Jury Duty: Security Check

Outside the Federal Building (219 South Dearborn Street), where I was to report in for the day. Literally? Right around the corner from where I work.

Outside, I was a bit nervous taking this photo. I’ve heard too many horror stories about photographers being hassled for taking shots while on public property, and went about my photographs quickly.

On going through the Security Check, I took off my coat, scarf, and did the usual dance – wallet out, keys out, coins out. When putting my backpack onto the metal detector, I asked if I needed to take out Liz’s laptop (I read that you could bring a computer, but that you could only use it in the Jury Lounge).

An elderly gentleman asked me if the computer was on, and I told him “no.” He then said to me “I want you to show me something. Take it out, and I want you to show me something, and I’ll give you ten bucks for it.”

Figuring he wanted to double-check that I wasn’t bringing in some kind of bomb or illegal device… I figured he just wanted me to turn on the laptop, and was just joking around with me. I’ve seen this sort of check before at airports, where the security personnel just want to verify that your piece of electronic equipment functions as intended.

I gathered up all my belongings, and moved over to a nearby concrete bench. I set everything down, pulled out the laptop, and waited for the guard.

Now – this guy was old. I’d say maybe in his 60’s or so. He leaned over to me and said “I’m getting a new computer next week, and I want to know how this works.” He pointed to the mousepad, and waved his fingers over it.

Immediately, I went into Tech Support mode. Was he getting a PC or a Mac? Was he familiar with a regular mouse? He was? Well, the laptop mousepad was no different. On his new PC, he would end up seeing two buttons, and they worked just like a regular mouse.

I turned on my computer to show him, and he kept asking some fairly basic questions. What looked like an available wireless network popped up (it was named “auto_install” or something like that), and he asked me how to use the mousepad to close it. He then asked me how to double-click and open a folder, and how to close a folder.

After that, he thanked me and said “I’ll pay you that $10 tomorrow.” We both laughed, and I went about my way. Funny, I thought to myself, that he didn’t know how a mousepad worked. I figured there would be some additional security sweep/check, but all he wanted was to learn how to use the mousepad.

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