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I’m sure many of you noticed that today was unusually long, that the day just dragged on and on, the hands of a watch barely managing to advance microscopic tick by microscopic tick to mark the passage of time. However, you may not have known why.
I do. Today, I had to show myself by 7:30 at the Courthouse downtown (a 45-minute drive in morning traffic) for jury duty.
It was my first time ever reporting for jury duty. I’ve only gotten one other summons, and I was excused because I was nursing infant twins and I threatened to bring them with me. Then I weaned them, moved to Africa, never did get around to registering at the embassy so that I could vote by proxy two months before everyone else and then have it not even counted till after everyone else’s, and forgot about jury duty. Until the summons came.
I read a fair amount of fiction (to put it mildly), including mysteries, and I’ve both read and watched Runaway Jury, so I was kind of excited to be on a jury and get to bring down a big multi-billion-dollar soul-less corporation. On the other hand, we have to be out of the house by August 5th (which includes leaving it clean) and naturally we haven’t started packing yet. I mean, we’ve got DAYS. But I need those days in which to pack, and so this isn’t actually the ideal time to be faced with making life and death decisions for someone else, when I really do need all my energy to persuade Donn that yes, we should fill all our suitcases with books if that’s the only way to get them to Morocco.
Also, I would be a lot more happy about jury duty if it started at a reasonable hour. Surely the criminal underclass are not at their best at 7:30 in the morning either, even if they did get used to it in law school (sorry; I know cheap lawyer jokes are so 80s). Talk about cruel and unusual punishment!
I was actually 10 minutes early. Traffic was quite light. Who knew? Given how it gets by 2 p.m. round here, I assumed that everyone would be on the road by 7. I checked into the jury room and was given my badge, and then I settled down in a comfortable chair with a book. And there I sat, and sat, and sat.
I checked my watch. 8 a.m.! I’d served ½ an hour of my 8 ½ hour day.
Around 9, I was awakened from a doze by an announcement. A list of names was read off, some people trooped off, and I went back to sleep. I read my book. At 9:15, I got up and got a drink of water. I read some more. The day dragged.
I was summoned at one point. I was the 21st name, which meant there was little chance of me actually making it onto the jury, so I made it easy. When the judge asked if any of us had any problem with being there for the next 3 days, I mentioned that I needed to pack. He informed me that that wasn’t a valid reason for being dismissed, but then dismissed me anyways.
Back to the room.
We had a 2 hour lunch break, in which I bought myself a new sweater (the weather was suddenly freezing, and I was dressed for stuffy, overheated public rooms, apparently believing that Strong Poison had come to life and I was on the jury for Harriet Vane‘s trial), and then back to the room. I half-watched a very odd show called “The Deadliest Catch” or something like that, about fishermen in Alaska. Really, you’d think I’d be happy to have a day in which to do nothing but read, but somehow comfortable couches in sunlit rooms seem to play a role in that particular fantasy.
Finally, the day dragged to a close. We were released, free for at least another two years! Suddenly, the hands on my watch sprang to life and time started working normally again. Donn admired my new sweater and we went for coffee, ran into an old friend, got home late.

July 2008

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