortunately, I had a wonderful employer that paid our full salaries when we were on jury duty.  I was called into several pools, but only got on one jury, which was for a contested traffic ticket and lasted all of two hours.  In between, I attempted to get some work done, which was mostly paperwork and sketching up details for the drafters.  Then, around 3:30 on Friday, as I was anxiously eyeing the clock, I got called into another pool…for a murder trial.   Oh, but since it was so late in the day we all had to come back on Monday.

    During voir dire we were asked if anyone opposed the death penalty.  I raised my hand and was singled out for further questioning.  Then they asked if anyone had any alcoholics in their family.  My hand goes up again and I am singled out for what felt like a lengthy grilling under the Klieg lights.  But at least I will be rejected after all of that I am thinking.  HA!!  Both sides apparantly loved me.

    The trial itself was an interesting experience to say the least.  Even when discounting the fact that there was a murder, the entire story was quite sad and pathetic.  All the players were the forgotten “dregs” of society, so justice got dispensed rapidly…just 3-1/2 days.  

    Even with the quick trial, there was a lot of slack time in the jury room before deliberation where you are only allowed to have awkward meaningless conversations or stare into space, so I was able to get more work done.  Because there was a monstro table in there, I brought in a full set of plans to redline (mark up for corrections).  They were for a Walgreens remodel, so that fit in well with the whole pathetic vibe.


    • Rynski says:

      FIVE days? that’s like purgatory haha. I surely had enough after one day. didn’t get on a jury but got closest i’ve ever been. don’t know if that’s a good thing, may mean next time i just may make it…

  7. Romeo says:

    I throw away the summons, then I throw away the postcards that follow. I also threw away the red light photocam ticket I recieved in March. Only jury duty I will do is Federal, pays better and more interesting stuff than DUI’s!

    • Jennatoolz says:

      Nice…lol. I think they sent me a check for something around $16 for the ENTIRE day I spent there. I would have opted for mileage reimbursement, but it would have been another $4 or so because of the zip code I live in. Just like Koreyk, my employer paid me full salary for a full day, so I didn’t really mind.

  8. radmax says:

    Question: what are the consequences of not attending jury duty?

    Answer: It is unlawful to ignore the summon to appear. If someone believes they can not serve as a juror they must notify the court and request a postponement or otherwise be excused from duty by the court. Failure to respond to the court summons may be seen as contempt of court, the person may be compelled to appear and a fine not exceeding $500 may be imposed for nonattendance. ARS 21-334.
    Photo Enforcement: FAQ


    Q: What happens if I fail to respond by the court date?

    Once the court date has past, a process server will be notified. You will be subject to
    personal service of the Complaint and Summons and the cost of personal service will be
    assessed to you. In addition, you will be subject to a default judgment, the assessment
    of a fine, surcharges and fees and the suspension of your driver license



    • radmax says:

      Might be more economical to not let the system get it’s hands on you…

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Right…I can tell you from experience, it is not saving yourself money if you don’t pay your tickets. The late fees and the fees to reinstate your license only add to the cost. Not to mention the annoyance of not being able to legally drive. In my own case, I put off paying a speeding ticket I acquired in Mammoth, AZ. My license got suspended, and I had to have my boyfriend drive me all the way there so I could pay them in cash. THEN, I had him drive me to the MVD so I could pay them the fees to reinstate my license. Overall, I think I had to pay over $100 more than if I would have just paid the ticket before its date, not to mention the 3 hours driving to/from Mammoth and the gas. Lesson LEARNED! 😛

  9. Karen Nelson says:

    I feel annoyed and a little sad when I get a jury summons. I have gone many times and never been picked. I truly believe that most times they don’t want worldly, logical, intelligent people of sound mind on the juries… that makes me sad. Not that I am really all those things, I just seem that way I guess! My greatest nightmare is that I get selected for a trial and I am the only sensible person on the jury!! In my own mind, of course!
    I usually bring all the reading material I haven’t gotten around to in the last few months… you can get through a lot! I also write stories or poetry… usually about people I see there…
    Hope your experience is over quickly!

    • Rynski says:

      ha! i can imagine someone seething with guilt but everyone else thinking he/she is innocent. that would be bad. i ended up not having much time to kill at all – just the lunch break – as i got whizzed up to a courtroom pretty quickly. can’t really pull out laptop and start surfing the internet when that judge guy is talking.

  10. leftfield says:

    Crossword puzzles are my way of passing the time while waiting.

    I look forward to being called and hope that one day I can sit on a jury.

    Mrs. Leftfield actually served on a Grand Jury twice a week for a month (Pinal County).  Her stories served to remind me that people don’t suddenly get smarter or drop their prejudices when they enter a jury room.  Perhaps there should be some minimum requirements for jury duty ( and a maximum age).  Do you regularly visit a dentist?  No? You’re out!  Have you ever worn a shirt without sleeves?  Yes?  You’re out!  Is there a knitted cozy on the extra roll in your bathroom?  Yes?  You’re out!

    • azmouse says:

      You crack me up….;)

    • radmax says:

      Hey! My grandma had a tp cozy! Think you’re right though, she would have made a terrible jurist. Did  Mrs. Leftfield find her experience worthwhile? Iwas chosen for the grand jury in June and had to bail, as we are shorthanded at work due to corporate cut-backs. I was looking forward to it. It does demand a lot of time though. PS- If you want to make the jury, when they ask what mags you subcribe to, tell ’em Archaelogy,  American History and the National Review. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll get picked.

    • Rynski says:

      i think EVERYONE’s grandma had a tp cozy! those are great relics. my gma even had one for the holidays with a little plastic santa and some faux holly stuck to the top.

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