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My civic duty
July 4, 2014 - John Mehno
You're right, it's been a while.
I had jury duty. It was only two days, but I've discovered that jury duty is a great catch-all excuse. People nod knowingly and don't ask any questions, so it works.
I got my notice in the mail telling me to call a number at a particular time to see if I was required to report. I misread the instructions and didn't call. They called me and left a voice mail, telling me I was supposed to be there at 8 a.m. on Monday. This was a major hardship, given that I had to wake up at 6 a.m., which is usually the time I'm ready to go to sleep.
But I got there and was soon herded into a room with 96 other people. One hundred were called, 97 showed up. They sent sheriff's deputies to round up the three stragglers. We were packed into a room where coffee, tea and water were free. Some old guy in well-shined shoes asked if there were cookies, too. The answer was no. I know what you're thinking: Was I the worst-dressed person there? Surprisingly, no. There were a couple of people in t-shirts. It was sort of like an airport waiting area, where you're sharing a common inconvenience with strangers. We were given lengthy instructions by a very pedantic guy, sworn in, then led into the courtroom. The judge introduced the accused, the attorneys for both sides and then read the charges against the accused. That last part took a while. He had apparently been a very busy guy.
I can't say much about the case because they told us not to talk about it. It's probably OK now, but I don't want to risk a return trip to the court house. We were called back for a second day to be interviewed by the judge and lawyers. I got the 12:30 session, which was more manageable. Some of the court employees wanted to talk about sports during the down time, so that was OK. I got called in to the witness stand and was soon excused. Again, I'll offer no details but doesn't my exclusion sort of restore your faith in the American justice system? So I went home, and now I'm immune from jury duty for a year.
Since then, I've gotten a check for $22.76, which covers two days of duty at $9 each, plus a pittance for mileage. It's also a reminder that there are actually jobs that pay worse than sports writing. Otherwise, it was a semi-interesting experience, but I could have done without a 6 a.m. wake-up call. It threw off my nap schedule.
One other thing: I think I'm still under oath. So this wouldn't be a good time to ask me if those shorts make your butt look big.