Yesterday I had my first experience with the American court system. I was called for jury duty. At five-thirty (also known as the butt-crack of dawn) yesterday morning, I got in my car and drove for about an hour to a federal building a few cities over. I had no idea what to expect, but my husband had prepared me a bit for the experience.
"Take a book," he told me. I did. I took my brand-spanking new Poe biography (number 15 in the Poe book collection.) It's about as thick as a family Bible, so I figured it would last me for a while. Funny, how authors can stretch 40 years over 700+ pages.
"You should probably take a sweater," advised my husband. I wasn't so sure about that one. After all, this is August in the south where the average low is about 96 degrees. I ended up taking my little white zip-up sweater, and I was glad I did. Apparently, the Federal Court system is run by polar bears who must maintain arctic temperatures at all times. Don't listen to Noah Wyle. The polar bears aren't dying out; they're just becoming judges. Of course, the thermostat may have been lowered in order to keep the reptilian lawyers from becoming too warm and lethargic.
"They may not even choose you," my husband told me. Again, he was correct. After sitting for about two-and-a-half hours, answering a boat-load of personal questions, and reading about three chapters of my book, I was excused. Yippee.
I was really pretty happy about not being chosen, though the whole process bore a painful resemblance to team picking in fifth grade PE. Still, I didn't have to get up before the chickens this morning and endure a long day on an extremely uncomfortable wooden chair listening to an extremely boring civil suit. And I still get paid for yesterday, 55 cents for every round-trip mile, and an attendance fee on top of that.
When I get my check, maybe I'll buy book number 16.