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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Would you like to know why I wasnít enthusiastic about being called for jury duty? I mean, besides the fact that I donít like to do anything one day that is different from the day before, and I donít like to leave the comfort of home for any reason, even a good reason. Well, hereís how my Monday went. Maybe this will explain it.

Even though I was grateful not to have been asked to appear first thing Monday morning (as if there was such a thing in my world), I did have to call in at 11:15 am to find out the next move. And what I found out was that I had to be at the courthouse at 12:30 pm. My heart sank, not because I didnít want to give up my Monday afternoon but because it was raining hard, like a day in February. The Longest Winter Ever continues. Ironically, one of the reasons Iíd postponed my jury service from January to May was to avoid the bad weather.

Because of the rain and the noon traffic, I was a few frantic minutes late for my assignment. Because of the construction around the building, I had to rely on prior knowledge to find my way to the front door. Because the signage inside the building was so bad, I had to follow the crowd to the room where we were supposed to wait.

It didnít matter that I was five minutes late, though. The sign on the wall tells you what to do if youíre more than fifteen minutes late; any less and youíre golden. It didnít say what to do if youíre soaking wet and trying to fill out their paperwork while water is dripping off all your body parts and you canít see through your spattered specs.

They had called in more people than there were seats for in the jury assembly room, so I sat in the hall and listened over the PA system to their speeches and the soundtrack of their uplifting little movie featurette about how good youíre going to feel when this is over (I canít argue with that). Then they gave us a half hour break, and after that I waited yet another half hour before they called everyone into the room.

They then read off the names and juror numbers of people who were not part of the jury panel. There were 67 of us, and everyone else had to stay in the room and wait for the judge to address them, because there wasnít enough room in the courtroom. The rest of us were told to go away and come back in half an hour.

For the next couple of hours we were in and out of the room, listening to names and numbers being read and watching people leave (most of them to plead their hardship cases with judges). The chairs were so uncomfortable that my back tightened up, and I gradually became so tense that I could barely breathe.

At 4:00, after what seemed like eight hours (but was less than four), everyone who was left was called back into the room. There were maybe forty of us by then, and they read off the names and numbers of people who were through for the day and allowed to go home. Everyone who was still there should have been on that list, but there were six of us whose names were not called. We were a little upset about that. I didnít know how much longer I would be held hostage.

We were informed bluntly that our names had been read earlier and we were supposed to be in courtrooms waiting to be interviewed. We assured the woman in charge that our names had not been read, and we had never been sent anywhere except back and forth between the room and the hall. She took about ten minutes to check her notes, and then, one by one, we were finally sent home and told we wouldnít be called back for at least a year.

14 May 2010

By the time I finally found my way out of the building it was raining even harder than it had been earlier. I drove home through the torrent, at times unable to see through the windshield. Itís a good thing I smelled the barn and could have found my way with my eyes closed. I was hungry, hurting and pretty useless for the rest of the day. And the next day, and the day after that. Wonder why I didnít want to go through this? Thatís why.

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