A group of people against their will enter a lone space together. They desperately want to leave, but signs of authority are everywhere.
Armed officers and cameras watch their every move. The people are powerless against them; every single one of them is unarmed, as they were searched before entering the space.
There are no friends, and no one talks to each other. The room is in absolute silence as everyone fearfully contemplates his or her fate.
Then, the moment comes that everyone has been dreading: the moment their lives change. A voice announces that she will begin calling names. Those chosen must leave the safe space and follow the others selected out of the room with their armed escorts.
As the names are announced, curses are uttered along with gasps of horror and disdain. They have to go. They have no choice.
No, this isn't the reaping sequence from Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games." It's my description of my first morning of jury duty.
Granted, that was a dramatization, but honestly, not by much. As I sat in the jury room, having survived the first reaping of names, I couldn't help but think how strikingly similar the two are.
At every turn of my jury duty, I found some way to trace it back to "The Hunger Games."
1. The Use of Propaganda
Before the reaping ceremony, a Capitol representative shows all the potential tributes why this ceremony exists. It's a not-so-subtle explanation of why they are forced to be there and participate.
After all the jurors were gathered into one room and before we were eventually reaped, someone from the administration put on a video for us to explain what could happen if we are selected.
While it was moderately informative (though I would have preferred a "Law & Order" episode instead), there was definitely something else going on there. An intimidating judge told me he knew no one liked jury duty, but it was an honorable tradition of our country.
In fact, jury duty is what makes us the best country in the world, and the judge stressed the value of serving and upholding the traditions of our legal system.
The importance of participating in jury duty is unparalleled; it's the glue that holds our country together.
As a history major, I can sincerely appreciate the idea of jury duty, but don't for a second try to tell me that video did not have an agenda. While this is not the video I saw, it's message is roughly the same one.
2. Alliances Can Form and Dissolve Quickly
Alliances can make or break a player in "The Hunger Games." The most common alliances formed are those from the same district.
The other most commonly formed is the Career Alliance where tributes from Districts one, two and four kill everyone off first and then turn on each other.
The most famous alliance formed, though, was between Katniss and Rue. They protected each other and shared a unique bond, even though they were from different districts. Their alliance and friendship was tragically cut short when Rue was killed.
On the morning of my jury duty, I, too, was looking for an alliance of my very own. As I took the elevator up from the parking garage, another lady about 10 years older than me hopped on.
We stared at each other, sizing one another up. Then, she said the magic words I had been waiting to hear: "Are you here for jury duty, too?" We became inseparable after that. We walked to the court, got searched by security and wrangled into the waiting room, always together.
We sat next to each other during the first reaping, and both rejoiced with victory coffees to celebrate our survivals. In a room where no one was talking, we bonded over our love of Ricky Martin, played along with "The Price is Right" and shared a snack of Goldfish. She was my everything.
Then, two and a half hours later, the second reaping occurred and my name was announced. We looked at each other in horror. She gasped and said "No, that can't be you!" I bravely nodded and set out. She screamed back, "I'll be here when you get back." I never saw her again.
3. Strategies Are Crucial
While surviving "The Hunger Games" is largely up to chance, there is a huge portion that is decided by a player's strategy.
The first major strategy a player can develop is what to do at the Cornucopia. It's filled with lots of useful weapons, supplies and food but almost certainly equals a blood bath.
One can avoid the blood shed by darting directly into the arena, but he or she will be without aid. Whatever the player decides, it's risky and will affect his or her game play and survival.
Strategies also play into getting selected for a jury. When names are selected for a trial, around 60 names will be called, even though a jury only needs 12. That means there are a lot of opportunities to get out of it, which is where strategies come in.
Through my eavesdropping, I discovered many people had specific tactics to get out of serving. Some concentrated on appearance. One older lady gleefully said she had picked the beyond hideous skirt she had worn because it had remained in her closet since the 80s.
She didn't think anyone in their right mind would want her sitting on their jury. (I couldn't help but silently agree; the skirt was nauseating and orange.)
I myself had worn a red bandana in my hair to give off a country girl, redneck vibe. Others concentrated on flunking the written exam we were given. Jurors are asked basic questions like, do you think you can give an unbiased verdict on this trial, or do you value the word of a police officer over another person?
If you want out of jury duty, just answer those questions with the answer you know they don't want, even if it's not your opinion. There is always the Liz Lemon option: Play crazy.
There was a woman who sat next to me, who talked to herself during the entire proceedings. One of the officers next to me and I exchanged looks of confusion/horror.
While she may have been mentally unhinged, I can't help but feel that it was a little on purpose because guess who wasn't picked to serve?
4. In the Words of the Great Admiral Ackbar, "IT'S A TRAP."
Throughout the battle, surprises are everywhere. Just when players think they are safe, BOOM, tracker jackers, crazy weather and force fields come into play. In short, the Hunger Games always keep players on their toes.
As the armed guards escorted the selected jurors from our safe room to the court room, they stopped us at the elevators.
They instructed us to get on and go to the fifth floor. While the first group went up, I couldn't help but feel like something was about to go horribly wrong.
As it turns out, all elevators decided they did not want to go to the fifth floor. The poor jurors in the first group were sent to the sixth and then fourth floors and wandered around lost and confused until they were found. As I was herded up the stairs, I couldn't help but be on my guard.
While I'm 90 percent sure the elevator incident was a horrible accident, there is 10 percent of me that thinks the administration did it for kicks and giggles.
5. Even If You Win, You Can Still Lose
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become the first co-winners of the Hunger Games. They should have lived the rest of their lives showered in riches and lived comfortably because that's what the Capitol promised them.
However, a mere year later, the dynamic duo were forced back into the arena in a sick, all-star version of the Hunger Games. Even though they won their Hunger Games, they got thrown back in again.
Through a series of events, I was selected not to serve on the jury for which I had initially been reaped. It was a joyous victory. I was excited to end my day of service and go on with my life.
However, I was told by the judge that I had to go back to the waiting room, where my number would be scanned back in again. I was devastated.
If I was deemed unfit to serve by a judge, why should I have to go through the process again? As I trudged back to the room, I tried to keep my spirits high.
I thought the rest of my day could be spent waiting to be called while eating my Goldfish and binge-watching "Dawson's Creek" on Netflix. However, an hour later, my number was called.
I felt like Al Pacino in "The Godfather: Part III": Every time I'm out, THEY PULL ME BACK IN. While I had beaten the system once, it seemed it was not ready for me to leave quite yet. I was forced back in against my will.
6. 12 is key
This one is not a creative anecdote. I just had to point out that there are 12 districts in the Hunger Games and 12 members on a jury. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
Both the jury system and "The Hunger Games" felt that 12 was the best number to fully represent a large body of people. They also both have a secret alternative.
The jurors always have an alternate in case someone is not able to fully complete his or her duties, and in the second novel, "Catching Fire," the readers learn that a secret district, 13, does exist.
When that terrifying day comes and the mailbox is opened, and the jury summons is discovered, I leave you with this wish: May the odds be ever in your favor.