Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jury Duty

I have been summoned for jury duty again. The summons says I have to report to the courthouse at 8 a.m. Monday morning. Eight a.m.! Are people still doing that? Wow. I do get up at six-thirty a couple of days a week because that’s how my life is, but I don’t like it. Being at the courthouse ready to be a juror at 8 a.m. does not entirely make sense to me, because when I worked for the county the workday did not begin until 8:30 a.m. Maybe they want us to be present when employees come dragging in all droopy-eyed at 8:30, clutching their coffee cups and counting the days until their twenty years with the county are up so they can retire with a pension. A big part of jury duty, in my experience, is sitting and waiting to be called. You need to pack some things to pass the time – a knit or crochet project, a book, a smart phone or a tablet in these technological times. It’s good to stake out the location of the bathroom early, and to have some food in your backpack or purse. Sustaining food - nuts, a boiled egg, fruit, carrot sticks, water of course. The candy bars go without saying but a woman does not live by chocolate alone. It seems that way sometimes, but we have other nutritional needs. Potato chips. Halvah. Once you have provided for your physical and
mental needs while waiting for your number to be called, you might consider trying to strike up a conversation with fellow potential jury members. I flunked Small Talk 101, but I listen well. Until I get someone else talking, I try to imitate normal people, and have some rules. Avoid politics and religion. Sports are good. The weather, of course. If you want to hear tales to curl your hair, though, get people talking about their children. The conversation often goes deep, fast. Most people aren’t talking about how their kid’s biggest problem is choosing among the prestigious four-year colleges that have given him or her a full ride scholarship. No. Most people talk about how their child has struggled, in school and in life, and while parents don’t say so, it is apparent that they have had a great deal of heartache watching their beloved, unique children collide with a world that demands conformity more than uniqueness. They do brag about accomplishments, but they also talk about disabilities, autism, Down Syndrome, addictions, arrests, cults, car wrecks, homosexuality, estrangements, spouses (horrible or wonderful), tragic deaths, unexpected pregnancies, and the rest of the rich panoply of human experience. Then, if their children survived childhood and adolescence, parents talk about how their children triumphed in some way: they are now adults who have jobs and families, who do good work, who help people, who have ultimately made their parents proud of their great kids. Often the wallets come out and you get to see pictures of the grandchildren. Yup, children are a pretty reliable subject. Except with people who don’t have children, who are angry because they have been told they are weird for not having children, or that they “can’t understand” something because they don’t have children. Yeah, that would make me angry, too. Childless people, as well as parents, will show you pictures of their cats, dogs, horses, and other family members of different species, and tell you stories about them. The time flies. So maybe you get placed on a jury, or maybe you get sent home. I’m hoping I don’t qualify this time, mostly because I hate getting up early, and because I have an important medical appointment on Wednesday of that week which could not be re-scheduled for months. We’ll see how it goes. First hurdle is to arrive on time Monday morning. I need to go get some more coffee.

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