Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jury Duty

When I surrendered all of my morning duties to the husband, I didn’t delude myself with high expectations of what would happen when I was not home. During our temporary role reversal, I assumed that the dishes and laundry and floor cleaning would not cross the husband’s radar. I was hoping however, that the husband would ensure that the teenager and the boy, clean or not, nutritious breakfast eaten or not, homework finished or not, would somehow get to school on time and in one piece.

When I left my family for jury duty that morning I was armed with snacks and books and whole ton of patience. I had been told there might be some waiting. And despite inexplicably setting off the security alarm at the courthouse door, I managed to check in on time, fill out my forms and start to prematurely judge all of my new juror friends by their appearance and behavior.

A competent seeming judge soon provided an inspirational and instructional speech on my jury duty experience and the pride I should take in the long and slow process of waiting.

The judge asked if there were any questions. The first question came from a young woman and concerned the form we had all filled out. “It says on the form, ‘Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit?’ Well what if you went to a party and afterward there ended up being a big lawsuit over some stuff that happened that night?”

The next question came from a middle aged woman who cleared her throat and then spoke. “Where it says here on the form, ‘Have you ever been convicted of a felony?’…..well…what exactly do you mean by a….FELONY?”

A man raised his hand and asked the judge, “I already know I’m prejudiced but I didn’t see that on the form. Is there any way I can just leave now?”

Between the judge’s infectious enthusiasm for the importance of jury duty and my new doubts about the capabilities and qualifications of some of my fellow jurors, I found myself more than ready to take part in the judicial process. Within the first hour, a woman began to announce the names of 62 people that were to be questioned for a jury in courtroom number 4. I sent the woman telepathic messages with my brain, “Pick me! Pick me! I’d be good! I got an A in American Government in high school!” I don’t think the woman ever got my silent messages. She never called my name. I was convinced there had been some mistake.

Eventually, my jury duty enthusiasm began to wane as I sat and waited with those who were in the same jury limbo boat that I was. We read our books, ate our snacks and pounded on laptops. We spoke in Korean, very loudly, on our cell phone for 2 hours straight. We complained about President Obama and Sarah Palin and those troublesome Australian tax rates. We bought shoes for $39.95 from our cell phone, confessed our marital troubles to strangers and announced to the room that the pitcher for the local baseball team was a big wussy. But mostly we shifted in our seats and stared at the walls. I never was called to be a juror. After hours and hours of waiting I was sent home. I had earned $20 in jury pay, read two great books and was now able to speak some rudimentary Korean.

I drove in the driveway and my thoughts shifted back to my family. I wondered how the morning had gone for the husband and the teenager and the boy. When I walked into the house it was not the expected dirty dishes or the inevitable basket of dirty laundry or the pesky crumbs that were still left on the floor that caused me to pause. It was the sight of the first aid kit, strewn all over the counter, left in a frantic mess that caused my breath to momentarily suspend.

When I left for jury duty that morning I had hoped that the husband would somehow ensure that the teenager and the boy, clean or not, nutritious breakfast eaten or not, homework finished or not, would somehow get to school on time and in one piece. And I could see from the evidence of the dismantled first aid kit before me that the teenager and the boy, although apparently bandaged, were still, thankfully, in one piece.

Check This Out!

One of the books I read while waiting for my jury duty moment to come was Exile by Richard North Patterson. This legal thriller focuses on the defense of a Palestinian woman on trial for organizing the suicide bombing of the Prime Minister of Israel as he visited San Francisco. I found it to be a nice combination of the expected drama and suspense a novel like this is known for as well as a good dose of information about the Middle East and the often confusing Arab-Israeli conflict. This one was a hard one to put down.

For a completely different kind of book, you might try I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago. The author, Hape Kerkeling, is a hugely popular comedian and entertainer in Germany and the rest of Europe. His pilgrimage across the Pyrenees to the Spanish shrine of St. James, is the same spiritual journey that over 100,000 people make every year. I expected a book by a "funny guy" to be intentionally funny. This book wasn't. It was most definitely amusing. But somehow, quietly and slowly, meaning and inspiration also snuck their way into the words he wrote. This book started off slowly for me. And by the time I had finished it I knew it would be a blog recommendation.


calimom said...

It's about time you did another blog!

This was funny! Go husband!

By the way, what did happen that morning?

Anonymous said...

yes... cliffhanger!! i already have those books on hold. thanks for the recommendations!

Anonymous said...

I bet it was the boy and the teenager who had to bandage the husband up. I think the minute you left he ran out to work on his car and somehow cut himself!

smiley2 said...

If I left my husband alone with the kids he'd do the dishes and the laundry but would have no idea where the kids were when I got back.

Anonymous said...

Jury duty is great-especially if you don't get picked. It's forced relaxation.

~amy~ said...

Forced relaxation...I like that. I agree that the boy & teenager had to patch up dad...thx for the entertaining post...where's the Korean translation?