Just the mere mention of it, brings fear to almost all of us. Alas, when your number is up, it's up, and unlike the deli counter, nobody wants to know that their number was called. Yes, it's what many try to spend a lifetime dodging -- Jury Duty.
First, you get notified that you are among the chosen people. Then, if you don't respond, you are sent a reminder postcard, instructing you to call the court. I never got the original notice. I swear. Did not. Would definitely have remembered that.
But one day, a few weeks ago, there I was minding my own business, while I was pulling out of my driveway. OK, not really. I was definitely minding my neighbor's business, because she had the cutest workmen in her driveway. They'd been coming to her house, every day for the past several days and I never saw evidence that they were actually doing any work. But they did get out of a truck and they seemed to have equipment and tools. I was wondering what I could break to make them park in my driveway when I was most unpleasantly accosted -- OK, maybe not accosted -- by my mailman. He had walked up to my car to deliver my mail. Yeah, yeah, whatever.
I threw the mail on the seat, I was rushing off to volunteer at a charity event. Well, not really/at all -- I was however, running a bit late to see one of Bravo's Real Housewives, appear at a book store for a book signing. I knew from past experience -- yes, I have now seen/met/stalked four of them -- that you have to get there early because these crazy women - I mean fellow fans - practically camp out just to get a chance to say two words to Jill Zarin, Bethenny Frankel, Teresa Giudice or Dina Manzo.
For the record, I never camp out. And I say a lot more than two words.
So I was focused on getting a prime parking spot and position on line and not on what the mailman gave me. It wasn't until after I got home from the event -- it was Bethenny -- that I actually looked at my mail.
There it was, a postcard. THE postcard. I was a bit thrown because I really had never received the original notification. The date I was supposed to show up, was fast approaching. I had to call the court. I tried to remember, from years ago, what to say to get out of it. Because that is everyone's knee jerk reaction.
How do I get out of this? I no longer had very young children. I was told that saying I am an independent contractor and would lose income, was not going to help me. I could not think of a physician who would write me a note saying I had some vague, but dangerous and most definitely contagious, condition. And I'm pretty sure that now, being crazy just makes you a more viable candidate. If you have multiple personalities, the attorneys have more chances to win you over.
I knew that I could get it postponed. But I also knew that now that they had me, they weren't going to let me go. I didn't want to spend the next several months, dodging the mailman. I decided that I would rather just go and let them see why I was a poor potential juror, in person.
I showed up to court feeling anxious and a bit nervous. I got there early and brought my computer -- so I could work, a book -- so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone else - and a piece of fruit. No need to pack lunch, I was getting out of there. I'd be home for lunch. The fruit was a nod to the Sex and the City episode when Carrie Bradshaw -- Sarah Jessica Parker -- was serving on jury duty and a fellow juror brought strange fruit each day.
Eventually, our large group was made smaller, we were taken to a courtroom with a judge and two opposing attorneys. Surely, they would see how inappropriate I was for jury duty. I am very opinionated, and did not think I could be fair, when I didn't think it was fair that I was there.
We were asked a series of questions -- to determine our viability as potential jurors. It was at this point that I realized that I could say something to deter them from choosing me. To my own horror and surprise, it was at this moment that my previously unseen patriotic gene, kicked in. It was my duty to be the voice of reason on this jury. Surely, I would be just and fair, and would make sure that everyone else would be just and fair -- that of course, means agrees with me. Who cares what they think? I may have discovered civic pride but I'm still bossy.
I answered all the questions honestly. Then they asked biographical questions. As I have been fervently looking for a job, I viewed this as a verbal recitation of my resume. A networking opportunity -- I spoke loudly and clearly. You never know who is in your jury pool. Yes, I'm that desperate.
I was the only potential juror that the attorneys had a sidebar about. Not kidding.
So, to speed things up, I was chosen for the jury, and served for a week and a half. Each day, I listened to complex testimony and -- we were not allowed to take notes. I took this responsibility quite seriously and did not discuss the case with anyone. My opinion vacillated from day to day with each new expert witness and evidence produced. By the last day, I was sure how I felt and felt sure that the rest of the jurors would agree. How could they not?
They didn't -- we were a hung jury. We could not agree. We could not convince the last holdout, and believe me -- I tried. Pulled out all the stops. Nada. Rendering the entire process, useless. ARGH.
Last week they said, that Sarah Palin suspended her One Nation tour -- you know the one where she is not campaigning across the country -- because she has jury duty in Alaska. The only thing scarier than her determining our fate as a nation, would be for her to determine your own, personal fate. YIKES!
But it probably would be quite an experience to serve with her on a jury. I think you could likely get a book deal -- or maybe just a signed Dancing With the Stars Poster of Bristol. Which is more than I got.
After the fact, one of my friends told me that you can actually google, how to get out of jury duty. I did and decided that next time, I will take George Carlin's suggestion: "Tell the judge you'll make a great juror, as you can spot guilty people just by looking at them."
Why didn't I think of that?
What bothered me the most about this experience was that there was no closure. So I think a parting gift would have made all of us feel better. Sort of like, "Sorry we wasted your time, because nothing got resolved, here's a nice fruit basket/ gift certificate/ piece of bling, for your time."
For bling, my civic gene could kick in again, say in three years, when I am eligible to be called again. Just saying.