The second floor cafeteria of the Dirksen Federal Building looks more like the inside of a newsroom than a lunchroom.
Spread out among a dozen tables and some couches are journalists from every media outlet in town, waiting for a jury of 11 women and one man to decide former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's fate. Tuesday is the third day of deliberations. On Monday, jurors left at 4 p.m. without a verdict.
The hottest item in the Dirksen cafe isn't today's special, the chicken kabobs or the stir-fry. It's the power strips occupying a handful of outlets along the wall. Working journalists are desperate to keep their laptops and iPads charged in the event of a verdict.
Among the computers littering the tables are dozens of notebooks as we pour for the umpteenth time over phone calls, evidence and charges against Blagojevich.
We all know the case like the back of our hands, yet we study as if the verdict were the entrance exam to Harvard.
When we aren't studying, we socialize with one another, trading notes on the trial or talking about our personal lives. But we remain guarded at all times.
Like firefighters, we are ready to pack up at a moment's notice and crowd into elevators as we race up to the 25th floor where a verdict or a question from the jury will be read aloud by Judge Zagel.
And it's a waiting game, literally. From "Words with Friends" being played on dueling iPads, to games of Scrabble, the competition is friendly ... for now.
But that could change if we have another 11 days of watching and waiting for the verdict.
How long will it take? It's anyone's guess.