I had jury duty this week. Of course, I was a little put out about it. I feel like I get called frequently, but that’s what everyone says. Maybe it just seems that way. Anyway, as a potential juror, you’re instructed to call a number the weekend prior to your assigned date and listen to a recorded message which lets you know, according to the panel number you’re assigned, if you are needed to show up to the courthouse on Monday morning. If you are told you are not needed to go to the courthouse on Monday morning, you must call back Monday evening and check if you’re needed on Tuesday morning. Etc, etc… Since the nature of my job is to see appointed patients, I cannot simply call the office on Monday morning and say,”Sorry, I can’t come in today. Looks like you’ll have to reschedule my day. I’ll let you know what tomorrow looks like…tomorrow.” Common courtesy dictates that advance notice is given to change appointments, some of which have been in the schedule for several months.
So, in an, admittedly lame attempt to get advance information, I called the courthouse last week and spoke with a real person asking if there was any way she might know if I would be needed to serve, so I would know whether to have our poor receptionist call and reschedule people (although, in truth, I have to believe that a lot of people must be relieved when the dentist office says, “Hope you’re not too disappointed, but we can’t see you next week.”) And, I have to say, it was a very nice woman I spoke with who apologetically responded that she could not say with any degree of certainty whether I would be needed or not. She said it looked like I would probably have to at least show up on Monday. At that time, I could explain my situation, in which I might then be placed on a one-day trial. So, feeling like I had no other choice, I went ahead and rescheduled my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. I left Wednesday afternoon booked because I figured I’d most likely be free to work by then, and if not, would simply reschedule that, as well. I couldn’t stomach blocking out my whole week. Since I am not salaried, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.
Sunday night rolled along and I made my call, only to be told that I did not have to show up the next day. Well, that was a bust. Too late to call people back. That would really be awful for the patients to first be told,no we can’t see you and then get a call saying, oh wait, yes we can. So, I had an unexpected day off and tried to be productive. You know…writing blogs and stuff. On Monday night, I made my obligatory call and was told to show up bright and early Tuesday morning. Entering the courthouse, I walked through the metal detector behind a group that seemed to b e together: two women and a young man of about twenty. Honestly, I’m being kind describing him as a young man. While his age and gender would surely agree with that portrayal, the truth is the kid looked like kind of sad sack. He was short and quite overweight and donned a large cubic zirconia stud in his lobe, which appeared a bit silly. He had the appearance of someone who desperately wanted to fit in…somewhere. After going through security, we were met with a friendly woman directing jurors to follow the hallway to the right. The boy in front of me said in such a sad, pathetic voice, “I wish I was here for jury duty” which the woman returned with a kind smile. Well that sure gave me a little perspective on my plight. As least I was on the right side of the law.
After several hours of waiting, being sworn in, and answering a myriad of questions by the State’s Attorneys, I was accepted for jury duty. Then the defense attorney asked me about three questions, returned to her table and said to the judge, “Your Honor, the defense would like to thank and excuse Juror #77.” What??? That was me. What did I say?? I thought for sure I would be selected. I knew what the case would be. It sounded like it would be a quick and possibly interesting trial. I felt so…so rejected. Self-consciously, I picked up my purse and walked over to the Baliff who told me to return to the Jury Commission Room – the place where my oddessy began. Upon entering the jury Commission Room, I was directed to the dining room where I was treated to a rather tasty lunch. Eating the sandwich and chips seemed to soothe my hurt feelings.
Checking my voice mail, I learned that the receptionist at my office was frantically trying to reach me, saying, “We don’t know where you are.” How was that possible? It was clearly written on the schedule that I would not be there on Mon, Tues or Wed morning because of jury duty. In her panic, she went ahead and cancelled my afternoon patients. All but the last one at 4:00. I think that’s when I screamed, “Are you KIDDING me???” What the heck? Thank goodness I had a state-provided and paid for lunch to soften my mood. And actually, the joke’s on them, because not only did I get a yummy lunch at their expense without having the burden of sitting on a jury, I’m gonna get ten dollars for my time, to boot. I just hope that check doesn’t bounce like the last time I had jury duty…