Civic Duty

 The Notice That Keeps on Giving

A few weeks ago, I got one of those pesky notices that Americans everywhere dread - a Jury Summons. I tried my best to think of a reason to weasel out of it, but I couldn't think of anything short of lying and I wasn't about to do that. So, I waited a couple of months for my week to come around and completed the jury orientation online.


Call Me

On the eve of the first day of my scheduled jury duty week, I was required to call-in to find out whether or not I had to report the following day. So on Sunday I called the 1-800 number, crossed my fingers and heard this recorded message "...You do not have to report for jury duty on Monday, please call back on Monday evening..." "Yes!" I thought "If the rest of the week goes as planned I’ll be alright!" Then Monday evening rolled around and I called again (with my fingers crossed again) and I heard the message "...You do not have to report for jury duty on Tuesday, please call back on Tuesday evening..." "Okay," I thought "This is going very well, just three days left." When Tuesday evening came I called again (with my fingers crossed) and I heard the message "Please report for jury service on Wednesday at…" "What!" I thought, "But I had my fingers crossed!"  As I hung up the phone, I was going over in my mind what the message had said, the message I'd dreaded. I wrote down the address of the courthouse, the time I had to be there, and where I could find parking. Oh, and the message said I couldn't bring my cell phone into the courthouse, so I thought about what I would do to pass the time and decided to bring a book.

My Civic Duty

On Wednesday morning I left my house about 45 minutes earlier than I needed, which my husband thought was odd, but I wanted to make sure I got a "good" parking space. I also wanted to be sure I was not tardy. I had heard if you're not there when they call your name, 'bad things' can happen. As I went into the courthouse, I walked past several people talking to what I assumed were their attorneys, and I caught the gaze of one gentleman who was seemingly saying to me "If you’re a juror, I’m innocent!" As I turned the corner towards the jury assembly room, I saw a sea of people all with the same solemn look on their faces. You would have thought they were on trial!

When I checked-in, the clerk told me that I could return in a couple of hours because I had completed the jury orientation online. Well, I wasn't about to move my car from that great parking space close to the courthouse, so I decided to take a stroll and ended up at the library. There I browsed through books and found some interesting things to read. I ended up going back a half hour early because once again, I didn't want to be absent if they called my name.

As I walked back to the jury room, I saw the same sea of people, and I thought "Okay, they haven't let anyone go home yet." I walked up to the clerk and informed her I was back, as if she knew who I was. She just said "Take a seat; I will be taking roll soon." Well, at least I had made it back on time. Twenty minutes later (which was 10 minutes earlier than the time I was told to return) the clerk began to take roll and said she would be calling the names of people in "Group 1." After about 10 names, my name was called and I answered loudly "here!"  One woman, however, was late and when her name was called (about 4 times) she was not there to answer. When she walked up to the clerk she was told that she would now be in group 2 because she was late.

I Love My Group

After about an hour and a half, the clerk said that she would be passing out numbers to everyone in group 1. "Okay, that’s me" I thought, and just as I was thinking that the clerk said, "Oh, I’m sorry, I mean I will be passing out numbers to group 2," "That’s not me!" The clerk than proceeded call the names of everyone in group 2 and handed each person in the group a number. We all waited some more and about an hour later the clerk told everyone from group 2 to follow her into one of the courtrooms and off they went like cattle being herded. The rest of us from group 1 were left to wait for another forty-five minutes until about 3:15 in the afternoon when the clerk told the rest of us from group 1 that she had an announcement. She said that the defendant (from our case) had struck a plea deal and everyone in group 1 was free to go home. We all thanked our lucky stars that we were not in group 2 and we all left, happy as clams at high tide! Boy, was I glad that I had been on time!

As folks from our group walked out of the courthouse, a security guard said "See you tomorrow," to which one of my fellow jurors politely answered "Oh no you won’t!" As for me, I left singing the tune from The Wizard of Oz in my head with the following words: "Ding dong jury duty is over, jury duty is over, jury duty is over; ding dong Ju-ry Du-ty is OVER!"

Just Icing (or Ice Cream) on the Cake

When I got home, I saw a note on my refrigerator door instructing me to open the freezer. When I opened it I found a bag containing a cup of my favorite ice cream. My teenage daughter, who was not home at the time, had picked it up after school for me. As I sat eating my delicious treat I started to think "Yum, yum!Civic duty never tasted so good!!" I also wondered if the people from group 2 were still at the courthouse, and how it pays to be on time.


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