I just had a week away from it all. Call it a mini-vacation courtesy of the U.S. government right in the heart of beautiful downtown San Diego. You might know it better as jury duty.
For the third time in about eight years, I was summoned by “She who must be obeyed” — Lady Justice. Actually, it was her henchmen who dragged me down there. She didn’t show up until later, but to my great satisfaction, she was on hand.
Yes, it’s our duty and yes, it is important, and yes, they are so darned grateful. It never starts well, though. For federal court, you are on call for a month, which is an eternity in the average overbooked life. You call every Sunday night after 6 p.m. to find out if you have to leap out of bed the next day, try to cancel all your appointments, cover all your obligations and basically turn your life on its ear before 8 a.m.
I remain unconvinced that some small troll spends his Saturdays and Sundays hermetically sealed in a basement of the courthouse lining up trials that can’t be divulged until Sunday night after 6 p.m. If they could even let you know Friday night, you could make some calls. All I ask is that you think about it, whoever it is that makes those decisions.
Even when you are leaving for vacation, you need a boatload of extra fuss, work and general rearranging to be away from work and home. The prospect of jury duty lacks the same inspiration.
The next gauntlet is to survive jury selection without stabbing yourself in the eye with a pencil from sheer frustration and boredom. My admiration for attorneys and judges went through the roof. The required repetition would drive me bat-spit crazy. The necessary attention to detail and minutiae is mind-numbing and yet they come back and do it again and again.
When you come out the other side, though, your life will seem so extraordinarily normal. You will feel so grateful and maybe even noble that you didn’t get caught up in some kind of big-time screw-up nor tried to forge, sneak, steal or damage.
And before you are through, you will feel proud that you did your very best to fairly examine, weigh and intellectually consider days of droning, tedious questions and answers and exhibits and explanations, that will change someone’s life.
It’s a miserable system that really works. God bless America.
Filed Under: Small Talk