My Civic Duty

Last month I received summons for Standby Jury Duty.  Standby?  How can I be standby?  Is it like flying where it’s a crap-shoot of whether you get on the flight or not? 

Keith tells me to actually read the summons.  I hate it when he is logical. 

Further reading reveals that I have to call a number after 4:30 the night before my jury date to find out if I am needed to serve. 


4:00.  Start cleaning up my desk at work.  I may or may not be here tomorrow.  But I think I have pretty good luck, I probably won’t be chosen.

4:30.  What do I do?  Do I call right at 4:30?  If I’m the first person to call, will that give me a higher chance of having to go?  I should wait.  I’m going to be the last person to call.  By then, then should have filled all the spaces they needed and I won’t have to go. 

4:45.  The suspense is killing me.  I’m just going to call. 

4:50.  Pre-recorded message informing me that people with the last names X-X need to report at 8:30 the next morning.  Crap.  That’s me.  Why did I change my name when I got married?  If I had kept my old one, I would be free tomorrow! 

5:00.  Oh well, better luck next time.  


6:30.  Wake up.  Jury Duty at least should have given me an excuse to sleep … would 7:00 be too much to ask for?

7:00.  Panic!  What does one wear to Jury Duty?  Can I wear jeans?  Do I need to put on a suit?

7:05.  Google tells me I should go with the suit. 

7:10.  I put on jeans.  Take that, Google.

7:30.  Get in the car for the 12 mile, 22 minute trip.  It’s rush hour so I give myself an hour.  It can’t take more than 3 times what Google says…

7:35.  Hit traffic.  

7:45.  Highest speed is 10 MPH.  Still faster than my best speed on the treadmill …

8:15.  5 more miles.  And I’ve gone 5 miles in 30 minutes.  What if I’m late?  Does the judge call me to the bench and issue a contempt of court for lateness?  Do I get sent to jail?

8:30.  Pull into the parking lot.  There are a lot of sketchy people just hanging out in the parking lot.  I didn’t know that parking lots were such interesting places that you would want to loiter in one.

8:35.  Get in line to go through security.  I’m 30 people back.  Just as I finish putting my purse on the x-ray, the security guard announces that I need to keep my jury summons in my hand.  Crap.  It’s in my bag.  “It’s ok,” says the security guard, “You look like a juror.”  Wait, what?  Just because I’m the only young, white girl in this line you automatically think I’m a juror?

8:40.  Check in at the jury room.  I’m one of three people.  Well, at least no one commented that I was late. 

9:15.  Potential juror number 22 walks in the room.  45 minutes late.  No one says anything.  At least now I know that lateness isn’t a problem.

9:30.  Watch a movie about jury duty.  And what to expect for the day.  Maybe this will be interesting.  We will be cycled in and out of different courtrooms as lawyers attempt to choose 12 jurors.  If you don’t get chosen in one room, then you will be called to the next.  And if you aren’t chosen at the end of the day, you get to go home.  OK.  Let’s get this party started. 

9:35.  Pull out a book.

10:35.  My back-end is starting to hurt from all of this sitting.  I’ll try standing.

11:00.  Standing is making my feet hurt.  I think I will sit back down.

11:05.  The guy in the front of the room is asleep with his mouth open and has a bit of drool hanging off the side.

11:07.  Great, now he is snoring.  The drool was at least easier on the ears. 

11:30.  I’m hungry.  (Glance back at vending machine that looks like it hasn’t been touched since the 70s …)  Not that hungry. 

11:45.  Ugh! 

12:00.  I think you are getting the picture …

And just when I thought I couldn’t take it any more, the jury room clerk, calls us all to the front of the room, thanks us for doing our civic duty, and hands us a check for $17.20. 

And that’s it.  That was the entire day.

Now I think I understand why the government is always short on funds. They paid $378.40 for 22 people to sit in a basement room and read a book. 

At least the day wasn’t a complete waste.  I got to have lunch with my sister who works in the suburbs.

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One Response to My Civic Duty

  1. Matthew Chiglinsky says:

    Jury “duty” may be some sort of civic duty, but the greater duty is to stand up for individual freedom. The government should not be able to force its citizens into service. Jury duty is basically a temporary job that pays ridiculously-low, slave wages.

    Everyone should refuse involuntary jury duty. If the government needs jurors, let them hire people voluntarily full-time or part-time, like a normal job, and pay a decent wage (at least minimum wage) as well.

    I don’t care what the “law” says about jury “duty”. The law is wrong.

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